More from Present Tense, Vol. 2
Les. His name is Les–in bright, white, shiny-stitched letters on a red oval just over the pocket. Dark gray uniform.
Mr. Les. Our elementary school janitor/maintenance man.
Les has a smiling face even when his lips may not be turned. His eyes are perpetually up/happy/sweet/youthful. Light blue, effervescent, smiling icicle eyes. Mr. Les takes our tickets at lunch. He takes our tickets and gives out winks and smiles.
He pinches the small carnival ticket between his thumb and the fleshy lower section of his curled up index finger. He does this with kindness, gentility and ease; as if he’s softly
offering his hand to a nervous dog.
His job does not diminish him in spirit or in body. He energetically does his tasks even
though his perfectly white hair reveals his age. And his pride does not grimace at the simplest/basest of tasks. He sprinkles magic janitor dust on vomit, pee and all manner of stains. Dutifully.
He is friendly to all. He is especially nice to me. I respect him. I have no reason not to. His humility and warmth are rare. He is decent. He is tender.
He is an uncommon man. Hero.
The air is crisp. The wind is swift. He carries me from the playground when I twist my ankle and can’t walk. He carries me all the way to the healthroom. I’m at least 100 lbs.
The air is warm. The wind is still. He puts his arm around me, pats my back, reassures me that I am loved and respected when a girl threatens my friends and me at recess. “We’re going to miss you around here when you leave.” Tears.
I love you, Mr. Les. I don’t know where you are, or if you’re even still here, but you were/are a good man. And you made this child happier. Thank you.
For my daughter. She just started high school and it’s a bit overwhelming. She’s doing great, but it’s a little scary.
The picture above is her at the KC Zoo, having fun on the carousel. She was 6. Shot with a Nikon, 35 mm, manual. It was a fun day.
Hold on tight, dear.
Don’t let go.
The carousel twirls faster
The more you know.
Life goes by
In a furious blur.
But it’s oh-so thrilling,
Full of adventure.
Up and down.
You might get sick.
You might lose your head.
You might just love it.
Turn the world around instead.
Don’t be scared, Darling.
You have to be strong.
You’re not alone.
Mom’s here all along.
So throw your hair back
And laugh at the ride.
Have fun on the carousel.
Don’t leave it untried.
Proud of you, Honey. You’re so special. One of a kind. Brilliant, beautiful and bound for glory! Don’t settle for less, always challenge yourself. Don’t worry about what people wear, say or think. You belong to God. Your value comes from him.
And always ask for help! We’re here for you. Your teachers, counselors and parents. It’s normal to feel anxious, everybody does!! 🙂
I don’t always spell things korrectly. Or punctuate! “in the right place”. or capitalize. But dammit, I’m a college graduate!!
I have 2 two-year degrees now from Metropolitan Community College. A very liberal arts degree from the 90s. LOL And I’m very proud of this most recent degree–graphic design, an applied science! (sounds so awesome, Imma scientist! lol)
It was hard to go back to school at 36. To be surrounded by people half my age. To relearn art. To move from Photoshop User to Artist. To embrace my creativity and hone my skills.
Everyone gambled on me. And I wanted to succeed.
I finally did.
I got sick just after finishing my classes. I never applied for graduation. I tried to follow up with the school about completion and transferring some classes from UMKC, but trying to find an actual job and getting very sick just left graduation simmering on the stove. For 6 years! UGH!
Embarrassing. But I knew I had my skills. I didn’t need a piece of paper.
Well. Yes. I did. LOL But when you’re sick? Just getting out of bed is an accomplishment.
Thank you to my prof who helped me grad-geeate. I was sick for so long and to have this is healing. It’s my cap and gown, it’s my walk down the aisle, it’s my handshake. Thank you.