One Thousand First Chapters … continuing

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She is shy , the first thing you would notice about her . What you wouldn’t know was the nightmare she has of going to school in a glass dress revealing her naked body . He , on the other hand , is confident and owns the hallway , this everyone sees . The school , a private school of Christianity where once Native Americans danced like thunder to the Sun God of their tribal traditions on the banks of the mighty Grand River . My sister finds feathers , feathers from the fields surrounding our home on the far west side of town , and decorates them into her braided hair . He has a Beatle haircut and lives in the crowded city neighborhood of older brick houses . He collects sports statistics while she collects old dolls .

 

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With his blue eyes , bell bottom pattern pants and a wide white belt holding them up on the hips of his tall yet slightly stocky body , she notices him . They pass each other going opposite ways as if his belt is the clear white line on a busy city street . She hears from our brothers friends how he made the final list for the freshman basketball team before the start of school and then was cut before the first game because of his swaggering attitude towards the coach . You would know that this was Sams nightmare !  Our dad was like that too, I mean the overly self-assured attitude , and so she was intrigued , like watching an Alfred Hitchcock Hour on the television wondering what the mystery was all about .  She didn’t even know his full name yet , only that he was loud , had a handsome smile and was popular at school . Finding out that the girl in her English class , the one that looked like a modern-day Alice with bright green velvet shoes bouncing like soft moss along the shiny waxed hallways  and with hair long and naturally wavy floating with a ribbon like a breeze from wonderland , is his  sister . His smart sister whose friends were older and wrote for the school newspaper , organized liberal political forums and made up the attendance of almost the entire drama club . Tavisha watches for Sam and he begins looking at her . They sit together in morning chapel and Friday night basketball games and skip Latin class to go riding thru the city on his motorcycle . My sister only being use to long hours pedaling that old red bike of hers !  … which he laughs about .

 

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Lara Zankoul photography

 

His mother has no garden unless you consider the vast amount of home canned jars of vegetables stocked on the shelves of her basement pantry, one . A mother who is comfortingly plain in appearance and dress with flat leather shoes like a decent set of snow tires prepared for the approaching winter . She is the opposite of our petite and glamorous mom . A large woman with no care for made-up looks unless having to attend a function at the University with her husband who spends much of his time when at home in the private study on the third floor preparing for his history lectures . Her daily decoration only being her wedding ring and an out of the ordinary and beautiful large golden pendent hanging from an intricate long chain that rests heavy on her bosom like an exotic fur coat in the window of Bloomingdales . Her oldest son giving it to her after returning from years living in the warmth of Africa . My sister admired this gift and it’s origin  and later would understand about the cold feelings of a mother because of her future daughter-in-laws sinsImage

 

Sam and Tavisha fall in love at sixteen , graduate high school together , break apart for a year and marry the following when I am only five years old . Five babies are born within seven years and she is filled with an Almighty joy , a joy even greater than a first sight of a never before seen ocean or the sweet tenderness of seeing a colt being born in the soft hay of our grandfathers barn . Sam works at a job long hours . A job he too finds his purpose in . And together they are happy for awhile until my sister falls . Falls from the fragile torture of keeping things hidden , even from herself for awhile , a long while , a while almost fifteen years long … and when she falls , shards of sharp glass hurt the trusting bare feet of those that love her . She tries hard to glue the scattered pieces of her glass dress together but only sees , like a dropped mirror , a sadly broken and frightened reflection ….. to be continued…

 

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To my enduring friend and father of our children with gratitude

 

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Lara Zankoul photography

Letters Home continued … excerpts from Bulgaria … February 2014

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I haven’t been out of the village for over a month until once again going to Plovdiv for the third time the other day . I had run out of drawing paper and all of my pens were dry . But once I had arrived the shops didn’t interest me this time and I didn’t desire anything the way I did before , not even the beautiful European clothes in the windows . So I sat in the park and watched the people of this foreign land . Is it true that no two humans look exactly alike ? Does that mean thru out all of history too ?

 

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Photograph by Ellen Rogers

 

An old man gazed at me and I thought he was Ulysses . And some young girls looked like Trojan women . I was sitting near an olive tree wondering if I might decide to travel to Istanbul before leaving here the first of April . It’s a bit risky as my visa has expired now and yet it’s so close with buses leaving and returning three times a day and I could stay over nite in a hostel since my responsibilities with the home owner in Gita end a week before my flight home . The cultural crossroad between Eastern Europe and Asia and the market stalls of Turkey are a huge lure .

 

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I had an hour before the bus left so up the hill I wandered into the old part of the city to the church I had been in before . From my travel book I remembered that it was St. Haralambos Day . I was not prepared ( I never seem to be here in Bulgaria ) for the inner beauty I found on this rather melancholy day . Hundreds of jars of honey in the form of a cross appeared looking like fire from all the candles lit and the glowing chandeliers  . I learned that when consecrated , honey is believed to possess curitive and magical power . All the faces were illuminated and the high priest chanted .

 

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This morning when I went to let the dogs out from the back studio room , I found Polly dead … not in her bed but laying in a cardboard box she had never laid in before . I started to cry a lot . I will have to bury her now . I’ve never done this before . I carried her out and laid her in the grass where I washed her stiff body with warm water and some dried lavender … then watched the sun dry her and made her paw nails as white as I could … wrapped her then like a baby in her favorite blanket … she was curled up on her side … and I placed her in a two foot hole I had dug … she liked to eat the fallen walnuts so I put some in the grave next to her for her departure back into the earth … and on top of the black soil I placed three large stones … she is in the apple orchard now .  I wish I could have embalmed her little animal body with oils and salts and spices and wrapped her instead in linen bandages preserving her for a passage to immortality in paradise . I would have decorated a wooden casing for her to lie in with gold leaf and written , ” Farewell Polly “.

 

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The moon finally receded after a nite of sleepless loneliness . How is it that a new day can appear so unlike the previous one and so suddenly like running deer on the road ahead the way they do back home in Michigan . In the last week the temperature has gone from close to zero to now 55 degrees and my hands are finally warm . I walked alone without my little pal today far out to the fields following the cows . There is an old cement bridge I like to sit on and today I stayed here ( photo below ) most of the day .

 

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I love watching the sparrows and falcons and saw an eagle too , a bird of prey like Peter the Great , with its wide wing span floating over the valley gently like Ghandi . I’m sitting here with my notebook thinking of how I want to live my life when I return home and hoping I take Bulgaria and it’s creative and spiritual realm with me . I feel the eyes of God . Will the vibration follow me … the music …the harmonies … the memories of these days ?  Will you notice that I’ve changed , changed so much and that I am old now … the haunting of Bulgaria embedded on my face …

 

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