Thursday, January 31, 2019

Healing sands...

I’m lying in bed, sweat pouring from my face. My stomach is at peace for the moment but I know that it will become restless once again and I will be perched over the toilet puking my guts out.

Two days ago, I drove seven hours from the north to get here to Swakopmund on the Namibian coast. I’ve been sick ever since.

This is my first trip to Africa.

This is my first trip alone.

Everything up until now has gone incredibly well.

I have been on an adventure beyond any stretch of my imagination or expectations.

I keep reminding myself of this as I continue to throw up.

I have only allowed myself three days in Swakopmund.

I have come to visit the giant sand dunes of the oldest desert in the world.

This is day two and at this rate my chances are looking pretty slim.

The chills and churning in my stomach consume me once again.

I am dehydrated, weak and dizzy.

I want to go home.

I have been gone a long time.

I want to cry.

I want a hug.

I want someone to fuss over me.

I feel like shit!

Maybe It’s stupidity.

Maybe I’m delirious.

Probably it’s just that I’m that stubborn, but no matter how bad I feel or how much I want to leave, I have to see the dunes.

I’ve come to far. I’m too close now.

I’ve figured out that I have about thirty minutes after throwing up, before the churning in my stomach will begin again, I timed it.

I’ll be ready next time.

Soon my head is once again dangling over the toilet bowl.

I walk zombie like out of the bathroom and fall on the bed.

Eventually I am able to inch my body to where I can reach the phone.

With a shaky voice and trembling hands, I call the front desk and arrange for a guide to take me out to the desert tomorrow afternoon.

I awake the next day blurry and groggy staring at the ceiling.

Okay, how bad do I feel? I wait.

Twenty minutes.

Half an hour.

Should I move?

Twenty more minutes go by.

My stomach, although sore, seems to be more stable for the moment.

I take a giant leap of faith and sit up.

Fifteen minutes go by and no urge to “up-chuck”.

My legs hang rubbery and limp over the side of the bed.

I keep telling myself what will forever become my travel mantra, “baby steps”.

Eventually I am actually standing.

Swaying back and forth, I try to decide whether or not to take a step as I wait for the nausea to hit once again…it doesn’t.

I am excited at this revelation; too bad my body isn’t in-sync.

I try so hard to stand up that I twist myself into a knot and fall flat on my face.

My mind is willing, my body isn’t the least bit interested.

Slowly I make my way to the bathroom. Everything is spinning and very bright.

I have six hours to get ready. I will need them all.

I don’t really remember much over the next few hours.

I know I have been moving very slowly and, on several occasions, have found myself just standing in one spot not really sure why or for how long.

Somehow, I have managed to get dressed. I have a vague sense that I must have combed my hair and brushed my teeth at some point.

The phone rings. The time has come to summon forth all that is within me and make my way down the three flights of stairs to the lobby to meet my guide.

I hope I don’t have my clothes on inside out, “baby steps”.

I make it to the lobby.

A tall blond man in the cliché khaki shirt and shorts along with brown hiking boots that all guides in Africa seem to wear greets me with a thick South African accent and broad smile, which disappears upon his closer scrutiny.

Do I look that bad?

Just as quickly he announces, ”we are off to the dunes”!

We are riding in what must be the first Land Rover ever built, it has nothing even resembling shock absorbers.

I can feel even the tiniest pebble in the road.

A kind of Princess and the Pea goes mobile.

Every once in a while, the guide says something and then looks at me with a smile awaiting a reply.

I hope he won’t be too offended if I throw up on him.

After several hours, we turn off the main road and are surrounded by the desert.

Here in the midst of its vastness, I have totally forgotten about my stomach.

It is mid afternoon and the sun is shifting, the dunes sparkle and the breeze blows the sand which hovers just above the surface.

The Rover stops and we get out.

I don’t know how long we have walked or how far.

I have all the energy in the world right now.

It’s like there is a healing force emanating from the ancient sands below my feet radiating into my soul.

The desert transfixes me.

I stand and stare in amazement at its beauty.

It is so tranquil and peaceful here.

I feel so small and humble.

It is time to head back to the hotel.

The sun is slowly sinking and as I watch, the horizon is transformed into liquid fire dancing on the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

It is an incredible sight.

I climb the stairs to my little room on the third floor.

I look around the place where only hours before I was sick and weak, and I feel more alive than I ever have before.

Friday, January 4, 2019

In Paris...

He was always there.

From morning to late afternoon.

I don't have any idea where he got the money to buy the bread he'd feed them.

I don't know where he slept or if he had food to eat for himself.

He'd sit on one of the benches in front of the cathedral rain or shine.

"They are my family", he told me once.

They would flock to him one at a time as soon as he sat down.

They had a bond.

An exchange of trust.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Disappearing act...

My niece has Anorexia, this is for her and the millions of others who struggle...

September 4th

“The more weight I lose, the less of me there will be. Maybe before too long I won’t be here at all”

September 7th

“My heart beats so fast sometimes. I think the faster it beats the more calories I burn. It scares me a little though. It’s getting so it happens a lot now. There are times when it feels like it will pound its way right out of my chest."

 "I wonder how much a heart weighs.”

September 10th

“This past year my mom’s gotten so old looking. She has these big black circles under her eyes. It looks like she’s been in a fight.”

September 13th

“Sometimes it feels like my bones are rubbing together, but that’s impossible, right?”

September 16th

“When I weigh myself, I stand really still or the needle on the scale might move and I might weigh a little more. When I step up on the scale I pretend that I am a ballerina. The softer I step on the scale the lighter I am."

"My mom keeps hiding the scale. Why does she hate me?”

September 19th

“I don’t really get hunger anymore. Sometimes when I drink water to take the laxatives, I feel so full I think I’ll explode! I’ve tried taking them without water but I start to gag. No sense throwing up perfectly good laxatives, so for now I just drink the water.”

September 21rd

“Today the doctor. said if I don’t get my heart rate stable I could have a heart attack. I know he’s just trying to scare me. I mean who ever heard of a 15-year-old having a heart attack?”

September 24th

“Yesterday mom came into the bathroom while I was changing my clothes. She stood there staring at me and I kept screaming for her to get out.”

 “She said my skin looked transparent then started to cry. God! Why can’t she just mind her own business? It’s my body!”

September 27th…

“If I stopped doing this, what would I do with my life? This is my life.”

September 28th 8:12 am…

“My girlfriend says I have a perception problem that I don’t realize I’m beginning to look like a skeleton. She’s so jealous.”

September 28th 3:42pm…

“I wonder how much I weigh right now?”

September 29th…

“If I stopped doing this, what would I do with my life? This is my life.”

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Silent vigil...

There are people running through the streets above us.

There is nowhere to run but it doesn't seem to matter.

I was running and fell through this door way. I barely escaped being trampled.

I can make out shapes in the darkness.

I think there are seven of us down here.

It's hard to know for sure.

Fear and hunger have driven some of the others into the damp corners where the light falls off
suddenly and all that's left is the stench.

We are all just waiting.

My hair keeps sticking to the concrete wall I'm leaning against.

I'm not sure but I think it's sticky from the blood.

Every time I move my head a few more strands are pulled out adding to the growing number left on the wall behind me.

Most of us have gathered in a space away from the door, more toward the center of the room.

The corners are too dangerous.

The young man with the glasses was curled up in one of the corners when he was attacked by a rat trying to gnaw through the blood soaked towel around his leg.

I think we may be in the basement of an old grocery store.

We found some boxes of stale crackers but they were gone after the first few days.

There are some tin cans of something but the ends are bulging and there's nothing to open them with anyway.

The water ran out yesterday.

There is an old couple sitting across from me.

The woman couldn't stop crying, she just sobbed and clutched a photograph to her chest.

Her husband said it was a picture of their son.

He tried to comfort his wife but after two days, he stopped.

After that she cried all the harder.

Yesterday she stopped crying. She's been silent ever since.

The blond girl at the end of room talked to me for the first couple of days.

Now she just sits in silence like most of the others.

Today I tried to talk to any of them but there was no response.

None of them will answer me.

My brain feels sluggish and I just want to sleep.

I don't feel the hunger anymore but I'm very thirsty.

I mention this to the old couple across the room but there is no reply.

I have begun to crave the sound of another human voice more than that of water to quench my thirst.

If someone doesn't speak to me soon , I'm sure I will go mad.

My eyes feel heavy.

Maybe it would be alright to sleep for just a little while.

When I wake up maybe someone will talk to me.

I'm sure one of them will have something to say soon...

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


She crawled under the blankets with the flashlight.

In this tent of far off adventures, she would wander the entire world, slay dragons and waltz among the stars.

She would be lost for hours in a world of books.

And when her mother found her still awake, the flashlight would be confiscated but the adventures would remain.

Friday, August 10, 2018

eye contact...

If you ever have the chance to look into the eyes of a stranger whose face reads like a great novel, do not pass it up.

The stories you discover there may just change your life.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Grandpa's watch...

It had belonged to his father and it was one of the only things he'd brought to this country with him.

He would sit in front of the television set at night watching the boxing matches.

Every once in a while he'd throw a punch in the air in solidarity.

We'd be in the doorway watching, giggling.

He made wine in the basement.

You could smell the grapes fermenting when you went to get the laundry.

He always wore suspenders and flannel shirts, even in the summer.

He'd wait until he thought no one was looking before giving the dog a piece of whatever he was eating.

Then he'd pet her until someone happened to glace over in which case he'd push the dog away as if she was bothering him.

He did the same with me when I was little but I knew it was all for show.

He was afraid of looking weak, looking too nice.

He spent many years in a nursing home unaware of his surrounding's or the people who visited.

It broke my heart.

The watch sat on the bedside table along with a photograph of his wife until the day he passed away.