*On the occasion of his birthday.
*On the occasion of his birthday.
"The jerk sat with his fingers tapping on the meter, waiting for his tip.
“'Lady! Look, I can’t get the cab through. They got that truck blockin’ the street. You gotta get outta here.'
“'Get out here? Are you kidding?'
"This wasn’t good for me, but he was right. There was no way into the side street, past the construction truck and parked cars. I had to lug out from the back seat the old blue suitcase and plaid carry-on that I’d brought for Cousin Ella’s clothes.
"When I got out on the corner, I fumbled in my purse to pull out Dad’s letter. I needed to reread where he said I’d find Cousin Ella. I was on Lenox Avenue, standing under the scaffolding surrounding the buildings on the block. My heart raced when I heard the clunks of falling bricks above my head and I coughed from breathing old dust from busted walls. I skimmed to the end of Dad’s letter—shaky handwriting on lined paper.
"P.S. The pain is starting, but I’m not asking for morphine yet. With my fuzzy mind, I forgot to say where she lives. I can’t even remember the street. The building is number 24, her apartment is 62. You’ll find it in a side street directly across from those tall apartment buildings where Mr. Jackson lived.
"I had to get my bearings. I had looked up Cousin Ella’s address in the white pages, but I wanted to be sure. Facing east, the Harlem River was just beyond that housing complex of tall buildings across the street. Mr. Jackson, Dad’s old Army war buddy, lived there when I was a young girl. Dad used to bring me when he’d go to see him. Sometimes when the men would talk war stores, Dad would mumble about how his older cousin Langston gallivanted around the world while he put on a uniform and fought for his country—and life—in the Black Forest. He also told me the Savoy Ballroom had been right across there on Lenox Avenue and 141st Street, and the Cotton Club had been nearby. I loved his stories of the jazzy dancers in the chorus line. I imagined myself in their short skirts as I tried out their dance steps in my bedroom. Cousin Ella had been one of those dancers before she went to Paris. Why did everything that was gone remind me of Dad?"
Please feel free to imbibe on the glory that is this piece here, as well as the entire series and the wide range of wonderful writers contained therein here. Also, excerpt, always. Because I love you.
"Personally, I found love very early in my life with my beautiful Barbara, and when I found it, I never let go. You know, thinking about her now, and please do allow an old man this one indulgence, I am reminded of those early years in our little apartment in Houston, and how even there in the middle of that godforsaken, pork-rind-reeking, hell-hole of a city, her hair still somehow smelled like sea air, crab rolls, and Docksiders.
"But it wasn’t just that she reminded me of my mother … ba-dump-bump, that she was beautiful, or that she believed I could be something more than the son of Prescott Sheldon Bush. It was that she believed in my ability the make the right decisions, until Desert Storm I suppose, well, and that whole Jennifer Fitzgerald mess, but otherwise, she was right there, always, forthright and supportive
"She loved me, and when you have love, anything is possible, even when you lose your way during the long night and are held captive by extremists, be they religious, political, or economic.
"Can I get a ‘hell, no’ for V-O-O-D-O-O economics anybody? I knew I could."
As the universe inexplicably continues to chug along despite, or is it in spite, of the current state of the world, I'm really honored to support efforts to bring Walking With the Ineffable: A Spiritual Memoir (with Cats) by Stephani Nur Colby out into the wider world. To further quote her recent piece in Past Ten:
"This would be just over a year since my husband’s sudden death – sudden, though he had been ill on and off for nine years – two strokes, a pituitary tumor, and two heart attacks, the second one fatal. Last night I had been swathed in the glories of a vesperal liturgy and matins Christmas eve service at my new Antiochian Orthodox church, its beauties so exquisite as to penetrate my waves of sadness with recurring rays of upspringing light and hope. No grief was so deep as that unexpected Light. My current situation reminded me of a strange little violet that used to grow at our old home – tiny, dark amethyst, and intensely fragrant. This one small plant came up with dogged persistence on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. Together the flower and I would celebrate Mary and her undying yes. Even under a foot of snow this tiny violet would first bloom on that date and that date only. After scrabbling with my fingers under the snow, I would find the dark green heart-shaped leaves cradling the little blossoms, kneel in the snow, and bow low to inhale the impossibly paradisial scent voluptuously upwelling in sumptuous generosity into the frigid air."
And what could be more moving than all of that?
Nothing I can think of.
Please let me know if you have any questions and/or are interested in reviewing Walking With the Ineffable, interviewing the author, writing think pieces or generally engaging in the hype we're looking to generate for this most compelling of books. For much more on all things Walking With the Ineffable please do go here.
Holding Smoke by fab Grit Lit storyteller Steph Post is out in the world.
So, you know what to do.
I am happy to let you know that there is new episode of This Podcast Will Change Your Life and it stars the Jeremy T. Wilson.