Before a secret is told, one can often feel the weight of it in the atmosphere.
On January 26th, 1948, a full moon shone brightly in the Winter sky. The next time the full moon will be that close to the earth will be on Monday morning at 6:22am. The next time you can see a Supermoon that close to Terra Firma will be 2034. Tonight, it is just Waxing Gibbous. It is at 97.4% of a full moon. And it is cold out. There is a frost in the air and the stars are shining bright. Winter is coming.
They are saying it is going to be a mild winter this year. Another La Niña. So this means I could probably lay on the beach for New Years.
It’s the middle of the night. Sleep comes and goes tonight. I’m feeling restless, more than I have in a long time. Afraid to close my eyes and afraid to stay awake. Work comes in three and a half hours. It will be a long day.
My arm is doing better. I had a case of hairspray fall on my left elbow a month ago. It hurt like hell when it happened, but only for a few minutes. But then a week later this… thing… started sticking out of my elbow. Like a Dr. Scholl’s pad golf ball. I’ve been to doctors a few times for this. I even had my first MRI. Not an experience I care to repeat. Last week I learned I had a slight tear in a tendon. So I’ve been on light duty at work for a month and will be for another few weeks. I work a tough job, but for scheduling purposes, there are reasons why I work that job. It isn’t for the weak, that’s for sure. But I feel the weight of age creeping up on me sometimes. An odd ache here, a desire to take a nap in the middle of a day off. And I’m not even fifty.
I haven’t been writing here as much as I could. I have plenty to say, and plenty or articles ready to pop. I’ve never had more research in my life. But right now, America and Delaware seem to be dealing with President Trump in one of two ways: it is the end of democracy as we know it or it is the best post-coital bliss ever. I don’t want to throw stuff out there that will get bypassed for yet another article about Trump. I’m also at that point in education where I have to start calling people and organizations out. Ones that, when I began this journey, I thought were on the side of kids. But they aren’t. The picture starts to get blurry and the colors start to merge. I wish I could say there are those that I thought were the “bad guys” but then I discovered they aren’t. But I can’t say that. Yes, Jack Markell will sail off into the sunset. Secretary Godowsky will go with him. But what Jack made for Delaware is still in play.
I have this sense of foreboding tonight. I don’t know why. Maybe I do. Things are going to change. I know this but I want to wish it away. Taking things for granted is never a good idea. I want things to be simple again. But they won’t be. The last time things were simple for me was in 1975.
The summer after Kindergarten, my mom had to have an operation of some sort. I couldn’t tell you what it was for, but it was enough for my parents to send me and my brothers to a family friend’s house for a couple of days. We went to see Peter Pan, the classic cartoon version. Afterwards, we went to our friend’s church. I don’t remember how it got to that point, but I remember the minister asking me if I had anything to say. So I told the whole church about Peter Pan. I went on and on and on. Everyone in the church was laughing and smiling. I didn’t understand at the time that they weren’t laughing at how great Peter Pan was, but the fact that a five year-old boy was talking about this in God’s House of Worship. Of course, I felt like the king of the world and the audience loved me. I was the star of the show.
That was the last time things were truly simple for me. Genuine, unadulterated bliss. When you are that young, the world revolves around you. You are the center of the universe.
I won’t be falling back to sleep tonight. I would be getting up in an hour and a half anyways, so what’s the point. I’ve already started my first cup of coffee. To me, there isn’t anything better than that first sip. Hopefully that, and a couple more, will do the trick for the day ahead of me.
Now I’m thinking of an earlier time, before Peter Pan. My family and I were in church. My Dad, Mom, my three brothers, and myself. All I remember was that I was crying because my Mom went up to get Communion. My Dad was holding me in his arms. But I felt lost and scared. I couldn’t have been older than two or three. My father pulled out a little toy giraffe, no bigger than my hand. For some reason, that giraffe gave me comfort. It eased my troubled toddler little mind. But I see it differently now. I see a father holding a crying baby who wanted his mommy. And in that moment, he found a connection. Instead of getting upset, he gave me something he hoped would give me comfort and a feeling of safety. It worked. I remember holding that giraffe in my tiny hand and looking up at my dad. In his eyes I saw a feeling of calm, of peace.
I haven’t thought, or written, about that moment in a long time. The last time I wrote about it was in 1988. I was in a creative writing class for the first half of my Senior year of high school. Our final project was to write an autobiography based on something important in our life. I wrote about my walk with God. And I couldn’t very well talk about God without writing about all the people in my life. This project became bigger and bigger the more I wrote. It was about my life, from birth until that very snowy January over seventeen years later. I believe it was about 24 pages, typed. I got an A on it. We had to read it in class. I remember a few of my classmates crying when I read it. I remember asking them later why they cried. They said they had no idea or close I was with God. I wasn’t a Bible-thumping evangelist running around my high school reading scripture every chance I got. But in my thoughts, I pondered and wrestled with questions of faith back then.
It’s always darkest before the dawn. At least that’s what they say. It is now 3:15am. My alarm will be going off at 4:30am. I’m leaving it on in case weariness overcomes me and I succumb to somnus.
I was a wreck last Christmas. I never got the tree fully set up. My son was transitioning to his fifth school since Kindergarten. In six years. It took its toll on me. On my family. I wonder sometimes if I will ever find a reason or answers to why my son had to go through so much at such an early age. I watch him sometimes, struggling with his disability. Those times when he asks God why he has to suffer through painful and repetitive tics. Why his mind sometimes feels muddled. Other times he refuses to believe in God because how could any God do that to a human being. I see the host of people who have come in and out of his life. Too much “goodbye” and not enough “hello”. I struggle with my own thoughts on this. When do I let go a little? When does my fighting interfere with his ability to self-advocate? He is fast becoming a teenager. That transition period between boy and man. When do I see the disability? When do I see the boy-turning-into-a-man chrysalis? Tourette Syndrome is not all he is. He has it. It affects him. But it isn’t his whole being. It is not his whole life. It is just baggage he has to carry with him on his own walk through life. One day, he will have to find peace with it. I pray that day comes soon, but all things come in time.
What madness has struck upon me during this waxing gibbous that I am poring all these memories and feelings onto the screen? I don’t know. But it feels right. Sometimes writing is my way of purging things. Or coming to terms. Reconnecting with the world. I can throw numbers and statistics and secrets on the screen all day long. But none of it means anything if I don’t have that reconnection. I can’t be tethered to education all the time. How I see education is not how most see it. I dive into the cesspools most don’t even know exist. Waters that don’t look that deep, but they will suck you in and drown you for all its worth. But it is worth plenty. I have no regrets. This is my way of walking away from it. At least for this moment. To see life beyond the lies. Because there is so much that human beings never learn in the classroom. The painful and hard lessons they learn in real life.
Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. He has this uncanny knack for dealing with the most abstract of thoughts in the simplest of ways. So that anyone can understand it. The above picture comes from his Sandman comic-book series. It ran 75 issues, from 1988 until 1996. I didn’t catch on to this series until 1991. By then it was well-known. Each issue became a gold-mine when it came out. By the time the 74th issue came out, I was preparing to move to another country. Young love and a huge sense of wanderlust brought me to Sweden in 1996. I was there for two months when I walked into a newsstand one evening. I was killing time before going over to a friend’s house. I sold about 90% of my comic-book collection before moving and I didn’t really have much intention of picking up the habit again. But there it was, staring at me. Sandman #75. The last issue.
William Shakespeare appeared in an earlier issue of Sandman. Gaiman crafted a reimagining of the Bard’s inspiration for A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream in the story. Morpheus, also known as the Sandman or Dream, granted William Shakespeare the inspiration for all his plays in exchange for a boon. Shakespeare wrote two plays for Morpheus. The play highlighted in the earlier issue was A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. But the last issue was based on The Tempest. Ironically, this took place prior to the pivotal moment in the series six issues earlier, but it served as the perfect moment for Dream to sleep.
I’m halfway done with my second cup of coffee. For the first time in well over eight years, I read the last issue of Sandman again. I am left wondering: do I inspire or am I inspired? Do I write for you or do you read for me? Do I amuse or am I your muse? Weighty thoughts, heavier on my shoulders by little sleep and not having the ability to dream.
I leave for work in an hour. This has been a distraction. Away from my fears, my worries. A distraction from a truth wrapped up in a secret. We all do this. We refuse to face a reality so we hide from it. We try to cover it up. But it’s always there, staring down at us like a Supermoon.