Dear Olympian,

Dear Olympian,

There’s a reason you only compete every four years.

Because it takes time to train, to learn and re-learn, to fall, get up, and try again. Many of you have been at this since you were children. Back when it was play, when it was just fun to make the shapes, to feel the wind, to dream the dream.

It’s taken most of you ten years or more to get where you are today.

Yesterday, I told a writer that wanting to be published today is like wanting to be in the Olympics.

She didn’t like hearing that. Because she just wants to fly, and doesn’t want to fall.

But you know what I know – you need the muscle-memory of plummeting to appreciate the soaring beauty of rising up.

Very sincerely,IMG_0644

Writer

Dear Trigger-Happy Cop,

IMG_0113I was 22 and always in a hurry. I drove a dented red car too fast through a Northern California neighborhood on a foggy afternoon. I was no angel, but I was innocent-looking, freckle-faced. No piercings or tattoos, nothing goth or punk about me. When you pulled me over, you looked nice enough. You said simply, “License and registration.”

You didn’t flinch when I opened the glove box. As you surveyed my ID the open window let in the chill of the coastal fog. I shivered in my thin t-shirt. I rubbed my hands together, then nestled them between my legs. In a split second, you screamed “Freeze!” and had your gun trained on my head.

To say that I froze was an understatement. All these years later this scene is locked in my mind like a still from a movie. A furious young cop in straight-armed academy position. “What did I do?!” I shrieked. “I didn’t do anything!” These words fell out of my mouth involuntarily. We’ve all heard them now. We hear them all the time. They are the instantaneous reaction of the innocent.

“Hands up!” You yelled. I lifted my cold hands.”A little lesson when you are dealing with an officer of the law,” you said as you lowered your weapon. “Never, ever reach under the seat.”

I shouldn’t have said anything in return. But I had a smart mouth and you were wrong.

“I didn’t reach under the fucking seat! I reached under my ass! My hands were cold!”

If I had not been who I was, this may have been the biggest mistake of my life. You looked at me oddly, took a deep breath, and delivered the real lesson with your awful reply: “Doesn’t matter what you did. It matters what it looked like.”

You wrote me the speeding ticket. I paid what seemed like a very high price at the time, but which I now know was nothing, absolutely nothing.

Very Sincerely,

Woman Who Wonders If You Learned Your Lesson Too.

Dear Doctor,

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Dear Doctor,

When you called me in the car and told me you’d already faxed the forms to the college, called the sports medicine specialist on campus, arranged for the boot measurement, and verified there was an appointment for my daughter the next day, you thought you’d lost me.

Hello?  Hello?  You said as if the call had been dropped.

I’m here, I said.  I’m just so . . .  stunned.  And touched.  And thankful.

That’s why we’re here, she replied.

And I thought to myself, that is what you don’t see on the hospital website. We are specialists in disease, orthopedics, and in cutting through red tape for scared moms whose kids are far from home.

Sincerely,

Mom

P.S. I’m sorry she went out dancing in her cast last night. She swears you never said  “no dancing.”

 

 

 

Dear Daughter’s Ex-Boyfriend,

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You are not my boyfriend.

But how I wish I had a boyfriend like you when I was young.  Who carried you inside when you are sick.  Who gave thoughtful presents. Who wrote tender love notes.

And you are not my son.

Smart.  Conversant on any subject.  A writer of thank yous.  A bringer of hostess gifts.

But I mourn you now as a little  bit of each — the boyfriend I never had.  The son I never had.

There is a hole in my Christmas list.  There is an empty seat at the table.

I tell my daughters, this is not about me.  This is about you.  What’s right for you.  What I feel doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter, but it IMG_1664does hurt.

Very sincerely,

Mother of only girls

Dear Mom and Daughters On Rented Bikes,

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cami.sandYou stopped at my house.

You asked if my oldest daughter was with me this summer. Or the middle one. Or the youngest one.

Your shoulders dropped two inches when I said no. That they were in other cities, working other jobs. Not here, babysitting, just when you needed one.

I said I was sorry, that I would tell them you said hello, and you rode away.

But afterwards, I couldn’t forget the droop in your posture. You looked hot, tired, overwhelmed.

And I wished I had said what I am thinking now: I’ll watch your kids for you.

Because I miss mine. And someday, you’ll miss yours too.

Very sincerely,

Mom on the porch

Dear Promotional Person Wearing the Giant Sun Suit,

I know you must think, in the tundra days of winter, that you have the worst job in the world. I know your bosses must wonder, as traffic flies by you and doesn’t stop, that advertising doesn’t work.

But when I saw you, your yellow arm waving with a wide swath, saying hello to every passerby with a frosty exhale,  I waved to you.  And when you waved back, then bowed with your spiky ray hat,  I smiled the whole rest of my commute.

I didn’t think: “Look there’s an idiot in a sun suit.”  I thought,  “There is a person who does a difficult job extremely well.”

I wanted to write to your boss and tell him so, but when I doubled back the next day, driving up and down a four-block stretch where I was sure you’d been, expecting to see a business called “Sun Jewelers”  or “Sun Dry Cleaners”, I didn’t see any place OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAremotely like that.

And I didn’t see you either.

Sincerely,

Person Who Waved Back

Dear Hillary,

Dear Hillary,

The publishing business is rough. You pop champagne over a hefty advance, you vow to donate some of it to charity, and the next thing you know, you’re signing a stack of books in the mall and no one’s waiting in line except the assistant manager of the store and John Mc Cain wearing a hat and dark glasses (which incidentally, is about as good a look for him as the scrunchie was for you.)

Hillary, Hillary, Hillary. Sales are down. Your editor is in big twubble. You know what you need? You need to write some guest blog posts for Bookylicious and InMyStacks. Throw yourself some book signings with red white and blue cupcakes you pay for yourself. Have Chelsea make a video with you and some kittens and tweet that shit out.

If you’re really just an ordinary person, as you keep insisting . . .try acting like an ordinary author. And go sell your book, missy.

Very Sincerely,

An Ordinary Author

Dear Person On The Phone In The Hallway,

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Dear Person On The Phone In The Hallway,

Of course your therapist told you to communicate your needs  And why not? After all, the world begs to know. Every status update, every check in, every survey. Tell us what you’re thinking. Tell us what you’re feeling.

And there it goes: A stream of saying what can’t be unsaid, a steady droning whine of complaint.

You sound like a pocket bike passing me on a highway.  Move over. Listen to me.

I am not sitting on the other side of the door hoping you crash.   But when you break down by the side of the road,

I may be smiling when I offer my tow truck. 

Very Sincerely,

The Person Meditating In The Room Next To You

Dear Real Estate Agent,

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Dear Real Estate Agent,

It’s not big or fancy or bold. Out back, it’s dappled light. The scent of something sweet in the air. The feel of moss beneath your hand when you hide behind a tree. In the front, it’s a porch and shutters. And all around, the faintest of maritime sounds in the distance: boats bobbing against a dock, the whistle of a ferry, the warning whoosh of fog.  It’s a wooded place in a harbor town. 

If you find my home, will you let me know?Image

Very sincerely,

Every client who grew up near a lake

Dear Mom,

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ImageDear Mom,

 

Please don’t be upset. Please don’t be jealous that I am having brunch with my mother-in-law today.

Women remain competitive still, don’t we? Into our fourth decade, fifth, or yes, even your seventh.

We haven’t learned – still we bristle, gossip, snipe.

At how unfair it all is. That some get more. Some stay beautiful, some stay well.

Some linger on, without memory, mobility, joy.

And some, like you, are taken earlier, for no reason.

The pretty ones, the smart ones, the ones who work hardest and deserve it all, don’t always win. Haven’t we learned that yet?

You are gone, and you are loved, grieved, remembered, I promise.

But my mother-in-law is the one who lingers. And if she could look in my eyes, if she could finish all the broken sentences she starts,

she might say she is not the luckier one. She might say you are.

 

Happy Mother’s Day.  

Love,

Your daughter

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