“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan



the sacred: yesterday it was a bird in the late afternoon heat, on the side of the road, wings flapping, raging, raging against the dying of the light. i passed it in my car and turned around, but in those few seconds, it was gone.  this morning, magnolia blossoms on the street, crushed and scattered.

i think it was the sound of music.  i was a kid and it was the movie to see, but we were poor and it was too expensive, and i guess i felt left out from the seeing.  i don't remember - i just remember my guilt, even though it wasn't on purpose, not really.  (see? even still, i try to excuse my childself.)   i'd found an ad in the paper - the movie was showing at a drive in theater, a dollar per person and look! i said to my father - the sound of music! one dollar! and he said well, a dollar, we can do that - and i remember the light of the room, the newspaper on the floor next to me, and i remember knowing he thought i'd meant a dollar per car, not per person, and i remember my guilt beginning, but i kept silent and selfish - and he piled the whole family, 3 kids, 2 parents, into the car and off we went.  i guess i really wanted to see the movie, but all i remember is pulling up to the ticket booth, and my father's embarrassment when he discovered it was too much money.  the look he and my mother exchanged.  i remember staring away from them, my face against the window, knowing we didn't have the money to spare.  i remember the bright light surrounding the booth, the dark night beyond.

i don't know if we saw the film or not.  i remember my father turning the car around, driving past the ticket booth, making a turn and heading home, but i also remember seeing him shell out money he couldn't afford, money which meant a bill didn't get paid or someone went without a few lunches.  maybe he did turn the car around, maybe he changed his mind and we went back, maybe we cried and whined and he decided 5 bucks was worth less grief.  maybe i have memories mixed together - maybe we went another night.  i don't remember the movie at all.

i wear my father's embarrassment to this day.

i could have asked him - after i was grown, i could've apologized, said i'm sorry, but i never did, and now both my parents are gone, and i have no one to make me feel better.  it brings me to tears every time i think about it.  i am crying while typing these words.  i want absolution from my sin, and it is too late.  i want him to know i knew and i did it anyway, i want him to know that i hated being poor, but i want him to know that i understand he hated it more.  i want him to tell me it's okay.  it wasn't okay, but i want that anyway.  i am still a child in all those feelings, but a child grown up who knows how much it cost him.


i dreamed i should tell you this.  i dreamed i should let it out of its box, this small piece of my childhood.  i dreamed it must be written.

"There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." 
                                                     ~ Ernest Hemingway


maybe this is why we write.  to give our small stories somewhere else to live.  



  1. it's why i write.

    beautiful, wise, magical - as always.

  2. it happens to me also: the need to share that faraway feeling or occurrence. to empty out. to release. to get a fresh perspective on it. then i can go back and look at it with different eyes.

  3. I know that child; I know that father, and I'm also well acquainted with that feeling. I well up reading it, and know that I hold back the bleeding. I learn a lot here; much about you, but even more about me. Thank you.

  4. yes, that is why we write.

    i have a very similar memory to this, about my father, and now you make me think that i should talk to him about it before i cannot. "i wear my father's embarrassment to this day." it is that kind of memory.

    and i imagine that your father is reading this just now, and saying, "it's okay." writing his own version of the story, and wishing that he could say those words to you.

    i also think you write to add more beauty to the world. your words do that, every time.

  5. Yes. *This* is your absolution.
    The beauty of your desire, the sharp edge of his embarrassment, but all these decades later, the veil of mercy floating down.

  6. your tears, my tears. your memory, my memories, they are entwine. of all our childhood memories, i often wonder why one moment of a decade can be remembered so absolute. let this go, sweet child of the father. in telling us, may you find your absolution.
    as Kelly said, you write to add more beauty to the world, and your words do that, every time.
    in fondest, tilda

  7. i have started this comment a couple of times but the eyes blur ... so much to say before they go .. and then they do and we are left . Sending hugs from down the road ...

  8. the sins of childhood
    are cheap___
    the parent's are not.
    if you can now say,
    I had reallly good parents.
    that will dry all the
    tears in heaven.

  9. Yes! To give our small stories somewhere else to live...

    This one doesn't have to live any longer in your heart or in your guilt. It's finished now, right? You can be free of this. Free and as forgiven as you know you father would have made you.

  10. There are similar embarrassments in my childhood also. I think we need to release them and let them go. A new one for me recently cropped up, it creeps into my mind when I least expect it. I need to confirm the story and thank goodness my mother's sister is still alert and I hope can remember. I would be sad it I couldn't clear this from my mind. Take care and I hope you are able in some manner to clear it.


come. sit under the emma tree & let's talk. i have cookies . . .