Pink Walls and The Partridge Family

Sweat drips off my face, my heart is pounding, and all I can think about is that 4th of July we spent together in New Mexico three years ago — wrapped together in the big red blanket from the trunk of my car watching the fireworks light up Albuquerque. Ha! I can never not start singing, “Point me . . . In the direction of Al-buh-ker-ke-e-e. . . I want to go ho-oh-ah-ome. I need to get ho-oh-ohm.” I love hearing your laugh melt into those beautiful tenor notes joining me by the “I need to get ho-oh-ohm” every single time.

Do you ever wonder about the Partridge Family? I mean really wonder about the impact that family and their bus had on popular culture? I only wonder about it sometimes because I like singing “Al-buh-ker-ke-e-e” and also because my sister had a crush on David Cassidy and a poster of him hung in our shared bedroom for at least a year. Last week I saw an image of a young Partridge Family era David Cassidy gracing a wall clock on a shelf in an antique shop. It made me smile.

Did I ever tell you about the time I took a bite out of my sister’s 45? Okay, this is definitely worth repeating. I was probably four or five years old and my sister had boy crushes on lots of teen dreams from the 70s, David Cassidy among them. Anyway, she had a collection of 45s and her own record player, which strikes me as odd only because she was so young. I mean, how old were you when you were noticeably experiencing crushes for the first time? I can’t remember even being aware of boys at the age of 9 but whatever. She definitely had her own records and posters hanging on the wall and I know because we shared a room — geez that bedroom was my everything. Did I tell you the walls were pink, like Pepto Bismal pink, but please whatever you do don’t ever give me Pepto Bismal because it makes me throw up, which I think is kind of the point of it, but honestly it’s so disgusting. Anyway, we had pink walls and pink gingham canopies with matching bedspreads and pillow shams and curtains on the windows. There wasn’t anything in that room that wasn’t touched by pink and I loved every bit of it.

So my sister had her records in a little record box with a push-button latch on the front and mostly I liked to push that button and spring open the latch and then click it shut and do it all over again because I didn’t care much for records. But once I was playing with the lock on the record box and opened the lid just to look at the 45s lined up shining black in a row, covered in their sleeves, black shiny side up for easy access. And it was shining up at me so I picked it up out of the box and turned it over and looked at the picture on the cover of the sleeve and the little record slid out of its envelope and into my little hands. And it was slick and smooth and the grooves of the record going round waaaanted to be touched and I was so excited just to hold it and hug it close to my chest because I was too little to play with records because I might scratch them.

I wasn’t wanting to scratch anything. But the biggest urge to TASTE overcame me and I lifted that 45 up like a sandwich to my mouth and closed my lips on either side of the record and took a bite. Into my mouth fell a little semi-circle the exact shape of my teeth’s circumference, and I promptly spit it into my hand and brushed it into the waste bin, smearing my own spit as I wiped my hands clean of any evidence of guilt. I placed the 45 back in its sleeve, and the sleeve back in the box, and pushed closed the box latch, and put the box back on her side of the room, and skipped out of our shared pink room, closing the door behind me, remembering only one thing: vinyl records do not taste as good as they look and if I could choose a poster for my pink wall it would have been of the Partridge Family Schoolbus. 

Magic Mirror

I often felt like my life was hiding in plain sight, lost and unknown to myself but not even missing to anyone and everyone around me. You want a deflated life experience, try that. The thing is, I kept longing to follow a trail of bread crumbs I never dropped — back to a belonging I’d never experienced. How does one “unlost” herself if she doesn’t know to what or to whom she even belongs? Yeah, tricky. 

The only thing I had to go on was what was given to me at birth, on arrival: the framework of dogma and righteousness checklist prescribed for health, relationships, good grades, prosperity, productive habits, community service, peace, eternal life and general wellbeing that when followed all lead to happiness in this life, as well as in the life to come. That’s quite a prescription! 

Rumi says, “The wound is the place where the light enters you,” and so it was with me after I entered the candy-covered cottage of marriage only to discover its surprisingly dangerous occupant meant to consume me whole, to fatten me with the lies he force-fed me, slowly altering my appearance from the inside out so I wouldn’t even recognize myself, blocking my escape from the fairytale I never wanted. 

There is magic in mirrors and I defy anyone who tells me otherwise. My mirror mirror on the wall showed me that day the fairest truth of all:

You are not lost but found right here;
I never left, it’s crystal-clear.
The place you seek is herein found,
your heart is home and love abounds.
Just walk toward me,
come back inside.
My love is true and yours right now.
For I am you and you are me,
and all you ever need to see,
is what is you is love unbound,
there is no out there,
only here,
only always,
forever true.
The key to “found” is always “you.”

Growing Pains

My dad died in the middle of the night Monday morning. 

As a little girl I often woke in the middle of the night my legs hurting so much I would cry out in pain and into my room would come my daddy, with his soothing voice to calm me and take me in his arms to assure me everything was alright, that my legs were simply growing and that sometimes growing hurts. I can still feel the two extremities of those middle of the night moments: the exhaustion of my small body lying rigid and racked with pain, hot wet tears forcing their way through my closed lids, dropping off the short cliff at the corners of my eyes, cascading into cold pools inside my ear cavities coupled with my father calmly and gently massaging the calves of my little legs with rubbing alcohol, all the while reminding me that everything was alright, that sometimes growing bigger can hurt, but the hurt wouldn’t last, and that my legs would be stronger in the morning. 

At the time my daughter started experiencing growing pains of her own, she and I were living with my parents. When she cried out in the night it was my father who would go into her room, rubbing alcohol in-hand, with his familiar and soothing assurances of how okay everything was. Even after she and I moved into our own home, whenever those middle of the night pains showed up, my very little growing girl would phone her grandfather, waking him from his sleep, and he would get dressed, drive to our house with rubbing alcohol in-hand and calmly put her back to sleep with his soothing reminders of how much stronger she would be in the morning.

I will always remember sitting next to and holding my dad’s hand throughout the entirety of the middle of the night Saturday, hot wet tears silently leaking their way down my face, acutely feeling and aware of the two extremities of daddy’s moment: the physical exhaustion of his strong and courageous body racked with pain, tender tears of love in his eyes looking at me with lingering thoughts of what might be left to do, to say, to feel, to see, coupled with calm and gentle assurances from my heart to his that everything was alright, that letting go was okay, that his hurting won’t last, and that our love will be here in the morning, stronger than ever. 


It’s already raining. A lot. No breaks in the drops. Too late to build my boat, I suppose. But if I could rewrite the rain I would.

Would I?

What if I catch the gutter rush as it surges past that point just above my ankles but below my shins. What’s left to do is fold my boat. There is still time!

Christopher and I were ready when we first heard the whip of the thunder crack, moments that seemed like hours before the dark afternoon room filled with the brightness of lightning tinged with the sweet scents of hot pavement steamed to perfection. 

Jumping to action we fold our newsprint as quickly as our ink-heavy fingers allow, laughter baiting each other faster. Is his vessel better or mine? Who has a better technique for the front bow fold versus the stern? The port and starboard sides? Just fold — what you know you know and no judgment or self-recrimination will float you now. 

Hurry! The storm is fast. There’s a perfect window to be timed — it opens while it’s still raining, but not as heavily, and the thunder has stopped, which means no lightning, and the floods are coursing downstream at full speed because they can’t get to the gutter fast enough. 

Hurry! No time for shoes or galoshes! Four bare feet racing, laughter propelling us onward — are we in a swimming pool? My feet tickle with squishy grass, mud and worms on the surface. My face is wet with fresh rain plus what the oak tree dropped on my perma-grin fixed pose. I will win. 

Hurry! Expand your port and starboard folds — create your base — just put it in the water! No time for adjustments. What’s done is done. You are done. It’s up to the gutter gods now. The rush is here! I step into the live stream, debris of leaves, twigs and my own giggles course past my bare legs. Laughter carries the two floaters forward, toppling, collapsing, tumbling into, with and around each other. No one cares. We laugh their way forward.

Both boats are victors, soggy and wasted with pleasure having fulfilled the measure of their creation, retrieved for disposal after giving their everything  — and so the parade commences, barefoot, high march steps, wet grassy path, we’re “Singin’ in the rain! Just singin’ in the rain! What a glorious feeling, I’m happy again!” 

Until the next storm. . . .