Thursday, July 19, 2012


If you walked out the front door of my house, you would find yourself on a street paved with gold dust. Every tree that lines it blooms with pink diamonds.  The bridge down the way spans a river that runs with liquid silver.  The tinkling of tiny bells fill the air.

Oh, the bells. Those damn bells.

I suppose it's a bit of an understatement to call this a house.  It's more than a house.  It's Parliament. It's the courthouse. It's the jailhouse.  It's a castle.  But, I guess it's home.

I'm Abby. From Nebraska.  But this?  This is Fairyland -- and I am its reluctant queen.

Today, I wasn't walking out my front door. I wasn't strolling along the golden lanes. I wasn't picking diamond bouquets, and I wasn't swimming in the crystal cool of the river.  No, today... like every day... I was holding court. Miserable boring court.

A trumpet blew right in my ear and I waved it away. "Do you have to do that right there?"

A fairyman flew out of the reach of my hand, his trumpet dropping to float inches above the floor. "I'm sorry, Your Highness!" Philip bobbed in deference. "I have been working on projection." His countenance took on an air of hurt.

I smiled. Philip was my favorite fairy.  He once told me that, when he was a fairyboy, he could never make more than a peep come out of his trumpet, and his many siblings always teased him terribly over it.  His newfound volume was a subject of great pride.

"I'm sorry, Philip.  Let my annoyance stand as proof of your talent. And how many times do I have to tell you to call me Abby?"

"Yes, Queen Abby!"

I sighed and whispered.  "Abby.  Just Abby.  Now, why are we trumpeting?"

Philip pulled himself up to his full 9 inches and announced the arrival of a new visitor. "Ladies and Gentlemen!  Lord Ronaldo, here to bestow his good wishes upon our fair queen!"  And again with the trumpet.

I rolled my eyes.  If I had to sit through one more pompous miniature fairy lord trying to impress me with his tricks and aerial gymnastics, I was going to scream.

The door opened and a figure entered the room.  This was no miniature fairy lord.

He had six inches on me, easily. Have you heard "tall, dark, and handsome"? He was that.  He had straight black hair The ends brushed against the collar of his jacket as he walked forward. His eyes were the most brilliant green I'd ever seen, framed with gorgeous black eyelashes, and I found myself sitting taller under his gaze. He wore dark blue jeans (where did he get those?? I'd kill for a pair of jeans) that sat lazily on his hips and the chambray shirt accentuated the hard lines of his torso.  I definitely sat taller.

"You're Lord Ronaldo?" I could barely keep the stammer out of my voice.

"He most certainly is NOT." The offended voice came from behind the man of steel, and a fat little fairy came puffing to the front. "I am Lord Ronaldo.  This is naught but my younger brother, Kevin."  He lowered his voice in apologetic confidence. "He's a mutant."

"Indeed." I muttered. "We could use a few more of those around here."

Mutant Kevin winked and the faintest smile quirked at the corners of his mouth as his older brother began his series of probably-impressive tricks.

And THAT is where the story begins.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The picnic table perched above the shore of the lake. Anyone who looked out would be treated to a view of sunshine sparkling on the bluest of water, sailboats dotting the waves, and ducks enjoying an afternoon's swim.  But, I took the other bench. I had another view in mind.

I set down my latte and pulled a slim notebook and my favorite pen from my bag before sitting with my back to the water. Opening the book, I began to write. Or at least I set the pen against the paper. But, like every Saturday, the words wouldn't come.  Not until he came.

I could hear him walking up the path from the parking lot and I pretended to engross myself in my writing.  I glanced up with practiced nonchalance when he passed by my table to return his smile and nod.  Now, the words would come.

He arranged his easel up the hill some 50 paces from where I sat, pointed toward the lake behind me. Reaching into his satchel, he pulled out his pencils and began to sketch.

I'm not sure when he had become my muse, but he had fueled my writing for many weeks.  He was tall with warm brown eyes and a smile that quirked his mouth up at the corners. The colors of Autumn were always what I thought of when I studied his hair, rich and full and always just short of needing a haircut. It was the kind that you wanted to touch just to see if it was really as soft as it looked.  It sounds like I was in love with him, I know.  But it wasn't that. It wasn't romantic, it wasn't sexual.

He just intrigued me. There was something about him.  Maybe it was the way he studied the horizon so carefully before putting his pencil to the paper. Maybe it was how he would impatiently push away this one stray lock of hair that always fell across his eyes. Maybe it was the day I'd been later than usual and had caught him swimming instead of drawing. It had made me wish that I, too, was skilled with an ability to draw.  I don't know what it was, but he had made his way into my story, and I needed him to finish it.

I didn't even know if he could draw well, really.  I'd never seen his creations as we were always faced in opposite directions.  Me, towards him.  Him, toward the lake behind me. Every time I looked up, his eyes would be focused on the view over my shoulder, squinting and thinking.  Sometimes I think he caught me studying him, but I would always quickly yank my eyes up to the heavens, as if I was just searching for the words I wanted before applying them to my page.  I don't know if he knew I was watching him.

But, every Saturday afternoon, we came.  And every Saturday, my story came a little bit closer to completion.

We worked in companionable silence until the sun's light began to fade.  My coffee gone and knowing he would soon be leaving with no light left to work with, I slipped my notebook back into my bag.  Smiling and waving, I made my back to my car. We never spoke.

Until next week, Romeo.


She packed her bag, grabbed her empty coffee, and returned to her car in the parking lot. I let out a breath I didn't realize I'd been holding.  I was always afraid she'd discover my secret.  Maybe she'd walk by in a direction she didn't normally take and then she'd know.

I paged through my most recent sketches before putting my things away.  The one I had drawn of her hair blowing in the wind, the sun streaming behind her. The one where she had been furiously writing her thoughts, as if she couldn't get them down fast enough before they disintegrated into nothing.  The one where she studied the sky, trying to find what she wanted to say.

Most artists came to draw and paint the lake.  But, I came to draw her.

Maybe someday she would know. Maybe someday I would show her.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I'm Glad I... walked away from unhealthy friendships

This is probably the most difficult thing I've done over the past few years. It was the hardest to do. It's still hard to talk and write about. It still makes my heart constrict inside my chest.  And yet, in retrospect, doing it remains something that I think was wise.

Sometimes friendships turn out to be not-healthy.  Maybe they didn't start out that way, and that's how they got to be friendships.  But, you get to a point where you look around and realize that the relationship you're in isn't very good for you. There can be lots of components that make it that way.  Maybe you've just begun to chafe against each other too much.  Maybe you've changed in ways they haven't, and vice versa, and you keep trying to make each other fit into the molds of who you were before. Maybe you're giving more than they are, and it's become a one-way relationship, or maybe it's you that's taking it all. There can be lots of things that contribute...

But, one day, you get to a place where you realize... "This relationship just isn't good for me. It's becoming unhealthy."

But walking away is... fraught with so much.  There's all the time you've already put into it. There's the fact that recognizing the unhealthiness of the relationship doesn't mean you don't CARE about the person anymore, and you don't want to hurt them. There's the "but what if they still need me?" worry (em, this might just be me and my own co-dependence.. more on that in a couple weeks). There's the weighty thought that you are choosing to walk away.  To be a quitter. And quitting on something that once (and maybe still does) mean so much to you.  It's knowing that you're walking away from something you love.  Even if you believe it's best, it's HARD.

If you're there, if you're in the spot right now where you're thinking "I think I should walk from this," I want to encourage you to do it. You are not a bad person for recognizing that where you are is not good. Sometimes it really is best.... for both of you. Sometimes holding onto something that was once great keeps you both from being in relationships that ARE great. Trying to be the person someone else wants you to be keeps you from being the person you're meant to be.

I can't tell you that walking away is easy. It isn't.  It hurts. And months later, it still hurts. Sometimes the guilt is still heavy. Sometimes the bittersweet memories twist inside and bring such sorrow. But even as they do, I know it was right.

Hard.  But right.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I sat on a bench and looked out across the river.  The fog hovered over the water like a blanket just about to descend and the birds poked in and out of it as they dove for their morning's meal. I felt a creak at the other end of the bench and glanced up.

A familiar profile greeted my eyes.  I smiled, and then I remembered I was mad at him and stopped.  We both sat quietly, avoiding each other's glances and staring resolutely at the river, as if not looking at each other would make the gulf between us less oppressive.

He finally spoke. "We messed up, didn't we?" But it wasn't so much a question as a statement.

I looked away.  "Yes."

"I'm sorry. For everything."

"I know." I turned my head to wipe a tear from my eye. We had really messed up something that could have been really nice.  Both of us so proud and stubborn. "Me too."

His words came slowly and I knew they were hard for him to say. "They say we never get a second chance to make a first impression. But I don't know that there is a limitation on second chances on friendships and trying again. Maybe we could try again?"

I was quiet a long time and finally said, "Okay."

I smiled.  I could see him smile out of the corner of my eye, and we sat in now-companiable silence as the birds dove.