Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Square Pegs and Other Motivators




I got lost. Lost in my own ambition to be accepted and loved and praised and I allowed myself to be restrained by my need to feel worthy. I lost sight of the rocky edge of my desire and I look back now wondering how to get back to the danger zone and away from too much comfort.

When I started this new blog, way back here, I wanted to use it to break out of the mould of other bloggers. I wanted you to come here and be surprised, rejuvenated, shocked and entertained. I wanted you to become inspired. I got lost. I have a wonderful friend who reminded me why I started...

It is time to catch back up to my dreams. It is time to stretch my wings here once again. It is time you saw some of what I have been working on in my glorious studio and it is time to re-motivate my creative spirit to add to these works. It's time to be found...

***

From: My Grandmother's Pearls, a fictional work
By: S.A. Brown

The screen of her cell phone lit the room eerily in the twilight hours. Tawny had found herself sleeping most of the day amid the pillows and Nana's quilt right there in the bay window. Finally, after her body had stopped the relentless caterwauling and her head was a dull background grumble, she realized she was ravenously hungry. The trek to her bedroom to retrieve her phone was much less painful this time, but the fact that she could conjure up no one to share a quick meal with was not. For the first time in a long time, Tawny Moore was lonely.
She'd been staring at the address entry for her family home. It was shortly after seven o'clock and her mother and father would likely be out at dinner already, if their home wasn't the backdrop for hosting some intimate gathering instead. She could call and talk to Rodney, although she was sure her reception would be cool.
For whatever reason, Tay hesitated. She couldn't take the sound of disappointment right now. She wanted to hear cheer, comfort, understanding... things that until now, she'd scoffed at. Up to now, she had been a dervish of self-sufficiency, a force to be reckoned with. Now she felt rather pathetic. Alone, lonely and rejected by the one thing she had worked so very hard to build into her all or nothing life, Tawny clicked off her phone's backlight and tossed it heavily onto the bed.
"No use being dramatic," She spoke into the growing darkness. She would just put on a pair of jeans with a tee shirt and head to the restaurant down the block from her apartment. She had done that a million times before, no use changing it now. She was oddly looking forward to the interaction this evening. She would order some good old fashioned comfort food, bring it back to the house and get started on her resumé. There was a lot to do to be ready to hit the bricks on Monday, and she'd wasted an entire day with her little pity party.
On second thought, maybe she would eat there. The image of her sitting at a table alone made her smile crookedly. It was something her grandmother would have applauded. She would have told Tay, "It takes solid character to be able to sit with oneself! Not many folks can stand to be alone with their own thoughts." She slid into her favorite pair of jeans and slipped a light camisole over her head. A pair of flip-flops on her feet and she wound her way back to the living room and down the hall to the front door.
Dropped roughly by the doorway, Tay retrieved her wallet from her half turned over purse and stood to check her face in the large mirror. Her eyes showed a bit hollow, but nothing that was terribly alarming and with a quick brush of her fingers her dutch-boy cut bob slipped back into place. "Good enough!" she announced and started out the door.
The air was warm and sticky in Georgia's late April evening and Tay walked a little slower to soak it in. The coolness of standard air-conditioning had always irritated her somewhere beneath the surface. It was drying and harsh and always turned to an infuriating icebox temperature to keep the "suits" happy. Tonight Tawny just relaxed into the warm air, relishing it's contrast to who she was just a scant twenty four hours before. Who she would be again, come Monday morning...
She arrived at the door front to the restaurant and entered. Ceiling fans wound furiously above her head and an old window unit rattled loudly in the back of the house. "'Lo 'der, Missy!" called a grandmotherly looking woman behind the warming hood. Her face was rosy with the heat and her smile was broad. "Be wit cha in a short! I'm all 'der is tonight!"
Tay slid into a stool at the long bar. She glanced around at the small dance floor since converted to dining area. She was alone except for an elderly man at a booth in the corner. The bar she sat at was long devoid of alcohol and bar glasses. There was an old fashioned soda jerk station, a shake machine and a glass top freezer filled with ice cream. Molly's, as the little eatery was known, had a reputation for the best ice-cream in the neighborhood and she planned on ordering a chocolate malted with pralines.
"Wat kin I git cha, Sugar?" Miss Molly herself was wiping her large round hands in a towel and daubing at her rosy forehead with her shirt sleeves as she stood behind the bar. "You look plum ravished!"
Tawny laughed out loud. That was what she said no matter what Tay looked like. "I want a chocolate malted with praline, baked mac 'n cheese, and an order of greens - for here." Molly's eyebrows raised at her last request, but she didn't say a word.
"Comin' right up, Missy!" As she turned to head back to the kitchen she tossed over her shoulder, "Take a sit on da terrace upstairs, shore is beautiful tonight!"
Tay slid off her stool and headed up the creaky shifting stairwell, opened the doors onto the terrace of the old building and took a "sit" as ordered at one of only three cast iron tables. The large wicker chair wrapped around her like a comforting hug. She could smell her food cooking in the kitchen below and she sighed as she closed her eyes. She had no idea she was this hungry and silently hoped Molly would bring something extra when she brought the shake.
It wasn't long before Molly's large frame loomed in the doorway with a glass of water, already showing beads of condensation against the warm evening, and a plate of fried green tomatoes. "Figured ya might like a lil bit before," She smiled warmly, "On da house, a course!"
Tay sighed as she drank deeply of the cool water and motioned with one hand for the large woman to sit with her a moment. They both took a tomato in hand and toasted to the beautiful evening as they looked out over the street below.
"So?" Molly looked straight into Tawny's face with that same expectant expression her mother used to pry information from her. It was a fleeting thought, but Tay wondered if all mothers were imbued with that same ability shortly after giving birth. "Whacha doin'?" Her smile was disarming and suddenly Tay felt a camaraderie she found foreign even to her closest relationships.
"I'm sorry?" she tried halfheartedly to dodge the obvious question this woman who barely knew her was asking. At the tilt of Molly's head, she knew it wouldn't fly. The air left her and she sank back into the confines of the large chair, looking up at Molly who was leaning forward, arms propped on the table. "I lost my job yesterday," she blurted before stuffing another tomato in her mouth, hoping to keep the tears she could feel welling up from falling.
"Mmm-hmm," Molly still watched her expectantly as if she knew there was more to come.
"That's it. Lost my job, don't have a clue why and I'll be fine." She took a drink of water, allowing the cold condensation to run down her wrist and drip on her jeans. She breathed deeply willing the tears to stay put.
"Dats what my Mama called 'stock takin' time'. Time ta make sure you gocha ducks in a row, ya know?" she checked the delicate watch on her large wrist as if making the point further. "I better git down to ya food, but ya need to think 'bout dat. Take stock, Girlie - Make shore ya doin' what da Good Lawd is asking'," and with that the mountainous woman stood and disappeared into the old shop. Tay could hear the stairs groan under her weight and shook her head in disbelief.
"Bizarre," slipped from her mouth in a whisper. She didn't know Molly. Molly didn't know her. It was a relationship built on take out orders and friendly weather chatter. Why on earth would this woman stop her and ask such a prying question? And what's more, why did Tay feel compelled to answer her? Normally their interaction was over in a matter of minutes, a shared smile, a few kind words and Molly always telling her she looked famished. Maybe tonight she looked particularly desperate, maybe it was a mistake to ask the large woman to have a "sit" with her, maybe it was all just a bizarre coincidence. Tay shrugged it off as she peered through the wrought iron railing of the tiny terrace.
Momentarily Molly returned with a tray steaming invitingly with a huge portion of baked Macaroni and cheese, a bowl of steaming greens with bacon slices on top and a shake glass with the metal shake cup more than half full. It was a ton of food and Tay's eyes were bulging in surprise.
"I tole ya ya looked half starved!" The big woman grinned wide as she set the food in front of Tawny. "Eat what ya kin, I'll bring ya some containers ta take da rest." Molly didn't linger. From the sounds of it, the dining room downstairs had started to pick up and she had customers to see to. Tawny could hear her jovial laughter ringing through the night and it brought her a smile, despite her unease at the earlier interaction.
She ate until she was sure she would have to unbutton her jeans if she ate another bite. A bag with the voluminous remains of the meal packed neatly in containers stood mockingly on the seat next to her as if she hand't eaten a thing. The malted had melted in the evening heat and she spooned the pralines from the bottom of the glass, savoring each crispy, sweet, nutty bite. She could hear someone coming up the stairs and wondered if it was time to head out.
Through the terrace door stepped a tall young blonde and an athletic dark man, both laughing and holding hands. It was obvious they were a couple in search of some privacy and their faces belied hints of disappointment when they realized they were not alone. Tay reached for the bag of left overs, very aware that her presence was an intrusion.
"My land!" The woman's southern drawl rang out across the terrace, making Tawny look up suddenly. "Tawny? Tawny Moore, is that you I see?" In just a few steps the lithe blonde was standing in front of her, blocking a quick get away with perfect makeup, perfect hair and matching handbag and shoes. Very 'southern lady,' thought Tay wryly. Her escort stood behind her patiently waiting to be introduced, but obviously uninterested in the reunion.
"Um..." Tay fumbled with the bag as the contents shifted inside. "I'm sorry, do I know you?" She was careful to smile and look inquisitively at the woman's face for any sign of recognizable features. There was a vague familiarity, but her muddled brain was not locking in fast enough. She really should remember this moment the next time she was tempted to drown her sorrows...
"Well, I should think so! We were only best friends all through grade school," she was disappointed but hid it immediately as any well-cultured, well-bred southern belle would. It would be improper to make another person feel uncomfortable and this woman was nothing if she wasn't proper. "Jenny Byrnes, silly!" She immediately swallowed Tay up in a suffocating hug, kissing her on the cheek as if they had just seen each other yesterday and were still the best of friends. "How on earth are you?"
"Uh, great... Just great!" Byrnes? Tawny's mind raced to make the connection. Ah yes, friends in school, although far from 'besties' as her recollection went. But then that was the deep south, wasn't it? Everyone knew everyone and everyone was your 'bestest' friend.
"The last time I saw you we were all at the Hall for Lexa's debut. Must've been at least ten years ago..." She smiled widely again, showing perfect teeth through perfectly applied lipstick. Tay was suddenly very aware that she was in a pair of jeans and a camisole, her unpolished toes naked in her flip flops. Her mother would have been horrified.
"OH, yeah... That's right." Tawny shifted in place desperately trying to recall an appointment she needed to get to.
"Shame on me!" Jenny clasped her perfectly manicured hand to her heart. "I should be shot! This is my fiancé, Henry - Henry, this is Tawny Moore, one of my best friends from way back." Henry stepped slightly forward behind Jenny on the narrow terrace and thrust his hand at Tawny.
"Nice to meet you," his voice was deep and throaty and his accent was definitively southern. He smiled with eyes that barely veiled his irritation at the interruption. "Jen, darling, shouldn't we let Miss Tawny get back to her plans? You are holding her up, dear." Tawny could have kissed him, even if his suggestion was self serving and obvious.
"Of course, Love." Jenny's tone was syrup sweet. She rolled her eyes ever so slightly as she turned back to Tay. "Do ring me up when you get a chance, Tay. I'd love to get lunch with you sometime."
"Sure thing!" Tawny called over her shoulder as she turned to leave the cramped quarters. So relieved to be released from the glaring spotlight of southern perfection, she didn't notice she'd forgotten her wallet on the table until she was at the base of the rickety stairs. "Ugh..." she muttered to herself as she turned to creep back up, hopefully unnoticed. As she topped the stairway, Tay heard the lilting voice of Jenny, carried clearly on the evening air.
"...shame really. Such a nice family, and she can't be bothered. She works all the time, never at a function, like her life depended on it. With money like that, you'd think she would give back some. Not spend all her days working and neglecting her lovely mother. Some folks just don't get it..."
Sheepishly, Tay turned back down the stairs. Molly would clear the table soon enough. She could get her wallet later, she was definitely not going to risk being seen after that! As she burst onto the street below the terrace she hustled down the street toward her apartment, keeping close to the shop fronts so she wouldn't be seen by the couple above.
How dare she! Jenny Byrnes didn't know her now, she barely knew her then... How dare she make a judgement on her life so scathing and hurtful. But was it hurtful because it was untrue, or was it hurtful because it was too true? Molly's bizarre advice came ringing back to her. Take stock... What exactly did that mean? This had been a mistake, this coming out into the night. She should have just gotten her food to go and headed back to her chair and her solitude to work on her resume.
"Bizarre," she muttered once more as she opened the door to her building and stepped inside.