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Sweet Thing

 

Renee Carlino

 

Published by Renee Carlino
Visit Renee Carlino’s official website at
www.reneecarlino.com
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Copyright © Renee Carlino, 2013

 

ASK

Words and Music by Johnny Marr and Steven Morrissey

Copyright (c) 1986 MARR SONGS LTD. and ARTEMIS MUZIEKUITGEVERIJ B.V.

All Rights for MARR SONGS LTD. in the U.S. and Canada Controlled and Administered by UNIVERSAL - POLYGRAM INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING, INC.

All Rights for ARTEMIS MUZIEKUITGEVERIJ B.V. in the U.S. and Canada Controlled and Administered

by WARNER-TAMERLANE PUBLISHING CORP. All Rights Reserved Used by Permission

Reprinted by Permission of Hal Leonard Corporation

ASK

Words and Music by STEVEN MORRISSEY and JOHNNY MARR

© 1986 ARTEMIS MUZIEKUITGEVERIJ B.V. and UNIVERSAL MUSIC PUBLISHING LIMITED (GB)

All Rights in the U.S. and Canada for ARTEMIS MUZIEKUITGEVERIJ B.V.

Administered by WARNER-TAMERLANE PUBLISHING CORP.

All Rights Reserved

Used by Permission of ALFRED MUSIC PUBLISHING

A SATISFIED MIND

Words and Music by Joe “Red” Hayes and Jack Rhodes

Copyright (c) 1955 by Fort Knox Music Inc. and Bug Music-Trio Music Company in the United States Copyright Renewed

All Rights outside the United States Controlled by Starday Music and Administered by Peer International Corporation

International Copyright Secured All Rights Reserved Used by Permission

Reprinted by Permission of Hal Leonard Corporation

PR0233326

A SATISFIED MIND

Written by Jack Rhodes and Joe “Red” Hayes

Used by permission of Fort Knox Music, Inc.

[and additional publishing information supplied by co-publisher(s)]

PICTURES OF YOU

Words and Music by Robert Smith, Laurence Tolhurst, Simon Gallup, Paul S. Thompson, Boris Williams and Roger O’Donnell

Copyright (c) 1989 by Fiction Songs Ltd.

All Rights Administered by Universal Music - MGB Songs International Copyright Secured All Rights Reserved
Reprinted by Permission of Hal Leonard Corporation

SWEET THING

Words and Music by VAN MORRISON

© 1968 (Renewed) WB MUSIC CORP. and CALEDONIA SOUL MUSIC

All rights administered by WB MUSIC CORP.

All Rights Reserved

Used by Permission of ALFRED MUSIC PUBLISHING

GLORIA

Words and Music by VAN MORRISON

© 1965 (Renewed) UNICHAPPELL MUSIC INC. and BERNICE MUSIC INC.

All Rights Administered by UNICHAPPELL MUSIC INC.

All Rights Reserved

Used by Permission of ALFRED MUSIC PUBLISHING

GIRL FROM NORTH COUNTRY

Words and Music by Bob Dylan

Copyright © 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.; Renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music

All Rights Administered by Special Rider Music

Used by Permission of Special Rider Music

Prologue

 

Airports are the great human distribution factories and people-watching here can provide a writer with infinite possibilities. Every second there is a new, brief snapshot of humanity; it’s an endless stream of fodder. In fact, next to me in the security line at this very moment there is a Tibetan monk, standing perfectly still and wearing his patience like a mask; a mother discretely nursing her baby; and a Marine, looking sharp and prideful in his best dress blues. I wonder where they are headed today and for the rest of their lives. I wonder if I can discover something unique and worth writing about by simply observing them in line. As I watch, I think about the imagery I will create, the picture I want to paint. I imagine colorful words dancing across the page. My hand twitches from the desire to jot down the details pooling in my head.

“Do you need a hand?”

I’m jolted out of my trance and realize my kids are bouncing around, the security agent is barking, I’m holding up the line, and we’re all still wearing our shoes.
Shit
.

The face belonging to that voice looks to be that of a woman in her mid-twenties; her long dark hair is pulled back into a flawless ponytail. She’s dressed in what I would call monochromatic collegiate wear; basically she looks like a Gap ad, and she’s holding a little gray bin with her shoes and belongings nestled perfectly inside it. The dark eyebrows that frame her big, round, hazel eyes are arched, waiting for my response.

“Yes! Please! Will you grab his shoes?” I point to my three-year-old son. “Would you mind carrying him up there for me?”

“No problem.”

On the other side of the metal detectors I study the girl while we put shoes on the boys.

“What’s your name, kid?” She has a fairy-like voice, but her choice of words is anything but.

“Cash.”

“Cool name,” she says and appears to truly mean it. “I’m Mia—nice to meet you.”

“I’m Hayden!” Shouted my four-year-old.

“I like your name, too.”

I stand up and introduce myself. “Hi, Mia, I’m Lauren. Thanks for your help—motherhood is crazy.”

I inspect her appearance and feel unusually drawn to her. She’s thin, fit, her skin vibrant and her face calm. I see something in her that resembles the me of ten years ago. She’s so put-together, just like I was at that age; it’s those few years right before the real world gives you a swift kick in the ass. I thought about cutting my head open and spilling the contents into hers so that she could skip over the impending crap I knew she would soon face. The problem with that idea is that wisdom is not the same as information; it’s something entirely different. It’s often mistaken for good advice, but wisdom cannot be imparted to someone. Wisdom can only be earned; it’s a by-product of experience, not necessarily knowledge, otherwise I would be stalking Oprah right now, begging for a transfusion.

Maybe your early twenties were about wearing Daisy Dukes, withdrawing from a zillion college courses, changing your major five times, one-night stands, alcohol poisoning, having sex with your neighbor while his girlfriend watched, dating a distant cousin, cocaine, bad credit, or bad eye shadow; either way, by twenty-five most of us started thinking about other things. The big questions… what do you want to do with the rest of your life? Who will you marry if you marry at all? What career will you choose? Do you want children? It seemed like everything I knew at twenty-five morphed into everything I didn’t know by twenty-six, when I was suddenly hit with the realization that many of the decisions we make in our twenties… are permanent.

Those decisions seem easy for some, and sure, you could say those people are just the shallow puddles we trudge through, but I would argue that those people are lucky, because right now as I watch this girl, the past me, looking serenely self-possessed, I know that she is standing on a great precipice. I can tell by looking at her that she is the still water you only ever skip rocks over. The world as she knows it is about to be turned upside down and if she doesn’t learn to swim, her own depth will drown her. I feel a strong desire to whisper “surrender,” but I don’t. Like everyone in this airport, she is headed somewhere, possibly the first stop on that brutal journey of self-discovery. Like the rest of us, she will have to learn the hard way that we are not always in control. Sometimes it takes the love of others to show us who we really are.

Navigating an airport with two small children is no easy task and before I get on that plane, I’ll wonder if I packed enough snacks, if the DVD player is charged enough, or if I’ll have enough energy to rock my thirty-pound toddler in the space between the smelly lavatory and flight attendants’ station. As I chase my kids around, trying to squeeze Benadryl into their tiny mouths, I wonder if the decisions I made in my twenties were right for me. Will my marriage endure the test of time? Am I a good mother, wife, writer, neighbor, dog owner? Then I remember the journey that brought me to those decisions and that memory gives me great solace, because the memory is a reminder of who I am among all the chaos that is life.

Before I head to my gate, I look over at Mia and wonder what she thinks of me, all frazzled and disheveled with food stains on my clothes. I wonder if she knows that sometimes we figure things out and then life changes and we have to figure it all out again. I’m sure she’ll learn that soon enough and I’m sure she’ll have her own story to tell…

Track 1: Fledglings

 

The airport security agent was losing his patience. “Ma’am, I said you need to remove your shoes and place them into the bins.” She wasn’t intentionally ignoring him; she was preoccupied, well, more like staring into space. If we were graded on how efficiently we removed our belongings to place in those little gray bins, I would have gotten an A plus. The woman in front of me, however, was failing miserably. Her two children were running around, screaming like banshees, while she appeared to be… daydreaming.

I tapped her shoulder lightly but she didn’t respond. Finally, I cleared my throat and said, “Do you need a hand?” I figured I might as well since I wouldn’t be going anywhere until she did.

She mouthed the word “shit,” then said, “Yes! Please! Will you grab his shoes?” She pointed to a little blond, blue-eyed cherub. “Would you mind carrying him up there for me?”

“No problem.”

I walked up to the little boy, who immediately quieted. I gave him a big smile, then yanked his shoes off and threw them into the bin moving swiftly down the conveyer belt. “Ready, kid?” He nodded and I picked him up and carried him toward the metal detector. The warmth of his little arms around my neck radiated through me. I smiled at him, crossed my eyes, and made a silly face. His giggle sounded like music. I pried his clinging legs and arms from around me to set him down.

We ushered the little boys through the metal detector and then proceeded to collect our things on the other side. I followed her over to the benches to help put shoes back on the boys. “What’s your name, kid?”

“Cash,” he said shyly in his small, squishy voice.

“Cool name.” In fact, it was my favorite. “I’m Mia, nice to meet you.”

“I’m Hayden!” shouted his dark-haired brother. They were almost identical in height, but Hayden had dark hair and dark eyes.

“I like your name too,” I said smiling.

His mom stood up and introduced herself. “Hi, Mia, I’m Lauren. Thanks for your help. Motherhood is crazy.” She let out a long breath.

I noticed that we resembled each other: same straight, dark hair, fair skin, and hazel eyes. It was eerie. She could have been my sister… or maybe she was me in ten years? There was something different about her, though—her eyes were sunken and hollow; she looked exhausted. In that moment I wondered if I would ever be a mother or if I even wanted to be. I thought maybe if I found the perfect husband—stable, wealthy, business-minded—it could be a possibility, but definitely not in the near future. I decided if I did have children, I would surely have my shit straighter than this lady.

For being all of twenty-five, I was admittedly a bit of a control freak. I actually used to embrace that facet of my personality. I thought being an independent woman who was in control and made decisions with her head and not her heart was evolved. Making the right choices equaled guaranteed success in my mind. Of course, I didn’t know then that my definition of success would change so drastically.

My eyes scrolled down the monitor, searching for flight twenty-five, DTW to JFK. Failing to remember what gate the clerk had mentioned, I cursed myself. I was nothing if not punctual. Okay, 35B. I walked briskly, passing Lauren and her two kids as she chased them around outside the duty-free. Flying must suck for her. I hoped we weren’t on the same flight and then I immediately felt guilty for the thought. I decided I’d offer to help if she ended up on my flight, seated anywhere near me, but I’d much rather sleep.

I love flying. It’s an escape for me. There is nowhere to be; it’s surrendering to fate. Fate was always such hard concept for me to understand, but I bought into it when necessary, like on a plane or the subway. When I fly, I allow myself to believe in fate simply because it is too tedious to worry about whether or not the pilot is pouring whiskey in his coffee. I let everything go when I fly, just like when I play the piano. It’s the closest I get to religion; it’s the closest I get to faith.

I had no one to answer to for a couple of hours and I was looking forward to it. I promised myself I wouldn’t think about anything. I wouldn’t worry about what I would do with my father’s apartment, his belongings, the café, pretty much everything that was my father’s in New York. I would just get out there and continue living his life until I could figure out what to do with my own.

When my father had passed away a month before, I was devastated. Although I grew up in Ann Arbor, essentially raised by my mother, Liz, and stepfather, David, whom I referred to as Dad, I was still very close to my biological father. I spent summers in New York, helping out with his café, hanging with the then-bizarre East Village crowd. My father was the only child of Irish immigrants. His parents had given him every last penny to open “Ave. A Café” in the East Village in 1977, later to be renamed Kelly’s Café in ‘82 and then finally in ‘89 renamed again to just simply Kell’s. In the 70’s it would be the ultimate hangout for any troubadour and trobairitz alike. It was and remains a place with a liberal and artistic vibe, something my father exuded directly from his pores. It would be bittersweet to be back there.

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