>hiding out while we tell stories


He doesn’t spend much time explaining how his daughter was the last in her class to get her driver’s license, or how many times she took the written test and failed. We don’t need to know. What he tells us, instead, is the day she decided she was ready to drive The Bomb in her driving portion of the test, it had snowed a solid 12 inches. Not so much solid snow, but thick slush. The sort of snow that has a mind of its own. How would she parallel park in that? He wondered: had she taken to heart the lesson he tried to teach when they practiced parking the car in front of their house? Be the car, he told her.
Delivering her to the Highway Patrol office to take her test, he remembers how she scooted the bench seat up closer to the steering wheel. Chin firm and pointed above the steering wheel. Just as our mother drove. And our grandmother before her. He remembers. She was wearing black and red mittens, hands tight on the wheel in the 10 and 2 o’clock position.


My day job has me working with/around about fifty people, all but 2 others are men. Sometimes when I leave at the end of the day, the man who onced liked Colorado is headed home, too. In  these quick passings we have exchanged sound-bites about our lives. I’ve learned he rebuilds cars, wishes his daughter was kinder, remodels houses, lost an infant grandson. There is safety in thirty-second moments.
Yesterday as we both headed out to start our separate Memorial Weekend, he told about an in-law coming to visit. He’s a rich man, Colorado told me, but there are only two things the man talks about: dinners someone else paid for or when he gets something for free.


My daughter sits at the table with me. I am working on a manuscript. Our pups are trying to climb onto her lap, but one weighs 75 pounds and the other is a 50 pound tank. She points out the scars on her delicate Irish skin from past encounters with our dogs. Then she tells me she has one good-feeling-scar. It is like a worry stone, she says. When she can’t sleep at night, she finds the scar and rubs it. Its smoothness and indented curve soothe her.  Here, she takes my hand,  feel. 
The sliver of a moon on the calf of her left leg reassures me.


I can’t think of anything bad to write, a friend tells me while talking about being stuck in the middle of writing his latest short story.

(I like this random moment.)


So the photo in this post: my oldest brother’s grandson. We can’t see him, he knows that, right?  He can watch us, but he’s safe there, hiding between the tight circle of ponderosas. I think this is what happens when we talk, when we share stories. All the while we point you in the direction of a driver’s test, an in-law’s visit, the ways in which we get hurt, we unknowingly reveal our own selves.

About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website: https://toomuchaugust.wordpress.com

6 responses to “>hiding out while we tell stories

  1. >Such a wonderful post. It pointed me in all sorts of directions. Love the picture (and your new title picture).

  2. >Wonderful writing here, Sherry and as Kass pointed out to me recently, quoting from your post, it helps sometimes – it feels good, I think she said – to rub at a scar. Thank you.

  3. >I've tried "being the car" and I still can't parallel park. Guess I'd rather be a tree like that young man.

  4. >I enjoyed this post, and your reflection on the nature of telling stories; and I agree that what we select to tell, tells about ourselves. The story about your daughter's scar is touching, in the way of a poem. I love the photograph of your oldest brother's grandson,and the tree itself!

  5. >kass- good to hear-some of those stories i shared in here are still taking me in other directions as well. perhaps we'll met up? :)glad you like the new title photo- it's one of mine (for once, i did not lift from my father or son or daughter or brother or sister). the spot is about 5 minutes from my house (depending on how fast you negotiate the steep hill down to the river)elisabeth, it's always good to hear when someone else relates to rubbing a scar. i think back on events in my life when i had been hurt (not always physically, but otherwise) and realize that the event didn't get the best of me. good to hear from you.rox- ha! every time i hear from you i hear more poetry in your words. be the tree, rox, be the tree. mel- thanks!annie- my daughter sharing her feel-good scar says so much about her in this stage of her life as she transitions into early adulthood. i tell her she is a walking poem. she rolls her eyes and sighs "oh mom . . ."that tree in the photo- i was visiting that area just a week before. i must have walked by the "tree" five or six times and yet failed to see that it was a fort, a great place to hide where no one would ever see me. 🙂

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