The Freedom Run

The boys were securely fastened into the stroller, happily slurping down the melting juice from their popsicles.

We looked left and right before crossing the busy road to enter the quiet neighborhood where we liked to walk in the evenings.  

It was the first, and often the only time, we had to talk about the day without someone *ahem* (Baby Brother) crying because someone else *ahem* (Little Legs) stole his toy or pushed him down or bit him or was in the process of doing something dangerous that required immediate intervention.

The sky was dark with heavy clouds and wind that whipped through the Bradford pear trees in the neighbor’s yard. I cringed as I watched the tops of their trees bend and shake, remembering last year’s wind gusts that snapped several of the pear trees in half.

“All done,” Little Legs held out a red-stained wooden stick and waved it back and forth.

There was an implied threat, if the popsicle stick was not grabbed quickly, the litter bug would toss it onto the ground. He was teaching Baby Brother to do the same; monkey see, monkey do.

“Got it,” I said, snatching it from his fingers and falling back in-step with Daddy Longlegs.

“Come hold my gooey hand,” Little Legs requested, holding a small, sticky hand to me.

“Mommy and Daddy are talking right now,” I politely declined his request.

“Please,” he begged, “hold my gooey hand.”  

Daddy Longlegs and I laughed; it was easy to decide not to hold his gooey hand.

Little Legs gave us a mean look with a harrumph, turned forward, and settled in for the ride; while Baby Brother hung one arm over the side of his stroller seat and watched the passing scenery, still thoughtfully working on his frozen treat.  

We walked on in companionable quiet, breathing in the cool fall and smelling wet leaves, when we heard a familiar jingle of two metal dog tags knocking against one another. We heard paws pounding the pavement and the clattering of gravel as a spray of tiny rocks was sent out from either side of the running animal.

It was our naughty dog, escaping down the road after us, a blur of black fur and slobber. She was oblivious to the busy road she just blindly crossed or the invisible fence that was supposed to be keeping her safe. She smiled with all of her sharp, white teeth as she ran towards us, thrilled with the reward of her risk in making a run for it.

Little Legs shouted, “Coco! Its Coco!”

Baby Brother yelled, “Dog, dog, dog.”

They were like sailors on a ship, wildly pointing and waving, spotting a whale for the first time, instead of two little boys seeing the same dog they just left behind eight minutes earlier. As for Coco, she grinned from floppy ear to floppy ear at being with her her gang, again.

Her freedom run was worth it, to be with her furever family, fur now, anyways.    

There he goes again.


There he goes again.

I watch from my office window as a man in faded blue jeans limps across the street using a crooked stick for a cane. He wears a straw hat over a mess of grey hair.  From this distance, it is hard to tell if he is wearing his teeth, but it seems unlikely.  In his free hand, he carries a plastic bag from the gas station.  The bag contains his sickness and the cure.

I am surprised to see the man return so soon after the bitter cold of winter, certain that he resettled in the south, retired and resigned from a life of struggle on the street. Then like a bird of spring, he suddenly returned and resumed his daily activities as though there was never any interruption.

Most mornings, the man leaves his nest of dirty blankets and plastic bags and travels across the street to fuel up on cigarettes, cheap booze, and a pack of peanuts or crackers.   He returns to doze in the comfort of his makeshift home until he runs out of supplies and is forced to make the trek once again.  Sometimes he is gone for long stretches of time.  I like to think he made it to the mission for a hot meal and a few days off the street or is visiting with an old friend rather than the more likely truth that he was arrested for public intoxication or hospitalized for seizures.

Time and time again, he returns. Unchanged and uncompromised.  Always limping and always with the hat.

He is surviving off of the elements, earth, wind, air and fire, and asks for nothing more. Yet, the people around him refuse to accept his decision to live and die in the alley behind an abandoned building. He remains at odds with these concerned neighbors.  They want him housed and sober, in treatment, at the least.  They want him to sleep in a bed and eat nutritious meals, to be warm and safe.

Meanwhile, he is determined to drink himself to death, programmed to self-destruct by a wicked and powerful hand. He is centered and focused on a course that is difficult to change; it is one that he is not interested in diverting from and next to impossible for his concerned neighbors to understand.   While they scheme to bring him in, coordinating agencies and professionals in the effort, they forget to look up at my spring bird.

He needs freedom, dignity and is one of the rare few who has not forgotten how to fly.

There he goes again.


Tha Crossroads


Much like Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, I find myself waiting at Tha Crossroads.

(Warning: as a gangster wannabe, this song title has been used slightly out of the context just for the sake of introducing it into my blogging world. My apologies to real gangsters who were hoping to read about gangster related issues. However, the issues of the meaning of life, loss, and sacrifice transcend labels/groups so I hope you will keep reading.)

I am pulled by my heart to be a creator, to live by my own hand, to be spontaneous and free, to write and read and enjoy the world while the sun is shining. At the same time, the lure of money and stability pulls me in the opposite direction. Food, water, and shelter are so darned alluring to a simple human like me.

I figure that I could still have these things if I followed the voices in my head, but the water might be from a river, the food might be foraged, and the shelter might not have four walls.

Whenever I pass a bridge, I consider the possibility of living underneath of it. It’s a habit that I started a long time ago when whispers of another kind of life tickled the part of my brain usually left unused. Some bridge dwellings are passable, while others are too slanted, dirty, or already populated by a fellow “freedom seeker”.

Of course, this scenario might seem rushed to go from job to no job and living under a bridge. Realistically, I would have some time between the two extremes. (Plus, I’m still searching for the perfect bridge.) The time would come, however, when I would have to find some way to make money to survive with at least a few creature comforts, like leather journals, prosciutto and fontanel cheese. If at that time, the perfect bridge shelter remained elusive and I had found no other way to collect a paycheck, I would have to rejoin the 9-5 working world (audible sigh).

Another important consideration to leaving the corporate jungle is who would feed my cats/husband if I lived under a bridge? They would eat pizza every night, all lined up on the couch, watching out the window waiting for me to get tired of “roughing it” as a bridge troll and return home.

While I was mulling over the guardianship and pizza problem of the cats/husband, I found an ad for a llama farm where they were looking for someone to teach sustainable llama farming. At last, a job that really resonated. I could learn a sustainable way to live and support the gang (cats and Mister). The farm owners were even willing to pay $100.00 a month for the training opportunity. Sure, I would have to shovel llama shit, feed and groom the creatures, care for the garden and the list goes on and on of the required activities, but the experience would be priceless.

Unfortunately, the llama farm was too far away, and so like my bridge dream, I had to let it go.

If only there was a way to be creative and free, untethered to the corporate world, and still able to make enough money to support my habits of used books, red wine and writing. Then, I would be able to move forward from these crossroads and in the words of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, I could stop “asking the good Lord why? And sigh, it’s I he told me we live to die.”

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tha Crossroads, Bone Thugs N Harmony, official video:

How to Make a Difficult Decision: 30 Ideas to Help You Choose

The April Fool


Freedom doesn’t mean much until it’s gone.

Deb never knew about the danger of healthcare until she started to really use it. Her diabetes got out of control, so she started going to the ER. She became what is called a “frequent flier” and got tagged as a high cost patient. A team was quickly dispatched to figure out what was driving these frequent visits and put a fix to things before the costs rose any higher.

The team sent her for testing and to specialists for this and that, they reviewed her medications and medical records and came to a conclusion. She was a slow learner with a poor memory and should no longer work, live by herself, handle her own medications or finances.

Wow, what an amazing conclusion made by the team. She should be made an inmate in someone’s home, better yet, maybe have her arrested and taken to prison for being too much trouble, medically speaking.
The team looked around the office once they reached their conclusion for someone to give Deb the good news. Her problems were over. The team had figured everything out.

“There’s really no point in explaining the tests to her, it’s not like she’ll remember.” One team member said to the uproarious laughter of his colleagues.

“You are always good for a laugh,” one woman in scrubs said, red in the face from the funny joke.

They put their heads together in a huddle, like a team preparing to take the field, and came out of it with a plan.

They chanted, “Send in the social worker, send in the social worker, send in the social worker.”

I nodded and straightened up my shoulders, stood a little taller and prepared to take the invisible chains of future bondage into Deb. The team lined up and patted my backside as I walked past them and said encouraging things, like “Go get ‘em” and “Keep your head up.”

There was no time for stretching or to run a few plays first, I had to get to Deb before they did.

I knew what to do.

I walked into the room and closed the door. Deb sat on a chair with a massive purse overflowing with Kleenex’s and crumpled papers on the chair next to her. I stood in front of her and put my hands on her shoulders.

In my most serious voice, I whispered, “You need to leave right now and never come back. Go as far as you can and then keep going. Don’t answer any calls or sign paperwork from these people; they want to take your freedom from you. They want to take your life.”

She cocked her head to one side and looked blankly at me for a minute. Then she started laughing showing her strong white teeth. It was a big, hearty laugh that surprised the team, waiting outside, listening with a cup to the door.

“You people are always joking in here. April’s Fool’s Day, I get it. How much longer is the wait?”

I shook my head, “For you, not much longer. Your troubles are just about to be over.”

Sleeping In

The woman scanned through her calendar. 

Perfect, she thought.  The appointment lines were blank, a clean white for the afternoon. She breathed a sigh of relief; there was nowhere to be and no one to see. 

She began to wonder who would notice if she disappeared for the remainder of the day.  There was so much of the world to explore beyond the heavy doors of Employer X.   She caught herself in a day-dream of a place without time, oh to be able to wake up naturally and lounge about God’s-green-earth at will.  She imagined kicking her shoes off to feel the grass under her feet and to squeeze warm mud between her toes. She ran along and followed a bee as it buzzed between flowers and rested under a willow tree to read a book for the afternoon.

Wake up, she told herself, staring back at the computer screen.  She was back in the climate controlled office, sitting in the middle of a maze of cubicles.   There was no breeze, no birds, and no life.  Plants had just been banned for being too distracting.         

That’s it, she decided.  I’m leaving, I can’t do this anymore.  

Not willing to waste any more energy trapped within the dingy blue walls of her cubicle, the woman grabbed her purse and casually walked out, through the door, and down the stairs.  Play it cool, she told herself, forcing herself not to sprint.  There was only one more door to make it through and she was free. 

“Yoo-hoo, Jules,” a voice shouted behind her. 

She felt her heart fall out of its place and into the pit of her stomach.  She knew that whinny voice.

“You forgot to sign out, Jules.  I was right behind you, silly.  I tried to get your attention but you just headed right down the stairs.”

The woman gritted her teeth; she hated to be called Jules. 

“Don’t worry, I signed out for you.  I guessed you were headed to lunch for the next sixty minutes.” 

“Hi there, Shelly,” Julies ground her teeth.  “That was really thoughtful of you. Thanks so much.  I’ll be sure to get you back sometime.”

“No prob,” Shelly said with a flip of her blonde hair.

They pushed through the doors together and stepped out into the world.  Sunlight streamed down onto Julie’s face and shoulders.  She took a deep breath of the air, it smelled fresh and warm.  

“Oh, I need my sunglasses.  It’s too bright out here,” Shellly complained.  She put her thin hand up against the blue sky to block the sun as she dug around in her oversized purse.

“This world was not meant for one as fair as you, Shelly.  You are better off staying inside, don’t you think?” Julie asked.  

Shelly pursed her lips, “Jules, why do you say things like that?”

Suddenly, a shadow loomed over the women.  It came so quickly, they hardly had time to react.   Shelly began to sneeze, again and again.  

“My allergies are going out of control…..” Shelly’s voice rose as she looked up.

Julie followed Shelly’s eyes above them and took a step back for a better view.

“Oh my God!” Julie shouted. 

It was a giant orange cat, bigger than tiger or lion.  The feline was on the same scale as a small Godzilla or King-Kong.  Where this creature had come from was a mystery as long as its whiskers and sharp as its teeth.   It stared down on the women, small and motionless, interested in what they might do next.  A purr began deep in the monster’s hairy throat.  It realized these were playthings, snacks, mere diversions in the very busy life of a hugely overgrown cat.    

Shelly sneezed and began to creep backwards, towards the heavy door.    

The cat got down low and began to switch its massive tail back and forth.

“Stop it, Shelly.  Just stay still,” Julie whispered out of the side of her mouth.

“NO!” Julie shouted as Shelly bolted.

Julie jumped out the way just as the cat pounced on her co-worker.   The cat grabbed Shelly gently in its mouth, gave her a playful shake.  A perfect mane of blonde hair bounced with each step as the cat carried the screaming Shelly off behind the building.

Julie stared in shock and wondered what just happened.  She noticed the birds chirping again and felt the sun on her face.  She glanced down at her wrist to note the time, and her watch was gone.   She rummaged through her purse to check her phone, it too was missing.   Strange, she felt different, lost.  Something had changed.  Suddenly, she realized, it had happened.  She was there.  She made it to the place without time. 

She laughed and thought, Finally, I get to sleep in on a Wednesday.