Pink Flip-flops


Dearest Jan,

“What a difference a day makes….24 little hours….” Remember that song? The room is flooded with thoughts of you. I always used to joke that you were my muse; that you picked a mighty humble ability on which to cast your light. It was light, lots of beautiful luminous thought and colorful gardens of words, in which you led a would-be Dante, safely over the treacherous Styx and through the Elysian Fields.

Somehow you always made my pompous allusions seem funny, malleable, and less ridiculous. Our game of coming up with them came unglued that day when you remembered, “Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.” The layers made us laugh; some of them being so obvious! That took care of that. We went on…..was it Proust, Pascal or Kant? I went into the bathroom to find that dog eared copy of ‘Swan’s Way’ on the back of the John. I’ve been reading it for a decade or more. “Crooked Timber” wasn’t there. You were right, it was Kant. You knew things like that because you went to Goddard.

Yes, it must be the light today; the freezing cold, sparkling clear light that heralds early winter, as it pours every year at just this time through the large east windows downstairs.

The white birch woods are barren with only wisps of red berry bushes hovering in mist just above the ground. Some yellow leaves tremble in motion there as unseen little creatures hustle over the ground below. I can’t think of survival just yet, even though the ugly game appears beautiful just at this moment. Instead, Bodhi Dog and I curl up on that old couch fleece bundled near the iron stove, basking in the radiation of its heat, safe for now against struggle.

This time of year, the wide-gap floor boards glow in amber light, polished in places by generations of feet going here and there throughout the house. How many, I wonder, have sat curled up here by the stove, staring out at the ‘again’ changing world, watching showers of dust motes drift throughout the room? It’s so still. I stare at the piano in the corner with its silent grand memories and fine, barely visible cracks rippling through antique varnish, and think, “another bee’s wax day.”

I am tired already. Already slipping gears, and the day has hardly begun. This can’t be depression: the light’s too beautiful, and I remember you only weeks ago on the lawn, in the sunlight outside—a flower in your own right.

“What a difference a day makes.” How many days ago, was that? —-Fourteen, fifteen? There-about? What a different world it was and how quickly it passed. The maples were at their ‘color’ peak and we talked about them as we always did, trying to come up with descriptions beyond our usual, ‘Renaissance Brocade.’ Some beauty is too beautiful to describe, because a memory becomes instantly second-hand.

How well you knew the mind of joy; its clarity and simple fact. My words fell silent before your powers! Although, you did like the time I came up with: “Not just Renaissance Brocade, but that glass beach I once told you about. You know, near the old Fort Bragg dump.” That was wonderful because you had actually been there in years long before I knew you.

Everybody, including the Mendocino artists think only they know about it. It has that magic effect. Are there any artists left in Mendocino, Jan? It was once such a romantic place—-the kind you love, with raging seas, cliffs, and mysterious cottages perched on rocky ledges, wild gardens, and “Yaa-up” kind-a people. It was years before I realized it reminded you of Maine.

That day only weeks ago, was so rich in beauty: reds, gold, yellow/greens, scarlet, umber—- all the colors bright leaves carry in luxurious riot against a pure blue sky. It was warm and the lawns soft as the fleece Bodhi and I now embrace. Someone had taken you out for air and a bit of sun. I could tell it was you, because from far off, your pink flip-flops stood out against the green of Monument Park. You loved soft grass under your feet. They were so swollen, you could barely walk. It must have felt like heaven!

Bodhi Dog knew you instantly, even from far off—-you were his favorite woman, his Tante Jan! Running up with tail wagging excitedly, he sniffed your bald head and rolled over for a tummy rub. What perfect moments they were with you on the lawn, your head warming beneath an Autumn Sun. You had already begun your journey, and traveled in and out of other worlds as well. We went with you, as you described in great detail how you had an out-of-body experience.

But you did not describe that as a bit unusual. It wasn’t just a story or ‘like Renaissance brocade,’ it was real to you, and one of your best latest dreams. You described in great detail how, when looking down at your face from above, you saw a tiny Christmas village laid out on your white teeth as if in a snow scene. There was the village store, some Victorian houses, the tall-steeple Congressional Church, and a little skating pond, just like those in Currier and Ives prints or Grandma Moses paintings.

We loved it and asked questions about what was there and what wasn’t. You knew exactly what was there and would not be persuaded by additions not invited! You always made me laugh, particularly in the lands where our madness overlapped and our imaginations created laughter, embraced joy and scorned mortality.

I will never forget that you left behind your pink flip-flops that day. You abandoned that last barrier between you and the Gaia Earth. When I saw that, I thought “like pink roses on the lawn,” and then laughed, hearing in thoughts you laughing and saying, “Flip-flops? — Pink roses? … How funny! “    But it was already a memory.


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4 Responses to Pink Flip-flops

  1. robin andrea says:

    This is so beautiful it takes my breath away. When I see Jan’s face, my heart leaps with something like recognition. You have helped us know her over the years with your stunning, breathtaking, ongoing love. Thank you for that.

  2. Tara says:

    A meeting of hearts and minds. Beautiful images you conjur up here.

  3. francarbonaroattnet says:

    Gorgeous writing and re-creation of someone so dear to you. Thank you for including me in this, Michael. XoF

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