Learned To Let Go

My uncle, Henry, always says waves are unpredictable, like my mother. Her disappearance as he explains it or her abandonment as I describe it, still remains a mystery.

“That’s really been on my mind a lot lately,” I said.

“Get some coffee Matt,” Uncle Henry began.

His voice was deep and rough, it’s the sound of the ocean during a storm. He slid the glass door open and the cool air made me shiver. We took our coffee mugs outside on the deck that overlooks the Mendocino Coast, and watched the early morning fog drift over the water as it pulled away from the shore. Bo, his dog, stayed curled up in his bed by the fireplace.

Continue reading “Learned To Let Go”

When privilege rings

Naming. It’s the thing human’s do. We name to identify. We name to acknowledge ownership. We name something to claim a position, or ourselves and who we are.

This reminds me of the time I’d just come out of a pet store, the large warehouse type. My cart was filled with one forty pound bag of dog food, and the coupon I used barely put a dent in the price. My mood was as grey as the afternoon sky because money was tight again. On occasion, I paid some of my bills on alternate months to stretch our paychecks out. This was one of those months. Building has always been a tough business.

I looked round to find my husband’s truck and saw her. She leaned on a cart filled with her belongings as she drew up next to me. She couldn’t have been much older than me, but her slow shuffle and the dark circles under her eyes told a story much different than mine. We talked for a while. She was looking for a nearby shelter and she was hungry.

At first, I felt awkward. It’s always been moments like those that I’ve felt the confining nature of unjust societal norms. It’s the white version, the diluted side of American social pressures. That’s the moment in which she and I came together. That’s the moment my privilege reared its ugly head and made itself known. Not because some injustice had been forced on me, but because I felt uncomfortable knowing that the woman standing in front of me had great injustices forced on her from the moment she was born. That’s the moment I wanted to beat my privilege with a bat!

Eventually, we said our goodbyes. I gave her the remaining cash in my wallet. I wanted it to be more. I wanted it to come with good fortune and the 400 plus years of advantages and power that have allowed me to walk down many streets without fear, unmolested and unnoticed like a tree in a protected forest.

Just before we parted she said, “My name is Dominique.”

I returned the social grace, and began to wonder just exactly who I was.



© Jan Joe and Born in the year of the dog, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jan Joe and Born in the year of the dog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A gold vein of routine

Tonight there was something soothing in the rhythmic hum of the dishwasher next door. I could hear it best from my bathroom, a tiny space with just enough room for a toilet and a bathtub. I sat there and listened for a moment, or two. Everything else melted away, and I felt my shoulders fall from their perch next to my ears. They’d been there all day. Continue reading “A gold vein of routine”

The upside of wrinkles

I used to be obsessive about a wrinkle that carved a permanent home on the left side of my chin. The wrinkle, one of many now, is in the shape of a thin crescent moon whose open side faces down as if to mimic gravity’s pull. Continue reading “The upside of wrinkles”