Tag Archives: Communication

Courage at Twilight: Tzatziki

We both arrived home at 5:00 p.m., me from work, ready to cook dinner, and Dad from the podiatrist, holding his and Mom’s Burger King “lunch.” I decided to cook dinner anyway, because I had planned it, and I wanted to eat something wonderful, and I had all the fresh ingredients, and the chicken breast was thawed.  Listening to the news blaring for two hours while I cook had many times left me frustrated and depleted and sensorily overstimulated.  But I finally discovered I can listen to music while I cook, with my new headphones, old fashioned and corded, for watching movies on the airplane seat back screen.  Suddenly lost in Adam Young’s masterful short scores, like Apollo 11 and Project Excelsior and Mount Rushmore.  Instead of squinting absurdly as if to shut out the shouting commentators, I began to smile and bop and groove as I mixed my tzatziki sauce.  Chicken gyros were on the menu.  Before I started cooking, Mom asked me to tell her one thing about my day at work, and I evaded, mentioning lunch with a friend, like saying “Recess” in answer to “What’s your favorite class?”  I don’t know if I do not want to talk about work, or if I am simply uncomfortable talking.  I am not a talker.  Dad, now, he is a talker.  In my conversations with Dad, he does the talking.  I contribute an occasional “um hum” or “that’s interesting” or “I didn’t know that” as he expounds Christian doctrine, analyzes personalities, described his perpetual 87-year-old aches and pains (“it’s getting worse, Rog”), and worries about family members and finances.  He passes the time and fills the voids with continuous intelligent talk.  He dredges up the old stories: about a policeman we knew, JM, who was caught running two brothels in New Jersey and got caught and rejected an invitation to retire and was convicted and imprisoned instead; about the diminutive old German, Buntz, who died, and Dad stepped up to be executor of the estate, and the man’s coin collection (I remember it) lay stacked in short pillars on the ping-pong table in the basement, and fetched $20,000 for Buntz’s family; about the union tradesmen in 1971 who picketed the construction of our East Brunswick church building, being built by the labor of church members—Dad was the volunteer contractor—until they grew ashamed of themselves for picketing a church being built by its members, and they pitched in and wished us well with smiles; about how Jesus is good and true and trustworthy, doing more for us in every moment that we can possibly perceive or understand, though we will see it all one day.  I play the role of hushed filial audience, always impressed, frequently annoyed, often sighing burdened and dismayed.  I say little and am uncomfortable with the stage performance that is conversation, never heedless of how my hearers react.  But when my distress is sufficiently severe, and I have gathered my courage for weeks or months, I venture to tell Mom and Dad my troubles, and I am articulate and smart despite the awful hurt, and they listen carefully and interject carefully and do not grow weary.  And then we fall back into our conversational roles, and later while Dad watches the news with Mom, I listen to Adam Young and dance and cook chicken gyros with tzatziki sauce.

(Pictured above: chicken gyros in tzatziki sauce, with pita bend awkwardly buttressed.)

Courage at Twilight: First Big Blunder

John Wayne stayed in Tooele, and Hannah went with her mom. But Brian and Avery came and to help me unload the truck.  Lila (almost 2) ran around talking and playing and exploring and shyly approaching Mom and Dad, her great-grandparents.  I had communicated, I was sure, with Mom and Dad about where I thought it best to store my belongings: in the main basement room against the east wall.  In fact, I had not discussed it with them.  I had only imagined discussing it, and had fabricated, apparently, a memory both of the conversation and of their assent.  But this was not the storage location they preferred: putting my stuff there would turn their family gathering place into a storage room.  I was stunned, not at their preference—it is their house and their space, and my obligation and opportunity to respect them.  Rather, I was stunned at my having transformed the fantasy of my unuttered thoughts into the reality of a memory of a conversation that never took place.  Dad pointed me to a small unfinished area of the basement I was confident would not fit my belongings.  But I did some quick organizing, laid down my 2x4s, and got ready to bring in the boxes.  I applied a wide strip of amazingly adhesive plastic down the stairs to the basement and up the stairs and down the hall to my room.  I did not want the boot traffic and black dolly wheels to ruin the light-colored shag.  Clanking down the stairs with boxes of books on the dolly was a chore straining our arms and legs and back.  Brian and I were sore the next day!  On the moving-in side, Brian and Avery were my heroes.  By night’s end, I was, simply, exhausted, took two Aleve, and fell like a boulder into bed.  But not without remembering sheepishly my first new-home blunder, committed before even moving in.  I will need to be extra careful to clearly communicate so as to navigate my space while not infringing on theirs.  Fortunately, Mom and Dad are generous, flexible, and forgiving.

I Waited for You

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Some of us wait silently to be loved, wait expectantly for our needs to be met.  Others of us demand to be loved with stomping feet and a sharp tongue.  The fortunate among us have learned to express their needs in ways that the listener understands, respects, and responds.  We are all different in how we approach life and love, yet we all want and deserve love.  My hope is that, rather than waiting for love or demanding love, we will learn to seek love in healthy, positive ways.  Beyond this, my prayer is that we will first offer love and kindness to others, thus inviting love and kindness to come back to us.

This poem personalizes one seemingly ill-fated approach to finding love.  What do you think the poem’s speaker could have done differently?  Should the speaker have done anything differently?  Was the speaker’s approach unreasonable?  Consider posting your answer in the comment section below.

I WAITED FOR YOU

I waited for you:
Waited for you to come to me.
But you did not.
I waited for you
Like the crimson clouds after the tired sun drops behind the mountains.
When you came to me at last,
I had faded and gone.

I waited for you:
Waited for you to touch me.
But you did not.
I waited for you
Like a dry, dusty leaf under a charcoal sky when the soothing rain won’t fall.
When you reached for me at last,
I had withered and gone.

I waited for you:
Waited for you to smile at me.
But you did not.
I waited for you
Like a famished infant yearning to suck from her mother’s ripe, fragrant breast.
When you smiled at me at last,
I had drifted and gone.