Sunday, June 28, 2009

Michael's Gift (Jackson Five Dreams)

We were in love with the Jackson Five.
Their posters and pictures were taped on our bedroom walls.
My oldest sister loved Jackie.
I loved Jermaine.
My little sister loved Michael and one cousin loved Marlon (sorry Tito none of us was your age).
My other two cousins loved the whole group.

We were loyal fans who: everything we could find about them
...zipped the dial on our transistor radios to find their songs
...called each other if they were going to be on TV
...watched their cartoon
...saved money for their albums

During a Christmas break sleepover at our house, we had a great idea.
We would become the girl's version of the Jackson Five.
The first thing we did was name the group "The GMP's".
It stood for the initials of our last names: Gilmore, Martin, Prince.

We practiced their dance moves in our basement.
When we got good, we added formations.
The one thing we could never master was the vocals, but that was all right.
It was the early seventies and we pantomimed like nobody's business.

My oldest sister was in charge of getting us an audition with Motown Records.
Once we became big stars we would move all three families to Los Angeles and live life in the sunshine.
Our compound would be surrounded by a tall brick fence shaped like a peace sign (just enough space inside for three houses).
Of course we'd have gates in the fence so we could visit each other.
And, we'd live that way, making music, until the Jackson Five came to their senses and married us.

Over time, due to "artistic differences", the dynamics of our group changed.
The "G's" went their separate way.
We became the "Four PM's" (So much for the peace sign).

Well, after what seemed like months of practice our big break came.
We had a gig!
It was our Aunt Luzia's birthday.
With the family gathered around, we froze into formation in her dining room.
"Okay ya'll, remember to spread out so we don't bump into each other."
Then, the room was silent until we heard the scratchy sound of the needle on vinyl.
'Stop nah nah nah, you'd better save it!
Stop, stop stop, you'd better save i-it. Whooo!'
And just like that, we were a hit in our families eyes.

The Jackson Five became J5, Michael went solo and life went on.
We graduated, started our careers and priorities shifted.
We fell in love and some of us got married (not to any of the Jacksons).
We are teachers, administrators, musicians, deputies, and wonderful mothers.
And we still have a soft spot in our hearts for the Jackson Five.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We Learn What We Live

I have appreciated the beauty of flowers for as long as I can remember.
My mother planted them at every home we've lived in.
She began with Irises, Lillis, then moved on to Rhododendrons, Peonies, Sedum, Dinner Plate Dahlias, Dusty Millers, Hibiscus and a host of colorful annuals.
Like her, I plant.
As soon as school is out I start.
It takes about three weeks before I'm satisfied.
Blue Hill Salvia, Cone Flower, Black eyed Susan, Shasta Daisy, Gaillardia, Columbine, Catmint.

My absolute favorite is Lavender.
I plant it near the front door.
The fragrance from its beautiful purple flowers wafts into the house through the screen.

Three beds are complete. Four more to go.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A City Left Behind

Who lived here?
Broken windows,
Cracked sidewalks,
Boarded buildings,
Tall grasses swaying their seeded tops above vacant lots.

Who loved here,
Married here,
Raised a family here?

A park remains,
littered and unkempt.
If you listen closely,
can you still hear
Stoned Soul Picnic?
Groovin' On a Sunday Afternoon?
Cowboys to Girls?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Quiet of Morning

A cup of coffee, golden brown, mildly sweet,
sits on the table beside me.
I relax in the morning air and collect my thoughts.
This is the one thing I have in common with my great grandmother.
She, too, was a coffee lover.

So we sit,
me on a small balcony with a view of the Atlantic.
She on the back porch with a view of mountains.

These were probably the most peaceful moments of her day,
at the break of dawn,
as chickens awake,
as biscuit dough rises,
before she cuts thick bacon strips from a slab.

Soon the house would be full of morning aromas,
bacon, biscuits, fried eggs, grits, and coffee.
Aromas that waft through bedrooms on a mission
to wake sleeping ones from pleasant dreams.

But for now, this is the quiet of the morning she loved, same as I.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I'm Grateful For...

"I'm grateful for every day above ground," my mother's words.
As a child I thought them funny.
My father would recount the days of his youth then say, "Seems like only yesterday".
As a teenager, I found those words odd.
How could the twenty years I had yet to see, seem like only yesterday?

As an adult who has seen
joy and sorry,
sickness and health,
birth and death,
fairness and bias,
faithfulness and anxiety,
trust and betrayal,
I find myself grateful for every day above ground and the youthful memories that seem like only yesterday. They make me who I am.