"My parents didn't raise no fools - I earned that distinction on my own."
Happy New Year all! The end of the year holidays always bring grand memories for yours truly - Christmas Eve marked the anniversary of the first gig for The Wobbly Toms (we are now 8 - in age and number of band members) - and New Year's Eve holds even more fantastic remembrances; I had my first date with the Lovely Bess on that night, and exactly one year after that beautiful evening - she accepted my marriage proposal. My heart is never so giddy as it is when we exchange a kiss at midnight on the last day of every subsequent year. I always look back fondly at those times - even though that episode of life begins this Dispatch's couplet of confession...
Confession #1 - Fates Flubbed The Proposal
Originally, I'd planned a Christmas Day Engagement. A couple days prior, I got a call from the jeweler from whom I was purchasing the ring - a blue diamond had become available. Bess being a fan that particular gem, and things cerulean in nature - "Fantastic. Get it!" was my response. I'd pop the question on New Year's Eve instead. Thus, I could arrange a nice proposal without the worry of embarrassingly asking in the midst of family, or losing that pricey bauble in a flurry of wrapping paper, gifts, coffee and pastries.
Then, I planned it out (For the record, Bess has never known my original intent - until she reads what you are about to): We'd go to our favorite Sushi restaurant, but on the way to dinner, I would pull over at the local library branch along the way. As it was a festive night, I'd suggest a ride on the carousel which shared the library grounds. In the midst of the ride, I'd step down from my "horse", drop to one knee, pull the ring from my pocket - and Voila!
Pretty cool plan, eh? I certainly thought so. Mother Nature, however, had other plans.
It rained. A lot. Downfrikkinpour. Thus the carousel plan was scrapped. Even if it had still been operational during the storm - we were dressed to the nines (or at least the 8 1/2s) - and I wasn't going to ask Bess to ruin her dress in the name of sheer whimsy. Pressing on, I drove past the Merry-Go-Round and onward to the restaurant. Figuring I could work my proposal into the dinner experience, I'd ask just as we ordered dessert. Perfect!
Alas, anxiety had already set in. As we pulled into the restaurant parking lot, it was still raining - and inside my head, the clouds of nervous excitement created their own weather system. We'd have to dash from the car to the front door. I couldn't risk dropping that precious package on the asphalt and I was too nervous to eat. It would be quite strange to go for a fancy dinner and have Bess be the only one of us able to place an order.
I had to do it right there. Right then.
Before we exited the car, I turned to her:
"Don't you want your Date-iversary present?" I asked (we'd been an official couple for a full year that night, so the question wasn't exactly bewildering).
I pulled a tiny pirate's chest from my pocket. I think Bess instantly knew what was inside. As she opened it to see the sparkling gem, I asked THE question. She said Yes. Then, after a minute or ten of smooching, hugging, and a few barbaric yawps - we sauntered inside.
It was undeniably one of the best meals ever - yet I cannot tell you what I ate that night. My memory recalls only my elation and the exquisite glow of my now fiance's beautiful face.
Marriage in it's very essence is a roller coaster ride, but for all the joyful moments that our togetherness has brought me - Bess is due about a million trips on that carousel.
Confession #2 - I stole a brick.
A few months ago, ambling past a construction site, I walked directly across a corner of the lot to grab a small pink brick. That lone brick was all that remained of the sites previous structure.
Though some may view a pink brick as a subtle tribute to a great conceptual psychedelic rock band - I knew where it had come from and took it to preserve a tiny piece of my neighborhoods history.
That construction site used to house a church. Not a grand evangelical palace, mind you - not even a church with any organized congregation - but a church nonetheless. A church which took it's form in an abandoned and decrepit shell of a building; no glass in the "windows," an open space where a door may have once stood, and an open air roof wherein Heavens detritus could fall right in (perhaps making an easier trip for prayers to find their way upward).
There had once been faux flowers dotting the fence surrounding the lot, the edifice itself painted the pale crimson of technicolor cotton candy. Within it, a smattering of folding chairs serving as the pews, and a ragtag lectern for an altar. A hand painted sign nailed to a nearby tree gave times for the weekly "service" and the invocation "All Are Welcome."
On that lot now is an ugly, half-assed house. A screened-in deck from which one can presumably view the lake a half block away. The Ground floor consisting solely of two garage bays. The house has been occupied for a couple months now, so there's no more traipsing across that lot - even though it still looks as if it's under construction. The grass surrounding the building covered in a mix of dirty sand, and sandy dirt. random piles of unused construction materials spittled about the property of a structure that doesn't fit the style of it's surroundings. Yet another modern beach house dropped into a rustic, historic neighborhood.
Don't get me wrong - whomever now owns that property has the right to do with it as they see fit. If they want the entirety of their holiday decoration to consist of a single strand of lights lazily draped across one quarter of the deck, mingled with the eerie glow of what must be a massive television - then so be it. One has the authority to uglify ones own home if they choose.
I wonder, however, if it occurs to this family that their land was once a place where denizens of the neighborhood could gather, to rejoice in one anothers company, to catch up with old friends, to join together singing and lifting praise to the lord.
I wonder if they realize that they've replaced an unconventional holy site with a typical contemporary eyesore.
I stole a brick which holds the memory of what once was there. Though doing so may violate the 8th commandment, I think the neighborhood will forgive me.
Finishing off with a short spin from the retail jungle:
"What's Incense?" asked the daughter, as she puttered near the front of the store.
Her father ushered her out with the simplest, perfect, answer,
"When you light it on fire, it starts to smell funny."
Then again, don't most things?
The Dispatch From Escalatorville
Z.F. Lively: Proprietor/Literate Recidivist
firstname.lastname@example.org (Now accepting deposits of electronic communication)