Fredericksburg and Zarzamora


Insipid and exhausting
The dry heat forced every pore
To work overtime
Bead after bead
And while I sweat…
Pirouette and cabriole’s
Were performed in dark cavernous rooms
Leftovers of an art deco panache

In the deep back seats
Of a late model V8 town car
We would travel everyday
An entire year
As she would spin on her toes and sauté
We distinctly felt each moment
Each tick of the clock

I categorized it as a scourge

But while she practiced the art
Of dancing in opulent Renaissance courts
I found a world unlike my own
While she worked on technique and precision
I crafted my existence
The beginning of a slow recognition
Of man’s fallibility

The yellow flowered vines clung
To chain link fences that were in need of repair
And as we sat parked between white lines
We could hear the work of dancers
Leaping in the air
Landing with a thud
Muffled instruction
Heard through the back door

But we couldn’t stay behind the building
Hiding out all year
Imagination only went so far
So we ventured out

We travelled to a small lake
Which rose out of the concrete jungle
Surrounded by neighborhoods older
Than my grandparents
Birds swooped low and fast across the water
And I would search the grass
For anything I could use as bait
On the end of my homemade pole

Other times
We needed a place to retreat from the heat
Relief came in the form of
Cold dry air
Drying sweaty hair
Rooms full of books
That smelled of aging paper
Where murders happened
Ghosts haunted castles
And history fell into my lap
In the forms of stories about war and famine
Earthquakes and disease

I imagine though, for my mother
It was a particular form of torment as well
Her pores also working overtime
Keeping the energy of animals contained
Long drives that wasted precious fuel
Tanks filled that took money
Money that probably had better uses
In a budget that couldn’t have been tighter
But I think she also was hoping
That the memories
Would indeed be clever
Revealing its inner complexity
When the time was right

Here I was removed
From the countryside that surrounded the sprawling city

This was a world where men slept on sidewalks
Possessions cinched in plastic sacks
With touches of hysteria
Talking to those that were no longer
Or never were
This was a world where buses drove by
Carrying the tired eyes
Of those who rose at dawn
And slept after dusk
Destined to work until their last dying breath

For me it was a brief moment
In an entire life

For others the frustration of commuting
Battling the heat
And having barely a budget to live off of
Was not merely just a yearlong endeavor
A result of a dance scholarship
It was their life

That year
I learned how to love a city
Outside my own neighborhood
About mothers who sacrifice
For their children
And the destitute that struggle
With no education or healthcare

I saw the elegance and pliancy
Of motion
All around me
With the grace

Of a ballerina
Expertly performing demanding choreography

We were all dancers
Learning our parts
For better or for worse
And even if I was
Lacking in acute awareness
Absorbed in my own dimension of space and time
I was learning

I still pass the old building
From time to time
But I only think of stifling heat and long car rides
Just briefly
Before a smile creeps slowly across my lips
Thankful for insight


One thought on “Fredericksburg and Zarzamora

  1. Wow. That was pretty detailed and interesting. It’s fun that you can remember this so clearly, enough as to write down the emotions and impressions you still visualize, feel and smell. You were a very tender observer of everything around you. I always watched you as you stopped everything you were doing to stare at something or somebody. It was something you do now with your kids, I’m sure. You have always been observant and impressionable. Very much so.

    I think I guarded you from what I didn’t want you to be impressed by – maybe way too long. It’s for certain that I sheltered you a long time because of that and struggled (as you well know) when I had to let you go. I had to let you go into the world past my watchful care and guidance. I had to let you go discover and experience the world outside of my control. I guess that was the hardest thing for me. I was overly cautious and overly doting but I knew you and I still know you…as you and Brandi will always know your children, like the backs of your hands. I can still predict your response to things and I can still hear a tone in your voice. I understand you because I was with you at your first breath and practically every minute of your life until that terrible (but wonderful for you) day I had to let you venture away from me…even just to play in the back yard when you were toddling. Ha. However, parents do the best we can when we are raising our kids. We do what we see in front of us. I’m glad your Dad had more vision into your future as to what you needed and persuaded me to let you go!

    It was super sweet seeing pictures of you taking London to her first music concert. That was really a special time that she will never forget. Daddy should be every child’s hero!!! (That’s one reason I fell in love with Jason’s family – because of the way they handled Marvin – the divorced father of Jason and Michele. They seemingly loved having him with them whenever he could be there. They never talked bad about him and kept him as Jason and Michele’s hero. They are the best example of putting the children first that I have ever seen and I have told them so many times.)

    Love you Hero! You and Brandi are such good parents and it is really fun observing your busy and happy family. Even when life squeezes time and energy out of everything you have, you two make sure the kids are listened to and tended to. I love your visible family love and it makes Daddy and I very proud and happy.


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