Sunday, January 30, 2011


The first time I met your mother it was overcast. She was sitting alone on a swing set. I was walking around the park, the one across the street from the middle school, thinking about picking up smoking again. It was never really a habit up to that point, but I was giving a series of other things in my life a serious push and cigarettes were about to join them. I had on that red flannel, the one you used to wear to bed in the winter, and some hand-me-down jeans. When I stopped to light that first smoke I noticed her. She had her feet crossed in front of her and was using the heels of her boots to make circles in the sand. Her hair was covering her face and when she tried to pull it back some of it stuck to the corner of her mouth. She smiled and pulled a small bottle of schnapps from her inside vest pocket.

There was a day when I was half your age that I was at the same park. My great-grandmother and I were there. Some middle school kids sat at the top of this rocket ship that stood in the middle of the park. You would climb ladders to the different levels, the second highest had a metal slide that burnt your skin in the summer. Those kids were on the top level, drinking schnapps and smoking cigarettes. My great-grandmother kept muttering under her breath about them as we walked around the park. At one point she bent down to my ear, and pointing at the rocket said "Don't you ever be like those kids".