• Mathura Hawley

dreams


Yesterday, I sat across from a married couple in a Starbucks in Texas, his ringed hand holding her right one. They sat motionless until she lowered her head onto his shoulder and he pulled her close, and I looked away in jealous anger as salty tears formed under my lids. "

Tears welled quickly in my eyes for no apparent reason, and I swallowed hard and doubled over into the empty seat near the backdoor of the N Train. I couldn’t stop what was coming, and began to sob uncontrollably into my curled arm. Last week, I had a nightmare that the person I loved the most told me he no longer loved me, and I felt so vulnerable that I tried to scream in a terrified panic. I awoke still moaning and rolled over to an empty pillow, and the realization of truth made me lose my breath completely, forcing me to sit up to pull air into my lungs. Yesterday, I sat across from a married couple in a Starbucks in Texas, his ringed hand holding her right one. They sat motionless until she lowered her head onto his shoulder and he pulled her close, and I looked away in jealous anger as salty tears formed under my lids. I thought of the little blonde boy in overalls who ran past me last Sunday in Prospect Park, singing a song and jumping up and down, and as I looked down at him one of his two dads reached ahead and grabbed his hand. “Sorry,” the dad said. “So am I,” I thought, remembering that was going to be me next summer chasing my son, and that it will never happen now in my lifetime. I try to let go, to let life take me where it will. But in my pain, in my tears, and in my disbelief that this is my experience, I have to wonder: When will my breath finally go deeper, when will my dreams surprise me once more, when will I smile in confidence and not from obligation…and will I ever be able to trust in anything or anyone again? I guess it is not for me to know when, just to believe that it will.My father’s sister, Gigi, had a plus-size figure and a big personality. She wore her long hair up in a bun, black rhinestone covered cat-eyed glasses and dark capes and she chain smoked Pall Malls. She and her husband, Frank, who loved to watch Hee Haw and never said much to any of us, lived with and cared for my grandmother a few blocks away from where I lived. Their house always smelled of simmering gravy and apple pie, and there was a steady stream of people in and out their front door, socializing, gossiping or just wanting her attention. She was strong willed and opinionated and I craved her approval and firm embrace. During the summer, I would hop on my yellow Huffy and take my new 45’s over to play for her as she loved music as much as I did. One day I propped my bike against her front stairs, opened the porch screen door and stepped into her living room, just past the closet where she kept stacks of games for us. She came out from the kitchen, an apron covering her black dress and big jewelry. I handed her the record and she opened the oak cabinet and placed it down on the turntable. As it played, she walked back and forth around the kitchen, cooking and listening. When it finished, she came out and put her arm around me, squeezing me, and in her raspy deep voice she said “I don’t care for that one but I’m glad that you like it.” And she replaced it with one she knew we both liked, Mama Cass singing “Dream a little dream.” We stood there together and listened to the whole song, and she never took her arm from around me. Gigi was the only person in my family who could actually see me, who I felt connected to, and who could tell me the truth, with no trace of sarcasm or judgment. And I loved her for it. And I miss her. And I always will.


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