The Evening Ride

Note: This is a slight detour into a fiction experiment. Yes, fiction. Sometimes I write fiction. Sometimes. 

A lot of the times I write non-fiction, but I try new things and fail every once and a while, just to remember I’m human and still have enough padding (literal and figurative) to fall upon.

Sometimes this results in a mini-fail that leads to a revelation; sometimes it’s a spectacular one that leads to the thought “I’m never doing that again. Ever.”

Hoping it’s not the latter on this one, but some sort of sweet spot of learning but being also able to fall off the balance beam without any major injuries sort of learning experiment.

We’ll see. I guess it will all come out in the wash, right?

Meanwhile–putting my money where my mouth is (and yes, on the internet!) as I frequently tell others to just try, be bold–well, here are I am too. For better or worse.



The Evening Ride


Mrs. Bryant, never referred to by her first name in some fifty-odd years, flies over the speed bumps like her hair’s on fire. She succumbs to nothing like always. Her butter, unlike the ordinary rest of us, does not contain toast crumbs and she is always early to church.

Angie clocks Mrs. Bryant this evening going eighty-five on 98, the divided two-lane highway that leads out of town. The speed limit has been sixty-five for over twenty years.

Della, who has four children, a husband, a mortgage and a van, smokes non-filters slowly in the early evening on her drive to Babe’s Ice Cream Shack in Little Spring. By day, she’s a tour de force that makes all her children eat ALL the vegetables on their plates despite of (or because of, it’s rumored) their groans. She has the laundry crisply folded and put away by the time she pushes her ’55 red convertible down the driveway, careful not to wake her littlest – a three-year-old – before she hits the road. Beautiful Cole is either none the wiser that Della always has to “visit a friend” in the hospital every Thursday night, or like most men, he is but prudent enough not to say a thing as to his wife’s whereabouts.

Bob idles along as he always does, four miles under the speed limit in a truck with bad shocks and rust.

Sam spends his evenings taking Pecan on long walks under the weeping willows and cypress trees near the park. When Sam’s wife is in that no talking sort of inhospitable mad mood, Angie notices him much later passed out on the porch swing, gently swaying. One mocha hand rests on his chest and the other dangles grazing Pecan’s fur, who rests under the swing. Evidently, both locked out for the remainder of the evening.

Tina, Gerdie’s granddaughter, drives in consecutive right turns all night and smacks gum.

Jack, whose wife believes he might have early Alzheimers, gets out on full moons and tries for the city limits to worlds and delights beyond Haven. Most of the others believe he’s part wolf; just sort of odd and restless. Even though his wife has yet to accept as much about him after fifty years.

Stacy from Thousand Oaks Drive and the principal at the local high school speeds all the time and makes no bones about it.

Dana, the skinniest, oldest white lady in town, scuttles off to Hal’s Chicken Drive-Thru at dusk. She eats a whole bucket of fried chicken while looking out to the sunset over 98, right about the time the old gaslight lamp sputters on, highlighting her activities for the whole town to see.

Janey waits for Rick to come home from Blue’s again tonight. Angie sighs as she bites into a melty Twix that she pulled out from the console. I can only control disorder, she thinks to herself, and even then, not so much. If only I could put the world in the order in which it rightly belongs.

Angie remembers Janey at 17, showing off her corsage to Angie, begging for her to take a sniff of the small pale pink roses she received from Rick. She recalls the same sheer delight on Janey’s face when her first child was born.

From the opposite corner of the street, she watches the porch in her rear-view mirror for the tell-tale glow as Janey pulls out a cigarette and the embers highlight her worried face and chipped red nail polish. Angie makes a right turn as she turns off Arching Oak with a sigh, wishing for a better life for her friend.

But Angie knows. Angie has always known.


Brave day


Yesterday, a solemn day.

We remember, those of us old enough to experience it and those of us young enough to sense the enormity of it from our family’s and friends emotional, brow-knitted retellings.

It was a day you wondered where God was. I had wondered many times that day and the days after, had he let our collective foot slip?

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

  Psalm 121: 3-4

I recounted these words yesterday and remembered this feeling of fifteen years ago. That perhaps this loving God had fallen asleep; that somehow He was caught unaware, in the throat, like all of us were on that day.

I remember, most days at least, that He’s with us all along.

But we were all questioning it on September 11th.

Today, I think about the day after all this. The day also, in my opinion, of the brave.

Of those that had to face the first morning alone in twenty years. Of those who had to face the children without their father. Of those who had to make sense of their husbands and wives rushing into calamity and chaos instead of running away. I think of the children that never had a chance to know one or both of their parents because of this. Or the older business owner whose whole life, business, was smashed and covered in smoke and soot the day before.

I pray there was a reason, a something for this pain. Because I can’t grasp a pain this deep and this big without any purpose. A pain and suffering of this level without any purpose would shake my faith to the deepest core.

Today feels as solemn (or maybe it’s just me) as the 11th. The day after feels just as painful; the day we all had to make sense of what had happened and work to move on. To figure out how to live again. To figure out just how to get up out of bed again.

How to muddle through the ordinary the day after. How we were and are brave in the ordinary days after.

Those parents that rose to take care of children, spouse-less, the day after. The firefighters and first responders that woke up and put on their gear for another day of searching, the day after. The parents of missing children that tried calling and calling and praying and praying again the day after. The kindergarten teacher that returned to work the day after. The postman that still delivered mail the day after. The airport and airline staff and security that still returned, the day after.

All of us, the brave and the ordinary, that showed up, even though bloodshot eyed, heartbroken and confused, the day after.

The Church


Recently, a friend of mine in a writer’s group invited us to share our thoughts and opinions about the church with her, as she wanted to do a series of essays of different views about the church. Views about the church as a whole; what the church gets right, gets wrong and any and all things in between.

I wrote a piece about why we need church…and specifically why I need church.

Here’s an excerpt:

I cannot express that enough; we need it, I need it. Some Sundays I need it to get through my week with my pre-pre-teen daughter who has strong opinions about all things, including my mothering and down to exactly how her school lunch should be made.

“But it’s so boring,” she complains, that long drawn out drawl of a whine that all mothers live for. I counter with words about how boring can be good for us, make us grow, stretch, and then say “I understand,” remembering a great deal about my church growing up and a countless number of committee meetings, dry sermons, and all the other things I’ve sat through over the years.

“Why church?” I start, “Because, sweet pea,” I say….Read more here, at Creating Space for Rhythms of Grace


Not a moment too soon


There is a children’s book  called The Cloudspinner – a book about a boy and the environment. A favorite of both the adults in our family as well as the children. It’s a beautiful book–its message, story, and the theme all wonderfully working together to compliment each other.

One of the wonders of the book (at least for me) is the use of lyrical language and the phrase “Enough is enough and not one stitch more” which reinforces the theme of the story. I’ve thought about that phrase on more than one occasion during the back to school bedlam of emotions that I’m still in the throes of.

One of my friends has a blog called Right Where We Are. It’s a homeschooling blog primarily, with some personal insight on her family and joys and the struggles of what it means to be a family. Meaning: A good mix of the pain and the beauty of life.

While not new to the school rodeo (and no new transitions with new schools, or changes or anything new of note) I’ve been holding these phrases close, as it perfectly describes my feelings about life at the moment. Well, at least in my tiny little hemisphere of writing, children, family and laundry. While I’m not going through any new transitions or changes or anything notable personally, these phrases–not one stitch more and right where we are–have been the anthem to what I feel lately. Meaning: I can’t feel or be what I want to be until I acknowledge where I am.

Which for the past three weeks apparently translates to eating everything in the house that’s not nailed down.

Add in a couple of ice cream treats too, because hey–summer’s ending. Or a chocolate piece or three because – well, children and bedtime. Sometimes you have to bring in reinforcements. Especially when bedtime is a hot mess, sometimes nothing comforts or heals quite like a square of dark chocolate.

I’ve been admonishing myself these past weeks; after all, I’m on a plan! I need to take care of my health! Liz, you don’t do this! You need to clean up your act and return to the familiar routine that includes more fruit than say, Oreos. Zucchinis over frappuccinos!

And yet in all of this I’ve realized: This is right where I’m at emotionally.

That sometimes, emotionally, you can’t move on until you see the landscape of where you are. And apparently, that landscape involves cookies and other comforts for me. Which didn’t stop, or couldn’t stop for that matter, until I sat down with coffee and quiet a couple of days ago and thought about all the feelings (justifiable or not) that the returning to the school year brings out in me.

Regardless of whether or not I’m the actual person returning to school.

I’ve found that for me, I have to sit quietly to slow down enough to catch with my emotions (mine tend to run wild and free like unbridled ponies unless I help corral them) and remember that each one of them, crazy and strange as they are, are ok. And whether or not it’s “right” to have this specific emotion for such a minor event as back to school – it’s ok. Transitions–big or small–effect everyone differently.

And back to school – the bedlam and chaos that ensues from a disruption of the summer routine and involves me getting my act together (and my pants on) much sooner than I’d like or am ready for – well, apparently I need treats and coffee and time to finally realize that I’m a bit emotional about the passing of time and need a moment to catch up with those thoughts.

And sometimes, with a piece of cake.