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  • The radio is an alarm…tired, more than usual? Tax season. Tax season is over, happy, but then…

    A quote on the radio…what is that quote? I’ve never heard it, but, my heart is heavy and then, I remember. Bombs.

    What is that exercise? “I remember”….Neighbordeb…I remember….

    I remember that woman from the Oklahoma bombing. She heard a loud warning voice telling her to get out but she didn’t listen. She lost her arm, her legs, her child and her mother.

    I stretch and haul myself out of bed. I scratch the cat while she stretches, too. “Morning, Raisin.”

    I remember Vassil, my roommate, turning the TV on in the living room, shouting, and me trying to figure out what the trade center is, New York? Then seeing it, the plane, the tower, and beginning to (not) understand. Vassil and I standing close together, watching together, crying together.

    I flush and brush.

    I remember the defeat in Mississippi, pervasive….the wonder….the snow ball stands….the no-see-ums…my flooring partner who wouldn’t tell me how old she was but had just celebrated her fiftieth wedding anniversary….the sore muscles…the Mennonites staying on the same property, but separate….the tales of miracles….the long, awkward, dangerous decent from my bunk bed each morning….the shy woman whose house we worked on as she lived in a FEMA trailer behind the house….the sweet tea….the Katrina stories…my dad telling me he doesn’t have the god gene….thinking that I don’t have the god gene either, but I’ve got the miracle gene…I know how to work for miracles.

    I can’t find the curling iron so I plug in the hot rollers.

    I remember looking out the window….Paw-Paw wandering around outside in the heavy rain, undershirt and scapular, plaid Bermuda shorts and no shoes, checking the pumps in the eye of the hurricane….the wind picking up again and yelling. Hot biscuits and home-canned figs and room-temperature powdered milk, just made and frothy. The morning, very dark. The radio blaring warnings(?) in French. My sister and me, safe and dry inside.

    I choose the red blouse with navy slacks, stupidly patriotic.

    I remember standing in the doorjamb, my baby in my arms when the shaking begins. Soon my dad is yelling from his door jam. Where’s Brian? Wake up!!!! How did I get up, grab the baby, and get to the doorjamb before the earthquake even started?

    “Morning, Debi.”

    I remember the neighbor pounding at the door, screaming, “He’s gonna kill me!” She ran into the house and ran and locked herself in the bathroom. Then her husband came and my dad tried to keep him out. He didn't.

    I feed the cat. Too late for my breakfast, maybe I can get something at the office.

    I remember that there are no groceries anyway, cereal but no milk. Tax seasons over, happy to have a refund, happy to have time to get to the store, finally….

    Sun glasses, seat belt, book on tape…I drive.

    That Prius is facing the WRONG way in the left turn lane! No. Four crumpled cars are every which way in the road in front of Starbucks. Two fire trunks, a cop car, a volunteer police car with an old guy directing traffic (badly), a motor cycle cop busily walking through the scene, his notebook open in his hands. Traffic everywhere.

    I have to go through the intersection heading the wrong way, I make a u-turn to get through the detour and drive through the accident, again, to get to the freeway.

    A woman hitching up her baby in footy pajamas and sitting herself on the side of the planter. Was she in the accident? Two fire fighters in yellow jackets and slanting yellow hats leaning down in front of her, arms out.

    Through my car speakers I hear….

    ‘Good morning, good morning!’ he cried, smiling with great affection. ‘Here’s our old friend the Bellone just to leeward.’

    ‘Ay. So Pullings tell me. Do you mean to fight with her?’

    ‘I mean to sink, take, burn or destroy her,’ said Jack, a smile flashing across his face.

    ‘I dare say you do. Please to remember the watch they took from me. A Bréguet repeater, number 365, with a centre seconds hand. And three pairs of drawers, I should know them anywhere. I must go below.’

    “Drawers,” and I chuckle and smile, finally, “Leave it to Stephen to worry about his underwear before the moment of battle.”

    Too many cars waiting for the on ramp signal, too much traffic today….late….

    A bird making happy flutters over slow moving traffic. Beautiful.

    ‘All hands to repel boarders – pikes, pikes, pikes!’ he shouted, drawing his sword and racing to the forecastle, the likely point of impact, vaulting a dismounted gun, a couple of bodies, and reaching it before the smoke cleared away.

    He stood there with twenty or thirty men around him, waiting for the grinding thump of the two ships coming together.

    A hawk above making slow moving circles…then, a crow? Attacking the hawk once…again….saving it’s nest?

    Parking, again.

    The cool clean wind whipping between the tall buildings, fresh.

    Hungry, I detour to the deli, the smell of microwaved eggs (No.), a perfect green banana, a zone bar, milk or coffee? I’ll have coffee at the office. A fresh face, a familiar face, a fresh smile. “Oh, I have a penny.”

    Boot computer, Carl Perkins first….comfort music.

    Now all your children wanna rock, mama
    All your children want to roll
    They wanna roll, wanna rock, wanna bop till they pop
    All your children want to rock

    Then I Google to find that quote from the news. Google asks, Resources related to the Boston Marathon explosions? No. Ah, here it is…Fred Rogers,

    “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

    So I start to list the helpers today,

    Marathon runners and spectators
    doctors and nurses
    first responders
    people running to the rescue
    Carlos Arredondo
    Oxnard UMC
    Katrina rebuild volunteers
    a waitress
    a woman who asked for help
    my dad
    disc jockey
    my roommate
    Ventura County Fire Department
    Thousand Oaks Police Department
    a mother and her baby
    Thousand Oaks, Volunteers in Policing
    a black bird
    a crow
    an author
    the wind
    a deli clerk
    a singer
    Mr. Rogers
    people who pray for peace
    Cowbirds who read this story, yes you…

    Quotes from Patrick O'Brian’s Post Captain (Aubrey/Maturin Novels), and Carl Perkins’ “All Mama’s Children.”
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