In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ode to a Playground.”

This is so funny because my brother and I were just discussing our childhood home.   Our parents sold it about 15 years ago and moved on to greener pastures, but my brother decided to pull it up on google maps a few days ago and sent me the link.  It looks strange to have unfamiliar cars parked in the driveway, to see the yard and landscaping my father cared for meticulously appear a bit unkempt, but more than anything it felt strange that it wasn’t my home anymore.  I lived there for over 20 years.  Since I was an infant.  My brother came home from the hospital to that house.  I took my first steps there.  Learned to read.  Lost my first tooth.

Staring at the picture, I looked wistfully at the tress standing tall from the backyard, towering regally over the roof.  The same trees I played hide and go seek behind, that my dad used to hang hammocks and tents between so we could play make believe games.  The same trees my mom used to mark first base when we she taught us how to play baseball.  I see the porch where I said goodbye to the first boy I ever loved.  The driveway my brother sped into triumphantly after he got his driver’s license.  The puppy that found her way to our front door and decided we were her family.  So many memories.  The happy ones more than make up for the sad.

Whomever is living there now, I hope they have children.  And I hope that every once and a while, they put the video games and tablets down and venture outside into the sun and fresh air and play games, the same old-fashioned ones we used to play.

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Middle Seat.”

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My entire body relaxed as I entered the cool quiet of the coffee shop.  The electricity that crackled in my brain as I’d navigated busy city traffic at lunch hour began to subside.  The tension in my shoulders eased.  Unplugged.  I sought out this quiet, out-of-the-way place because very few people knew of it.  I’d just happened to stumble across it one day; the way I’ve found most of my favorite places.

The owner and employees kept to themselves, the decor was simple, long dark tables, plain white chairs, little art work.  Classic jazz played softly through the speakers.  Plus the coffee was outstanding.  Not trying too hard like the uber-trendy place down the street with bright art work clogging the walls, loud top 40 movie blaring, teeming with hipsters and teens.

I ordered my usual, then settled at in a dark corner in the back with my laptop.  I needed to write.  I was taking a creative writing course and had an assignment due that evening that I hadn’t even started.  A 200 word short story.  As soon as I opened my laptop and took a sip of my cappuccino, the door swung open.  I looked up briefly, expecting to see another regular customer, but an unfamiliar woman stood in the doorway.   She was tall, thin in a fashionable way, wearing all black, a shift dress with expensive boots, minimal jewelry, black hair sleekly blown out.  She could have been a model.  It was obvious she wasn’t a native Atlantan, and that she was probably lost.  She looked like someone who would be more comfortable at the coffee shop a few blocks away.

Her phone bleated loudly, causing the peace-loving owner to look up from her paper and stare her down.  She didn’t appear to get the message since she answered it loudly, clomping over to the front counter.  If she actually was a model she clearly didn’t work the runways like Gisele.  After going through every item on the menu and asking the owner the describe every ingredient in excruciating detail, in between screaming into the phone, she decided on a vanilla latte.

I popped in my earbuds, even though there was no sound coming through them at the moment, and pulled my hoodie over my hair.  It was the universal signal of writers and introverts everywhere.  Don’t talk to me.

Still, despite the fact that it was mid-day during the work week and the cafe was vastly empty, she chose the table next to me, continuing her excessively loud conversation with a person I assumed was her boyfriend.

“Where are you!”  she screeched.  “My feet are killing me.  I’ve been walking all over the place, I can’t find the restaurant!”

“What do you mean!”

“I flew all the way here just to see you!  I took the week off!”

“I don’t want to wait until tomorrow!”

“Your mom!”

“I knew that woman didn’t like me!  She planned this on purpose!  She’s probably not even in the hospital!”

“Well take a picture of her and send it to me!”

“Why not…”

It was at that point that my mood changed from annoyed to inspired.  And I remembered one of the greatest tools at my disposal as a writer – people watching!   My fingers began to tingle as I poised them above the keyboard, a story forming in my brain.  A long-distance romance between a feisty Italian model and mild-mannered photographer gone awry.  Maybe won’t be a masterpiece, but at least I would have something to turn in when I got to class that night.

I turned on some music and started to write.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Imperfection.”

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I view what some think are imperfections as quirks.  I’m super quirky.  To say I’m in touch with my inner child would be an understatement.  If you live in my hometown you may catch me lying on the ground staring up at the clouds with an expression of wonder on my face, running through the grass barefoot, jumping off the swings in my local park, eating with my fingers, leading a group of my friends’ kids in a game of hide and seek or a treasure hunt, dancing and singing down the aisles at the top of my lungs to a great song playing over the loudspeaker at the grocery store or pharmacy, reenacting scenes from my favorite goofy comedies (voices and all), and I never pass an animal in public without stopping to pet it.

I just told someone a few days ago I think our child selves are our real selves. Some may disagree, but it’s a truth to which I hold on strongly.  My child self was the happiest version of me.  And when I let her out as an adult, I’m happiest now.