How October Tastes

1 Oct

Day 21 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

My first boyfriend was freshly cut grass for Friday night football games and the feeling of a cheerleading uniform against my ribs. And when he kissed me for the first time, well that was a rose petal rubbed between your pinky and thumb, and the sound of rain falling on the leaves of a tree right above you. And when we got in our first fight it was a perfectly good ice cream cone dropped in a muddy puddle, and the number 9 spray painted in red on a rotting garage collapsing into itself.

My mother is the relief of hot chicken noodle soup when I have a sore throat, and the smell of fresh mulch and the sight of brightly colored fabric spread out in strips on our wooden kitchen table. When she makes me laugh it’s the feeling you get when you skip a step and your stomach jumps up and grazes your throat, like an adolescent boy jumping to touch the ceiling. 

My father; The sound of a tractor grinding along a hill and the way the sun looks bursting through a web of tangled trees on Saturday mornings. His laugh smells like coffee and his hands are as big as the number 8. When he comes home from work it feels like the first time you hear your favorite best-kept-secret artist on the radio, and you’re happy for them.

And when my mother and father joke and laugh with each other, it is Christmas morning with snow lightly falling outside. They kiss and everything is warm burnt orange and smells like cedar logs burning in a Colorado fireplace at the end of October. Affection is always the end of October.

And sometimes you just need a good cry. Cries that taste like car keys in your mouth, cries that look like the flattened furry red smear on the side of the road. Cries that break and scream and moan, cries that crack rock and shake picket fences and feel like the moment you lose your bank card.

And then you should laugh. You should laugh like hot apple cider at eight a.m., laugh as bold as running head-on into wind. Laughing that expands like bulging bacteria beneath the microscope of a child peeking one eye wink closed for the first time at the world they never knew was there. Laughing is never dark green. Laughing is the number 2, repeated again and again until it starts to look funny to your eye.

I once had a lover who whispered like a heartbeat screams while walking down an abandoned alley in the middle of the night. He looked like shadows cast from frozen branches streaked across a streetlight, and he sounded like Claire De Lune. When he kissed me it was trying to crinkle thick sandpaper with only one clenching fist, and an abandoned wooden swing swaying gently saying sit. His eyes were the sound of screaming brakes, and his hands were two stream-smoothed stones that I could rub red all winter long. He tried but just couldn’t, and that was sliding into cold sheets wearing nothing but your own skin.

And unrequited love is purple and blue lighting somewhere off in the distance out of the corner of your eye. It’s finding a penny tails-side-up and tripping over your favorite pair of shoes and stepping right on a you-could-have-made-a-wish dying dandelion. Sometimes it can smell like cold Thanksgiving leftovers, or burning gasoline. It is also writer’s block.

But with real love, you want to bring the hot mug up to your face and smell the steam of it first before swallowing sweetened wet. It’s dripping out of the pool onto searing cement on tippy toes jumping until you can handle it. It is never pink, but instead a deep, rich purple and flushing lily yellow. Love is early April and also late September, and it’s riding a bike for the first time in three years. It tastes like that first big swallow of hot chocolate the moment it’s not too hot to drink anymore.

And some days will feel atom bomb clear, while others are the color of seasick sunken jowls- and that’s okay. Life isn’t always going to be perfectly toasted marshmallows and a barn owl’s eerie softened secret spread thin along the moon. Sometimes it will be the number 9, it will be putting your dog to sleep, it will be picking at your hang nail while waiting for the call that never comes. There are black times and there are white times, and if you’re lucky there will be the gray times, too. The silver lining days. The days that get deeper and sweeter and can change color just with a little moisture. The important thing to remember is your favorite pair of jeans.

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One Response to “How October Tastes”

  1. mmohara October 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    Once again showing that poetry is a mind’s medium, a body’s food, and a soul’s water. Reading this particular blog tastes like my Grandmother’s Thanksgiving’s Christmas Easter dinner, past and future rolled into pumpkin pie dough and baked golden brown, flaky perfection. Reading the the blog over time feels like the cool breeze of fall coming off the pond, caressing the pine trees, tickling the birch trees, and dancing among the orchards of my memory, or surging across a dewy spring meadow, ruffling my hair, or the feather light touch of a summer’s eve lift in the air, held aloft by the cicada’s call. Lovely!

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