Thursday, May 13, 2010

Our armed balladeer.

Driving down 21st Ave in Nashville, we paused at a red light and looked to our left at the policeman who was keeping watch in the parking lot of the bank.

(The first thing that gets me about this intersection is that they station a guard in a neighborhood with well-trimmed shrubs. Something doesn't add up.)

Last night, something else caught my eye. Was the policeman holding the walkie talkie with two hands, at a funny angle, for a reason?, he was playing it. And it wasn't a two-way radio. 

It was a harmonica.

We rolled down the windows and smiled big and snapped and cheered him on, just enough so he knew we were both sober and enjoying the outdoor concert. At the end of that song (there is always a long light at 21st and Blakemore), he motioned for us to wait as he pulled out another harmonica and kicked it up a notch with a key change and a new tune. The light turned green, and he waved us off with his free hand, continuing on to the chorus.

Rock on, Music City.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Mama.

This is Joyce, graduating from high school. Some years after this photo captured her Hollywood profile, she told the man who would soon be her spouse that she would like her first daughter to be named Tala Marie. 

He told her that with a name like that, she better find somebody nice to marry.

Joyce is very patient.

She also has good taste in husbands.

Joyce gave birth to two daughters, 
Tala Marie and Hannah Sejnoha.

I came first, and helped her get used to the idea of being a mother. 
She was very good at it. 
Mom gave birth to Hannah on April 1, 1986. 
Hannah got very sick, and the two of them realized just how strong and beautiful and brave they could be.

Eighteen years after, Mom had to be strong for Hannah again.

Hannah died in 2004, and Mom had to say goodbye to her daughter, the brown-eyed girl that she had carried under her heart for nine months. 
Mom told me that she understood how people could be so sad as to curl up into the fetal position and never want to move again - when a life that you helped to create is somehow no longer within your embrace, frozen is the only thing you feel.

I would sometimes sit beneath a reproduction of this statue at the church near my dorm and compare my Mom's face to Mary's, loss to loss. 

I don't know how, I really don't, but my Mama never stopped loving. Even when she was frozen.

So, so, so many times, I thought, "She has all the reason in the world to quit."
And she did have all the reasons in the world...but she had more. Reasons beyond this world kept her open and alive and real and loving.
I saw that she seemed to have other reasons when I was blazing, mad as hell, hiding on the floor of the pantry, pretending to be organizing the dozens of covered dishes that neighbors brought, thinking that if I were Hannah's mom, I would just give up.

Thankfully, Joyce is Hannah's mom. I am Hannah's sister.

My mom loves lots of people with her mother's heart. All of those people that she knows, that Dad loves, my friends, their babies...they are all tucked in, securely and specially loved by Mama Burnison.

 If we had been twenty-something at the same time, I think we would have been friends. 
Even better, I get to be her daughter. 

If I see her-ness in my future, does she see me-ness in her past?

I can't wait to be more like her.

Thanks, Mom. I love you.

Friday, May 7, 2010

At least we have our health.

At least the living room becomes a dance floor when you move the furniture up the stairs and away from rising waters.

At least my auto body repairs are not human body repairs.

At least my parents love me. So much that we all pick up a phone and share the news that Anderson Cooper doesn't catch. So much that they e-lecture me. So much that it's life-giving.

At least Tina can mimic a voice and coin a phrase to lighten any situation.

At least we have two bikes.

At least "April showers bring May flowers. And I love you."

At least Trader Joe's is only a mile away.

At least my chaplain is in.cred.i.ble.

At least my students have such beautiful souls. Faces, too. Souls, foremost.

At least I swam the lake yesterday.

At least my town has a Frothy Monkey.

We say we're at the least of things, when really, what's left is the very most...

At least we have each other.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It's raining men.

Truthfully, it's just raining rain. Buckets and buckets and car-sized buckets of rain.

I woke up before my alarm this morning - which NEVER happens - to a chorus of end-of-the-world-ish honks from outside my window. I thought, "At least the rain is cozy..." and peeked out onto the TENNESSEE RIVER that was flowing below me.

This was new. There was NO river when I had fallen asleep last night. There were sidewalks and patios and a parking lot and some grass.  Now, there was only swirling brown water.  It lapped at the cars, climbing inside, and causing them all to freak out and make the honky noise. It came right up to my front door. It invited the neighbor boys outside to play in their pajamas and their cowboy boots.  Their worried mom talked to another couple about moving to higher ground...there would be a community refuge at the pool house.

I met lots of nice neighbors this morning. A.J. (or R.J.?) in apartment #1 who let us know that the city was going to shut the power off for our safety. Erin, who had to abandon her car and wade through waist-high water in the streets to get back to our building after dropping her husband off at the airport. We were all really wet and mildly worried. We knew of others who had it worse.

It's still...WAIT! Oh no...false alarm. I thought for a second that the rain had stopped, but it just quieted a bit. Out of shame. I hope it feels sheepish. My car insurance guy totally agrees.