I know what a wildfire looks like. I know how it smells, what color it lends to the sky. I know the burning sensation in the lungs when the air is so saturated with particles to render breathing impossible. I know what it tastes like. I am familiar with the agonizing decision, edging bets, on when to evacuate.
Category: Life & Love
Hot flashes are the least of menopause. You will want to drive a knife through your heart; you will want to leave your lover, no matter how much you have loved them. You will feel as though your life is over, because it is. You will realize for the first time that your whole life people have looked at you because you are a woman and people look at women – but now, suddenly, you are invisible. But then something magical happens:
Pets don’t come with instruction manuals but owners don’t need one to decode their furry friends’ emotions. As I tiptoe down the stairs at 6 in the morning and I nestle on the sofa between my dogs, I know that Ottie’s tongue showering my face is a sign of affection and Portia’s head in my lap signifies comfort and trust.
I am known to have a potty mouth that I am not particularly proud of and, sometimes, in social settings, I can utter the most inappropriate pronouncements – although, with age, I have tamed somewhat the relationship between my brain and my mouth. But, in a strange dichotomy, I can be a stickler for etiquette.
For the last 15 years, on and off, I have stuck to a habit that gives me immense pleasure. In a pedagogic effort not to be pedantic and, at the same time, introduce poetry in the lives of my step-children, I took to tacking a poem to the fridge every week or so. This habit went to join the long list of “weird things our step-mother does” but, children long gone, it makes me happy to this day.
It’s been a bizarre week. On Wednesday, I sat in a hushed room listening to an 82-year-old Holocaust survivor talk about her experience for 90 minutes straight: her move into the Lvov ghetto when she was five; hiding in a basement for two weeks; her father securing fake Aryan papers for her and her mother; the flight to the countryside, then to Sweden once the Soviets invaded; her eventual passage to the United States and all the harrowing details in between.
I am not a great writer. Not a particularly good one either but I do have a firm belief – even utter reverence – for words. Whenever I come across a beautiful sentence, a string of words arranged in an unusual or striking manner, I can bask in it at length, reading and re-reading it, going back to it, letting it swirl in my head. Sometimes I can be more attached to individual sentences than to a whole body of work.