Tag: blog

The Lonely and the UnQuiet Minds

Some of the times that I’m most convinced there is a God, there is no powerful glimpse, no experience of torrential downpour with the echo chamber of thunder to scream to me “Here I am.”  Sometimes, there is that quiet whisper and in nothing you were expecting, but in the trembling fulfillment of a promise that you have awaited for so long.

I see God powerfully and yet underwhelmingly in humans, more specifically, my humans.

Today, my husband finally came through on his promise to make me a CD of his music. HIS music that he wrote, that he mastered, that he brought from the recesses of his brilliant mind into fruition through technology. I had been nagging him to make me one, and he came through with two.

To test out the music, we hopped into my old car whose speakers deliver music more exceptionally than any newfangled add-in could, and we drove through the rural night to experience his compositions.

I’m not ashamed to say that I experienced a transcendence through time, space, and matter to reach God in these moments. Sounds idiotic, probably, but I don’t know any other way to say it.

I was an extremely lonely child, one with nightmares that regularly shook me out of peacefulness, one with visions of dead loved ones and panicked premonitions of my own death to take the joy out of childhood. I was strange and not accepted, and I was dying for God to give me someone.

I remember begging God for a new brain when I was probably 12 or 13 years old. I would scream for relief inside my own head so the images would stop, so I could just live and be at peace.

Little did I know that the turmoil inside my own safe place, the lockbox of my consciousness, was churning into something that would form Taylor. It would form the individual, and the result would be something that I’m proud to be. It’s not fun to live in a brain that experiences everything vividly, sometimes horrifyingly, and it’s extremely lonely to live in such a headspace because it’s difficult to connect with other people when you genuinely believe that there’s no one in this world that could quite get what and who you are.

I am an artist. God knew that when he molded me from stardust and breathed into me to form my writhing, unsatisfied, searching soul. He knew that my journey would be lonely, but he told me in small ways “Your time will come.”

I think God knows what it’s like to be lonely. I don’t think that I would want to worship a God who was so far distanced from creation that he couldn’t understand the most painful parts of the existence he designed. He knows. And he was there with me all the times I begged for that person who would be what I desired in a life-friend.

So, as I drove with my husband down the winding roads, often wooded, at some points shrouded in salmon light from the clouded sunset that draped over us, I touched God and I finally was able to wrap his fulfilled promise around my throat like a wool scarf at the end of a very long, frigid winter day.

I found him.

Listening to Parker’s music was like tapping into the frequency of his soul, and I, at times, felt so overwhelmed with the beauty of it that I wanted to disappear and lay on my back in it. I wanted to wade in the existence of a soul like his that I was sure, in the peaks of my loneliness, didn’t exist.

 

 


The Humanity of Our Elderly

In the carefully-equalized biome of the retirement center I work at, there live a great diversity of people who refuse categorization:

A man with dementia who sometimes recognizes me, smiles, and may say some sort of hello–who sometimes doesn’t recognize anyone and is shuffled to a table by his unspeaking aide.

A woman who has been rude to me more than any other resident combined as she is chatting with a friend at a table. I overhear her say she won’t leave the cafeteria just yet, “I’ve been alone all morning.”

One of my favorite residents with a sense of humor so dry, you could use it as a pumice stone dates another of the favorites who cannot wait to hail me to the table to tell me about their date last night. He laughs as he explains that the date would not end because neither of them could get up from the couch.

Right next door to the laughing couple who joke blushingly about stealing “sugars” at the table, is the circle full of mourners who have just been told that a good friend’s daughter, a long-time friend of them all, has passed away unexpectedly. They cry and talk with heads close together; they hug each other and apologize to me for staying so late past close.

Sometimes I feel utterly filled up by the humanity of the residents. They seem so human, so unrecognizable inside the stereotypes that society wants to smother them with.

They infantilize each other; they joke about being in the way at every turn, at being useless, at being messy or incapable of something or another. They get sick, and I don’t see them for a while. They start off walking to the table, but they graduate soon to a walker or a wheelchair.

Many of them remember my name, though the chances are slim I’ll remember theirs.

I remember, “Jersey accent, coffee with his meal, sits at the table on the far right facing the room.”

I remember, “Two coke zeros to-go, always up to the husband who is never well enough to come down.”

I remember, “A tall glass of ice, red walker, her doctor says she can’t have caffeine.”

I wonder sometimes what I’ll be like in my old age and whether I’ll live joyfully, flirting with my husband at the table with me, getting knocked down by the aches and pains, but laughing through it. Or, perhaps, I’ll be scowling and distrustful of the young help, but I’ll be so lonely, no husband to greet me in my apartment, no children to visit me on Sundays.

I love these people, and they astonish me. What stories I will write, taking a piece here and a piece there, a funny smile, a quirk, a name, and I will make them immortal. I will not let their years pass into oblivion, because they have crossed the path of a writer.

Yes, the residents are mostly Trump-supporters and they occasionally get pretty crotchety when things aren’t cooked the way they’d like and the rolls aren’t their favorite kind and “what do you mean, the coke machine isn’t working?”

But, they are so beautifully human, so unadorned with stereotype. I can categorize them no more.

 


Parents, Love Your Children

Tiny child, hungry for a small voice of assurance, looks into bewildered eyes. These eyes can’t seem to adjust, they blink and blink and try to find themselves in reality. Miracle of life, perfect and in-need, parents feed the child with soft words and hug her close to their chests. These adults, fully-formed in brain and in body do try to conceive of a greater love than this as they smell the rosy cheeks, pinch the chubby folds of kicking legs, peel radioactive diapers from the rashy butt.

But these parents, these humans braced for a life time of unshakable devotion–they forget. As this child grows a brain capable of thought, a mouth capable of speech that stings, a heart full of compulsions that lead her in directions that are firmly at opposite poles of their vision for her, they find no more chubby body to cling to, to smell and kiss, so they grab their dreams and ideals and clutch them fiercely to themselves. They sew protective garments for this new, living doll, stuffed full of expectations and fears. They don’t want to lose, too, these carefully nurtured visions.

But what of the child, once coddled, once adored, once spoken so softly to? She does still feel the phantom arms around her and dream of those words reaching her ears again. A simple, “I love you,” and trembling, tear-soaked hug bulging with hopes for her. This grown-up child still finds those bewildered eyes, but sees in her parent’s arms that eery doll; she feels the incongruity; she desires that they would leave this phantom of her created in their fear and invite her back. Her age has not changed her desire for acceptance, and her age has made her no less deserving of it. Her mind, her heart with lonely, searching calls, they are scared and isolated for fear of the doll, of the clutching, wide-eyed parents, and of herself.

There is no age at which a child feels ready to disappoint their parents. There is no age at which she needs those soft words less than before. But she does grow used to that odd, incongruous doll, and at some point, fears that they love it more than her. She won’t ask them to get rid of it, then. She knows it would hurt them to have to let it go.


Silence

Silence is sacred.

She is a ready patience, waiting for the opportunity to be allowed in; She is healing that permeates every clogged, porous cell, stamped dark with the noise of fruitlessness; She is cooling breath on the back of a hot neck, pulsing with angry blood, emotional blood which runs through the brain and into impetuousness. She acts like a cool rag, dampening the heat, healing the visceral wound. She settles over you like calm, blots away impurities like peace. She is sacred. She is ignored.

Though she vies for entry into the collective mind, it buzzes too loudly to sense her outside. It plays its music over the loud speakers in an attempt to numb the perpetual turnings of the sharp cogs, rusted and wretched for revolving too hard and too fast for too long.

She waits, still, outside of bookstores when even the monologue of a well-written page isn’t loud enough to overcome the music. She waits, where grocery carts and milk cartons need distracting from: music is the new silent. She waits, replaced, as desperately churning brains pump music in, trying to focus harder, trying to focus better, while she wishes so fervently that they would know she could do better. She would do better than the noise.

For those that sit, for those that find her in her readiness, they find her inextricable other face. They find that they can listen, that they hear themselves clearer than they ever have, and that they are smarter and more creative than they thought. She reminds them that they are worth listening to, as are the people around them. She reminds them that they don’t need to be afraid of her, for she is not ominous. Silence is accompanied by many noises which make up the panoply of life.

While one shuts off her own voice long enough to listen to the crooning of the world, Silence delights in her tearful acknowledgement of Nature’s music. Silence watches her breathe deeper and steadier, and to the girl, all worldly noises seem louder, seem unnecessary after their brief, but poignant encounter. It is sacred; it is claimed and protected; it is not to be brutalized.

Those that commune with Silence find the world raucous and disrespectful. To find one’s voice so pleasing that it can’t cease is an egregious crime. To find music so necessary to comfort in a quiet room is an expression of fear.

Silence does not blame the wounded for being fearful of the quiet, but she does wish them to give it a try and rediscover their own genius in the stillness.


Dogs Are Not Man’s Best Friend

Howling, aching creature. You wail at my departure, fearful that you’ve done something to deserve being left alone to die.

Once, so far, you’ve been uprooted. Your love lands recklessly where mine is careful, where mine is reluctant to let go. Here, you seized me. Your pointy whisker lips grace all areas of my face, peeking tongue wetting my freckles with individual kisses. You sniff, you must sniff my breath for every I love you. Believe me, dog, every breath is an I love you.

I’m scared to say it to you because I know you won’t believe me soon. I’ll grab your head and kiss the velvet, fiercely, desperately, as your new owner takes you to your home. You might think that I’ve found you flawed, that I’ve declared you an exile from my pack. But please, sniff my breath, sniff it while you can, graze me with those whiskers, let me smooth your fur with my lips and whisper comforts to you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

I find you satisfactory, lanky specimen. Though you goose-egged my shin in full-stride through the yard, I find you perfect.

Though you ate everything I left in your path like a goat with reckless abandon, I find you perfect.

I wonder at the short-lived, powerful attachment. You, ancient animal, and me, arrogant human. You imprinted on me the quack of your character with the first burped grumble. I mourn for you and I hope you don’t forget my breaths, the smell of it, the volume of my declarations.

How strange it is to love an animal. To feel the urge to lead, and yet love, to discipline and shower with every conceivable tickle, pat, and hug.

My charge, my friend, I declare you my guardian. A short while I anguished over your primal mind and worries, a short while I cared for you, and now I grow older, stronger, wiser for loving you.

You are a satellite, infused with the divinity of Creation. More than a friend, more than a companion, I find you, the beacon of God and I am astounded by the grace with which you diffuse His love with each lapping lick, each cheeky nibble.

 


Writing Exercise #1

 

I recently bought a book full of writing exercises. The first exercise encourages a James-Joyce-like internal monologue writing session. I thought I’d show you the bulk of the internal monologue I wrote down, and the monologue of a character I adapted it to. It was fun and enlightening to transform my own strange ravings into the even stranger ravings of a potential character that I’d very much like to explore later.

My internal monologue : Pre-transformation

The crows caw loudly, and I think of raw meat. Footsteps nearby, a clopping horse’s gallop. It is a strange turn taking between the birds and the clopping, the whirring of a pair of wings above and the response of a locking-car horn nearby. The carts, the wheels and rattles, moaning wind, echoing laughter.

I do feel alone here, but delighted by it. I think “what atrocious handwriting you have,” but still, I write my head down. Voices distract me and the heat sits like spring, jet engine blanket on me. I want to lean back and sleep.

Sickness shares the air with beauty. Trollopsing wasp, buoyant and disturbed by passing cars and their boom-boom hello. I still hear its thunder. Whoosh. Whir. I shouldn’t be stopping, but often if I don’t try to, my head stops thinking—goes blank and silent and comfortable.

A muscle is twingeing in my arm. Phone buzz and I see spots on my vision. Bleep. Caws sound jolly—not so argumentative. Red-headed angel trollop, over-the-shoulder bag—hello, parking lot visitors, I can ow hear your music. Turn it down. I take these things like invasions of my privacy, my personal space.

Ha, I can tell you BUZZ BUZZ dropped your phone. the crows are HAW HAW, laughing at you, too, but you don’t hear them. There’s so much noise and sometimes it smells like spring time, but often they disturb me. Do I hear singing? Sounded kind of ghostly.

Adapted character monologue using details from the exercise

The crows caw loudly, and I think of raw meat. Footsteps nearby, a clopping horse’s gallop; there are no horses near, but shoes are hooves when passages like wind tunnels carry noise beyond its half-life. The carts, the wheels and rattles, moaning wind, echoing laughter, they are carried one painted brick too far.

I do feel alone here, but delighted by it. I think “What atrociously un-hemmed pants you have” as I look down at my swinging legs, dangling from the garden wall. Still, I let my head silt its voices out. They distract me as the heat sits like a jet-engine blanket on my shoulders, persuading me to lean back and sleep.

I resist as I hear a tuberculoid cough wrack the dewey air. Sickness shares the air with beauty as before my eyes, a trollopsing wasp, bouyant and disturbed by mournful winds and its schwoop schwoop “hello” makes arcs and dips with its top-like body in the air. Whoosh, whirr, I hear the wind and wasp exchange their matter in a short flight to nowhere, and for a moment, the heat wins out as I stop and think of nothing. Often, if I don’t try to, my head stops thinking—goes blank and silent and comfortable.

A muscle is twingeing in my arm as I lean. I can’t move yet. I must observe. Twinge. The crows still haw haw; they sound more jolly—less argumentative. Maybe I only thought they were arguing when the mist was heavier and it felt like an evening for a murder.

The trailing end of a measure of a song drifts from the tunnel now, and its half-life turns it ghostly. I shiver, but my twingeing arm reminds me that it’s still not time to go.


International Women’s Day

In small ways, at small times, when I was small and insignificant, women who were large, so large they obscured my vision, annihilated the darker parts of me and taught me something new.

From the first woman whose brown eyes were the largest portals to truest love that I could conceive of, gracious receiver of Crayon pictures and macaroni glued to paper, humble cook, hard-working co-bread-winner, independent woman, I learned that I must not throw my pearls at swine and that loneliness is not forever. I learned that compassion is dangerous, but I am good for it. I learned that I can do anything, but that I must try. I learned that I need no one, but my Creator, to conquer the world and to do right. It is you who teach me that I am worthy, and that is the most important lesson of all, for a small girl with sensitive ears, in a loud world with no discretion.

English teachers, my English teachers, receivers of early-dated manuscripts whose stories were wrought by inexperienced hands. You cherished and read them, you smiled, and encouraged. It is you, the Kosechatas, the Swanns, the Eddlemans with your mighty endurance, your kindly tongues, and your incredible brains that brought to budding, no–flaming vividness my passion for writing, for intelligence, for womanhood.

Friends, friends of many ages, abandoned, moved and displaced, torn by hurt, but never forgotten. You have shaped me, and you I thank for gouging out the bigotry in ever small, but earth-shattering waves.

It is the Elizabeths who breathe only patience, kindness, and acceptance for the unloved and unexalted, willing to be hidden so others can be lit up.

It is the Hollands who feed their brains with books and poetry, with politics and social justice, small remarks of Democratic ideals, long tirades of dissatisfaction with the way things are; it is you who teach me not to be satisfied, to speak up, to not give up, to remain vigilant, so all may receive compassion.

It is the Samanthas who cook, who pay, who listen, and show up. It is loyalty without many words, but by actions that scream and resonate in my eardrums. It is you, who teach me that I need not say anything, if I am there, if I am breathing, if I am willing to be human to someone in need, then I have done great things.

It is the Lexis whose attentive listening, surging, beating heart, ripe with desire to love and be loved, ripe with sensitivity to the hurts of others, ripe with forgiveness for those who have never asked for it. It is you who teach me to humble myself, to remember God’s grace in the face of inexplicable betrayal.

It is the Stepmothers: carepackages, assumed role, second mother. It is expenses given in times of need, clean room, stocked refrigerator, exclamatory texts at the most timely opportunities. It is you who teach me that family is chosen. It is you who teach me that love cannot be bought, cannot be tossed aside, cannot be beaten into submission. It is you who teach me steadfast and resilient love in difficult situations, never giving up hope, always offering that foundational love, even when my heart aches.

It is aunts. Many aunts whose indelible marks print continuously on my being. It is an aunt who is also a friend. Sailor Moon posters, four-poster bed with cats the size of me, giggle-writing sessions at the computer, sketch book full of wonders. It is a horse play set, and a generous heart, a laugh that is boisterous and beautiful. It is you, your talent, your patience, and your persistence through abuse, hurt, abandonment, and trial that inspire me to be more. You inspire me to hold on, to push through, to keep trying at myself, at my writing, my art, my human essence. You, a figure, a fascination for the one who I shall also list:

cousin, best friend, oldest accomplice–It is you, strange and creative mastermind who teach me to laugh and never stop laughing.

You, hard-earned laugher, reader, writer, lover of people in need, are my oldest friend, and most forgiving of all wrongs. You, my confidante, butt-kicker, and inside-joke scribe, teach me that life doesn’t have to be grim, and I do not have to forget myself to the chaos. I may look to books, to movies, to friends, to Nature, to myself for the humor to break the despair. My laughing friend.

Women-shapers, women. Teachers, all. I love you for your interest, your fortitude, and who you are.


Mental illness and creative writing

                          **The grumpy bird on the windowsill is me.** 

As someone studying both English and Psychology in college, the idea of the aspects of our disturbed minds influencing our art is very interesting to me.

Last semester, I wrote a long symposium paper on Lord Byron’s Manfred and the reflections of Byron’s mental health problems in the play. To me, it was clear that Byron’s art was influenced by and perhaps was given more meaning in context with his mental health problems, specifically what I believe to be Bipolar 1 Disorder. There was quite a bit of research involved in this theory that I don’t have time to go into here, but I will say that I’m convinced on an intellectual level that both the correlation of mentally ill people having artistic ability is high and the correlation of people with artistic ability being mentally ill is high. Those don’t seem to be different on a surface level, but in fact, there is research that indicates genetic correlations between Bipolar 1 disorder and artistic ability. This is subtly different from people who are artistic being more inclined to feel deeply, to experience mental illness in a way that only artists can.

I hope that those seem distinct to you, reader, and I don’t sound like a driveling moron.

The reason I bring this up today is because I have some input into how this is significant on a layman’s level, how this is significant to me, Taylor McCoy, a writer.

I’m currently working on a novel with a protagonist who has anxiety. This should be fairly easy for me seeing as I experience anxiety almost daily, but still I doubt the legitimacy of the experience and the way that I’m relating it. I didn’t realize until today exactly how deep my abnormal pscyhology influences the way that I write.

For example, I believe that I have undiagnosed sensory processing disorder (SPD). If you don’t know what this is, I don’t blame you. The occurrence of SPD is correlated with people who have generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety and was once (and in some circles, still is) associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Someone with SPD experiences sensations much differently than what most SPD-ers call “Neurotypicals” or, those who don’t experience these intense sensations (or in some cases, lack of sensation).

For me, sitting in a room full of people can be either extremely relaxing, if my brain chooses to filter those sensations properly and it all becomes white-noise, or it can be infuriating, perhaps terrifying. For me, when I was sitting in a room with my boyfriend and several of his friends and there was a TV playing the Simpson’s theme, one roommate singing a different song than the theme, another roommate coughing loudly, my boyfriend talking close to my ear, and another roommate crumpling up a plastic bag in another room, I was suddenly quite certain that I was about to set myself on fire and take down whoever I could with me. I was overwhelmed to say the least. It makes me angry, sad, and felt like the physical sensation of a migraine without an actual headache.

Imagine what someone who experiences things like this with all their senses would notice about the world that a neurotypical would not.

For example, I can call to mind sensations that are vivid for me that I haven’t felt in 15 years. I can feel on the inside of my brain what a rusty mailbox feels like and it makes me want to throw up. I can’t even pick up a newspaper or a paper bag without the fear that I will want to promptly wrench my hands off my wrists and never experience the pain of that sensation again.

So, it seems strange to me to try to write without description. If you ever get the chance to read a novel of mine, you’ll probably notice the high amounts of description, the possibly irritating levels of description. But, how else would I get across what I was meaning to without relaying these things that are so central to my experience in great detail, and at every important opportunity. I feel that I have a distinct skill in relating detail because I experience things so intensely and so differently than normal people do.

It’s fairly uncommon to have a disorder like SPD, but many writers can relate to depression, anxiety, alcoholism and other addictions. When I approach a novel from a writer that I know to suffer from these things, I think it’s hard to wrench the writer from the character because usually the character reflects many of the same struggles, and that’s what makes them different. A writer who suffers from depression, Bipolar disorder, or suicidal thoughts is likely to create a memorable character who can’t contain their own snarkiness. They are dark and brooding. They are sarcastic. And you can’t help but love them, right?

I’m not saying that all dark and brooding characters are the product of a depressed author, but I think that we, as writers, have the unique ability to create memorable characters because of our experience with mental illness. We can write the outcasts who go on the grand adventures we long to have. We can write characters who have deep and meaningful relationships that we are dying for, or perhaps the opposite, the loner character who we intensely relate to and can imbibe with our longing.

I don’t at all think that being a mentally healthy writer is reflective of a poorer quality of work. However, as a writer who has a unique experience every day, having constant internal dialogues about my actions because I’m hyperaware of avoiding anxiety, avoiding certain pathways so I don’t have to fear with every step that I will trip in front of a crowd of strangers, or avoiding certain people because I know they’ll want to hug me and I can’t take that today, I might just retaliate and punch them in the face, I think that embracing these dysfunctions might just be the saving grace of our writing.

It’s undeniable that mental illness and artistry correlate, that the correlation is strong. I think the point I want to make here is that our writing is meaningful because of our struggles. Not to exclude the mentally healthy, again. To us, to those who suffer in similar ways, to a world that doesn’t adequately comprehend mental illness, our experience is important and should, it should come out in our writing.

Thank God we can write. Thank God we can turn to words to express what comes out in jumbled pleas from our mouths without proper rehearsal. Thank God the only way I can make the world understand my mind properly is through the beauty of language.

And thank you for reading.


Experience and the Sponge

Sometimes, when the thick gray air of winter sits on brick towns with painted windows, when old courthouses with cylinder blocks for foundation and the smell of restaurant food and newly paved roads tickles my nose and forces me to imagine worlds into existence, I think:

How wonderful it is to be an artist.

Small things…

-the way the leaves twirl around moving cars in wind shapes like the faery world’s gentle collision with reality

-the way the clouds project the moon from out of the black carpet behind it, concealing, revealing, concealing, so dark they look like midnight dragons on a run through the heavens

-the way caterpillars float, transcendent, I imagine, ecstatic through the air on their silky strings, totally carried by their ingenious invention…and their weightlessness

They make me proud to be an artist. It is these things which fill me up like a thirsty sponge, squeezed dry from the harshness of the atmosphere, from the constricting agenda of hate, smothering, smothering. I eagerly fill myself up on this holy water of this world’s majesty. I drink and drink until I am contentedly wet, ready to purge these beauties out onto other things that are dry.

Yet, sometimes, as I am a sponge, and I absorb, I find that even the filthy water gets in, and I’m already too soaking wet with filthy water to take on anything else.

Yesterday, I printed pictures of a dead woman. Her car was like a flash-frozen, half-melted conglomerate of metal with blood spatter on the ceiling. Children’s toys stretched out over the car, through the air, nestling near the railroad tracks and lying down to rest in the dead, winter grass, broken, wet with mud, dislodged.

I printed pictures of little girls and boys, of big girls and boys, of mothers, of fathers, of friends. Little girl in a blue dress with frills down the front, clippies in her hair as numerous as the twirling braids which stuck off her head like antenna.

I ached. I ached. I ached.

Drunk driver. Too fast. Satin coffin. Orphan family. Orphan friends.

I ached, and I ached.

I found that when I tried to draw breath, my chest was shallow. There was no more room in the cavity which held my non-compliant lungs. I found tears with no logical explanation breaking through my resisting eyes, I felt that the toxic water was so deep in my tissue that I was about to rip myself open to get it all out. I wanted to scream, to scream so loud that it would all come spraying out of me and I would be dry again.

Unfortunately the toxic water didn’t come out. It did, some, purify for a brief moment in the company of friends and laughing and story-telling, but when more toxic water lay itself down on top, urging itself into my widened pores, settling in with the rest, I decided to shut off the tap completely. Nothing will try to fill me up again. Not today and not for now.

So today I am empty. I covered my face with pure bath water so hot it scalded the infection off. I watched videos of things which normally fill me up with healthy water from the world, hoping it could sit on the surface and not move in just yet. I need to be empty for now.

Just let me be empty for now.


Ten feet

10 feet, three bodies, six eyes.

Sniffing noses, up-down, up-down, sniffing noses seek out bits of swept away hay, tiny chompers slowly pull them in. Ears, like satellites, twist and turn to catch the slightest noise, the smallest breathy tremor. Hop, shuffle, run, these tiny feet gain a lot of ground

in a small space

less wonderful than they deserve.

I sometimes let them get close to my face, allergies and all, their slick fur smelling like the stuffed air of the room, yet those silky fibers brush my cheeks with the softest hello, the kindest I love you. I watch them, the two four-footed ones, and I imagine that there cannot be a day when they don’t exist in this world with me. Their hearts, as innocent and as short-lived as the wispy seeds of a dandelion in the spring, touch mine with a permanence I’ll never forget.

The two-footed one…he’s another story. Wrinkle-eyed hazel winks. Walk, pace, sit. His nose sniffs, too, but probably for pizza and beer. He explores the inner worlds of dimensions beyond the screen, his fingers guiding his way through a technological masterpiece. He perks his ears for bits of stories that intrigue him and his heart…oh, his heart. His heart isn’t the dandelion of the others. It’s more of an oak tree. I hope that it lives long, that it only grows taller, that its tender roots envelop me whole and never let me go for as long as the Earth draws breath from the ether. It’s not innocent, he isn’t a child, but the strong beating of it, the persistent search of his heart for truth, it only elongates him until his spindly, unsatisfied brain reaches the heavens.

Ten feet, three hearts, six ears.

He once told me that love is a choice. I didn’t believe him much because no one had ever made that choice in my experience. I told him, love is like that Koolaid stain in the carpet. Sometimes you mistake it for blood when the shadows hit just right, but if you apply enough elbow grease, it’s like it was never there.

I think now, it helps when you’ve got these particular three hearts, but I sometimes need the choice. I pour more koolaid on the carpet, let it seep through to the floorboards beneath, further even, all the way to the foundations of the house until it’s all a part of it. Can’t get it out then, I’ve worked too hard to put it there, strong, and it looks like blood when the light hits it.

I sometimes forget love is a choice when it’s convenient for me. When I’m tired, I can’t imagine getting on my knees and pouring one more time, they ache after all, and I’m tired. I’ve got other things to do than nurture that stain, things that will make me a lot of money in the long run, things that distract me from real-life priorities.

Yeah, I think the two-legged one has a point. Love is a choice, but I’m certainly glad I made the right one.