Monday, April 23, 2012

Somebody That I Used to Know

I recently had an interesting experience. I ran into someone that I used to love. I mean I LOVED HIM. We had this connection that I've had with very few people, we were together all the time, and people saw it. We were perfect together. Anyway he started dating someone else and we stopped talking. I lost my best friend. I have seen him a couple of times since then. Once I saw him, but he didn't see me, the other time we ran into each other and said hi and were friendly. Occasionally we'll text a "Happy Birthday" or a "Merry Christmas" but nothing much more beyond that. Anyway it has been about 8 months since we stopped seeing each other. I saw him recently he was without the girl so he sat with me and we talked for a while. He looked different. Rather, I saw him differently. He was no longer the person I loved, he was a person I used to know. We would joke like we used to, we would laugh like we used to, we had all these inside jokes that we would throw out, but it was different. It wasn't like it was before. It was fake, because that was the only way we knew how to be together, but it wasn't real anymore. It was strange to look at him, I felt like I was meeting him for the first time again. A big part of what I loved about him was how we were together. Being "us" together. We weren't "us" anymore so I looked at him not as somebody I loved anymore. It was bittersweet. I still miss my best friend. I miss being "us" but it also felt really good to know that after such a deep heartbreak you can be ok again. I was glad to know that I wouldn't always long for him. That I could be around him and not hurt. It felt good to know that I had moved passed it. I did love him, I will always be a little bit sad about the loss of the friendship. It's so strange to me that someone can go from someone you LOVE so much to simply someone that you used to know.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

When I think of Grandfather...

I wake up to Grandfather, "Ho...oh-oh-oh" I know what that means, breakfast is ready. I look in front of me and out the window looking over the basketball court, past the shed to the giant alfalfa field. What will today hold?
I climb out of the brass bed, get dressed in a hurry and head down the spiral staircase. Going down I see Grandfather slaving away in the kitchen making the typical breakfast. Hot cakes, soft boiled eggs, cracked wheat cereal. Adams peanut butter on the counter, hot syrup, cold cereal (if you're crazy). Table set with our daily vitamins laid out. I've recently graduated to the gross adult green ones. Next to the sink is the old fashioned orange juicer with dozens of oranges cut in half. I walk over and start juicing them, as I look out the kitchen window. There are humming birds at the bird feeder with the weird red water in it.
At this point Grandfather walks out the front door, "HO... OH-OH-OH" summoning the boys sleeping in the granary that it's time to get up.
By the time everyone has sleepily gathered in the kitchen, grandfather says, "Prayer bones." We all kneel down and say a prayer to start the day.
I eat my breakfast as fast as I can, choke down my vitamins so I can go outside and play.
I walk outside, the air is still crisp, not a cloud in the sky, the only thing you can hear is the sound of the wind rushing through the giant cottonwood trees that surround the ranch house. How do I start my day? I decide to go across the red rock volleyball court to the trapeze. I grab it and climb to the 4 stair platform. I climb to the top and climb in the trapeze. There are three bars, I hold on to the top bar and sit on the bottom bar. You have to hold it with hands facing in opposite directions or the bar will turn and you won't be able to hold on. I lean back and swing out and off the platform. Grandfather comes out and says, "Oh, There she goes!!!" tells me to hold on tight so I don't fall off and break my nose. Jennie comes out and we play a game of "whiplash".
We decide to go over to the tire swings. The tire swings lay horizontally being held by three ropes. We take it to yet another platform built in one of the giant cottonwood trees by my grandfather and boy cousins. We hike it up to the third platform. (You have to work your way up to that one, it's high and scary) I hold the tire swing vertically and sit in it. Rump in the hole. I lean back and swing out. I look above me all I can see is leaves as I hold my arms out and the cool air runs through my hair. As I'm swinging back to the tree I remember to hold my legs up so they don't get smashed between the tire swing and the tree, I remember hearing how that happened to grandfather, not knowing if that is actually true.
The tire swing comes to a stop and I hear grandfather getting the truck ready, I know it's time for a wood project. I hate wood projects. I go inside and grab an extra pair of work gloves. The doorway leading downstairs houses grandfathers extra boots, gloves, hats as well as coats. I also grab a coat. You do not want to have short sleeves during a wood project.
I hop on the back of Big Red, the biggest of the three wheelers. Justin drives, Jennie and I grab the green and white striped pillows off the hammock and put them on the rack so we can sit comfortably. We all hop on and Justin drives us to the wood project.
Grandfather has chopped down another giant tree. As we approach you can hear the sound of the chainsaw growing louder. We get there, and people are already at work. Some people splitting wood, some people loading wood into the truck and someone with the chainsaw cutting the giant tree into small pieces. I hop off Big Red, my hands feel numb from holding on to the rattling rack of the three wheeler. I put my gloves on and start loading wood into the back of the truck. As a little girl it's really the only thing I can do to help. I remember the time Grandfather was cutting down a giant tree by the barn. He was up in the tree and he was cutting down a huge branch. The branch itself was the size of a tree. We had it chained to the truck so when it fell we would have control. He sawed through it, and it fell, but it swung first and almost ran right into Grandfather. One of many times he had a close call.
I continue loading wood into the truck. We do a wood project every time we come to the ranch. We load it on the side of the shed, so Grandfather will never run out. There is always a fire going in the wood burning stove, mid winter or in the heat of summer, it doesn't matter. That's why we always need to have plenty of wood.
After a couple of hours the wood project is over and playing continues. By now it's really hot outside. Jennie and I take Big Red to the waterfall. It's not as full as it used to be. We can see the crawdads a the bottom. We dip our toes in and think about how cool it is that our brother Justin got baptized there. After we cool off a bit we decide to go on an adventure. We take Big Red on a journey through the rolling hills that surround the ranch. We sing songs at the top of our lungs as we drive. We risk our lives going through creeks, over big rocks, steep hills. Trying to go further than we ever have. Always passing through gates that it's very important you always close behind you. We get to a point where we are directly beneath some giant electrical lines. We stop the three wheeler and just sit there. The only thing you can hear is the electricity running through the lines. It's amazing how clearly I can see the dry dust beneath us, the shrubbery that surrounds us, sometimes you stumble across bones of cows and other animals. You see lizards and bugs. I can remember the feel of the dust on my legs, the dirt under my fingernails, the way my hair feels after riding the three wheeler all day.
After a while we decide to head back to the ranch house. Somehow we remember every trail we took, every fork we passed and make our way back. Whoever sees the ranch house first wins. I can see the red roof break through the trees.
We make it back and decide we want to go swimming. Luckily grandfather knew this would happen, so he pulled out the giant steel horse troph and has filled it with hose water. We get in our bathing suits and head out, we first clean out all the bugs that have made their way to the water. The water is still cold, but you just get in and dunk yourself, and you get used to it quickly. We make a whirl pool, then try to reverse it. Laughing the whole time. The boys are playing basketball on the court next to the pool. Parents and Grandfather are playing croquet on the grass next to the court. Everyone is happy. No one is thinking about work, or school or what is going on at home. In this moment nothing else is happening but swimming, basketball, and croquet.
After a while I'm cold so I get out and lay on the hot concrete. I immediately see the steam as my wet body hits the hot concrete. I look up and see images in the clouds. My imagination runs wild. The sun is so bright and there is a perfect summer breeze. I fall asleep under the sun to the sound of wind and laughter.
I wake up and get dressed and head over to the swing. I ask grandfather to push me. He has a way to get you higher than anyone else can. The board is rickety on the rough rope, but I get it into position and sit on it so it's solid. I hold on and Grandfather pushes me. When I get high enough he'll grab my feet and pull down and it will send me flying. It's a little scary going that high, but I can't help but laugh and reach for the leaves with my feet. Again he warns me about holding on, so as to not fall off and break my nose. As I swing I can hear my brothers racing around on the three wheelers. I can hear water splashing from the horse troph. I can see the barn in the distance. This is perfection.
I hop off the swing and go to the front of the house where there is a porch swing. I sit and swing. You can't swing too much or you'll bump into the side of the house. Behind me through the window into the house, my parents are playing Rook against my Granny and Grandfather. I faintly hear Granny say, "Someone needs to take you back to school and teach you how to deal." And Grandfather bidding 80 before he even looks at his hand. I look out over the alfalfa field. The sprinklers are running and I am memorized by their pattern, "CH CH CH CH" The sound of the sprinklers drowns out the sound of anything else.
After a while my mom knocks on the window and tells me it's time to come in for dinner. I haven't stepped inside the house since breakfast. I come in and don't want to take my shoes off, so I put the shoe covers on that my grandparents got from the hospital. I wash my very dirty hands and while doing so, hear Grandfather yell out, "HO, oh-oh-oh Prayer Bones!" We all come in and have a blessing on the food. We all sit around the table and talk about our day.
At the end of the meal Grandfather pulls out this Manila envelope full of cut out stories that he's found in magazines, newspapers, books and a number of other places. Which stories is he going to read tonight. He pulls one out, they are all familiar, we have heard them all a hundred times. They are all emotional. Stories of family, triumph, dedication, hope. Grandfather and at least my mom cry every time. Every once in a while some of the rest of us will get choked up too.
After dinner it's dark outside. We all sit around talking while we all take turns showering and getting ready for bed. After a day in the sun and dirt nothing feels better than a hot shower.
I brush my teeth, get into my pajamas and say goodnight. I climb up the spiral staircase, jump into the big brass bed. The light from downstairs streaming through the crack in the door. I fall asleep to the sound of my parents and grandparents again playing Rook. I can hear my dad laugh as Grandfather makes another ridiculous bid. It was the perfect day. Tomorrow another just like it will happen. Every day at the ranch is the perfect day. My grandparents made it that way.
I don't know if Grandfather remembers all this now. I don't know if he can remember the sound of the wind through the leaves. If he can remember his orchard. If he can remember his stories. His memory fades more and more every day. Mine remains strong. I'll remember for you Grandfather. It's due to you that I have these memories. I'll hold on to them for you, we all will, forever.