Huge Hand Ken
Being manipulated by a man never felt so good.
A little more than a year ago now I threw a 70th birthday party for my dad. For the first time, I'd created a huge power point presentation - more like a movie than a slideshow. As a result of the work I'd done on the computer for days straight prior to the occasion, I was kinda messed up. And stressed up, too, as I was the lady in charge of the event.
On the way to the birthday party, we were passing through a lovely resort town and decided to spend the night there. Noticing my pain and wanting to ease his own by soothing mine, my husband said, "Let me call around and try to book a massage for you."
When we arrived at the massage place, it was pretty much what I'd expected. From behind the counter we were pleasantly greeted by the woman who I immediately assumed would be delivering my massage treatment. She wore natural fibres and Birkenstocks, and smelled faintly of patchouli and recently burned incense. I liked this earth mother type and couldn't wait for her to lay her healing hands on me.
I filled out the requisite paperwork and she slid some slippers and a rather institutional-looking blue robe across the counter to me. She pointed me in the direction of the change room and the massage area, offhandedly telling my retreating back, "Ken will meet you there."
Ken?! Is this what the Earth Mother sometimes called herself? Like I often refer to myself in the third person as Ms. K? I seriously doubted it. Ken isn't even one of those names like Lou or Tracey or Lee that could belong to a man or a woman. Ken is just Ken. Understood in every case to be a man's name.
The Wool Sweater
"If you love a sweater, set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was."
~ Lori Knutson
I have an old wool sweater, soft and warm, that means a lot to me. It came to me through a good friend who has an incredible knack for finding me the best clothes. Because of choices I made in the past, decisions made in haste, I nearly lost that sweater.
In order to simplify my move from Grande Prairie to Calgary, I gave away a lot of stuff I considered unnecessary - including the sweater. It's true that much of it was life's clutter, too many possessions and things I wasn't using. At that time, it made sense to pare down my life and lighten my load and, most of the time, I didn't miss those things I'd left behind.
Of course there’s nobody home and so I pull the mail out of the creaky tin box screwed right on to the trailer. Something from the bank, their phone bill and a fat red envelope from someone he doesn’t know. It says on it: You May Already Be A Winner. Yeah, right.
Roger meets me at the door. His tail quivering and yellow eyes fixed on me. He wants food. “Hey, Rog.” I scratch him behind the ears and he leans into it. Soon as I walk into the kitchen I see he’s crapped on the floor again. It’s what they do when they feel stress. When I feel stress, I drink beer. No one’s gotta clean my shit off the linoleum. Not yet, anyway. It’s hard to know what anyone might do. Never say never.
Bet Stan said “never” a time or two and now look what he’s done. Makes you think.
Lorraine’s family. I have to love her. But what a supreme pain in the ass. I wouldn’t tell this to anyone but Roger, but in a way I’m happy Stan did what he did.
Looking back I shoulda seen it coming. At that New Year’s Eve dance she was sure laying it on thick. Drunk and telling everyone how Stan can’t hold down a job, how she’s got to work full time to support him and her kid. He just drank his rye, staring hard into that plastic cup. She used to make me feel small like that when we were kids. She’s got a gift, alright.
“How you age is a matter of choice.”
The advertisement for a cosmetic laser clinic lays on the desk in front of me.
Along with the above statement, there’s a picture of a young-looking woman, her shoulder-length brown hair wet and slicked back. Across her shoulders lie spaghetti-style straps and the skin on her throat and upper chest is smooth. She may be 30 but I think we’re supposed to believe she’s 50 and just looks 30. Who can know?
She’s beautiful, that’s for sure, but from simply viewing the ad, we can’t know if this is because of her “choices”, because of her above-average genetic code, or because she’s 30 and not yet another wrinkled by time.
Sometimes I wish it were true, that how I age is a matter of choice. And, to some (limited) extent, it is. I exercise regularly, drink blended soy and fruit shakes, stay out of the sun, take vitamin and mineral supplements. These things undeniably slow the aging process, keep me a fit 35. I slather my skin with moisturizer containing an SPF of at least 15, walk almost everyday, and I’m careful to eat a balanced diet.
Still, there’s nothing I can do about the passage of time. Those little boxes on my calendar remind me of the swiftness of its passing. Even if I run my calendar, free from Kraft Canada, through a paper shredder, that next numbered rectangle will arrive in the form of a new day. Then another. No choice there.
For Christmas 2012, my auntie Jeannette gave me an amaryllis to enjoy over the season. Then I read somewhere that, after a cheerful summer spent in the garden, you could bring them inside and force them into dormancy. So I did.
Then, just before last Christmas 2013 I pulled that dried-up amaryllis bulb out of the consistently dark cold room and set it in the sun's rays by a window. 3 weeks later I commented to myself, "Time to throw this thing out - it's never gonna grow let alone bloom again!"
With the backyard compost bin as my intended destination I gripped the pot, ready to dump its contents. Suddenly and just in the nick of time, I spotted the tiniest shoot - a generous term - of green beginning to emerge from the sleepy bulb.
Hey! That amaryllis bulb is just like me! I too spent a cheerful and warm summer in the garden, drenched by the sun and the rain. And then I was forced into nearly complete darkness and cold for weeks. Yes. During those winter months I could've been fairly described as dormant. Anyone to see me might have wondered if I'd ever come to life again.
But as the days grow warmer and the sun woos the earth with longer light, the blood in my northern veins is melting. Like my amaryllis, it turns out that I have some life left in me yet after another long winter. So just bring me out of the dark and cold and prop me up near some natural light. I'll be just fine.
It is not because angels are holier than men or devils that makes them angels, but because they do not expect holiness from one another, but from God only.
~ William Blake
I didn't expect to see her there that sunny, crisp afternoon, laying in the snow and looking pretty. From the blue-shadowed footprints deep in the even, undisturbed snow I could tell that her creator had way bigger feet than mine. Perhaps the angel-maker was a big teenager or a young-at-heart adult. Hard to tell.
Similarly, I cannot see everything about God in this God-formed world, but I can catch bright glimpses and sparks of the divine, of the creator. I can gain some insight, however small, into the spirit of God. For tiny moments, I appreciate God's creation and take it personally, as if the fall leaves or the sparkling snow or a friendly stray cat are intended as gifts for me.
Before I walked by, someone had taken the trouble and opportunity to lay down in the snow and in moving their arms and legs, make this lovely angel. And they'll probably never know - don't know how they could - that I sure did appreciate her beauty. It, too, felt like a gift left there for me.