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1. Okra

When I think of how life used to be, the okra summer comes to mind. There was a big crop the year I turned three and a bumper crop of new rules to learn, as there is with every year of growing.

Even though I know nothing that shade of green can taste remotely pleasant, I was not allowed to say so.  Even though I didn't eat hairy food or green food or slimy food, and even though okra fit all three of those categories, I had to eat it or no one could have ice cream after dinner. Despite the fact that your stomach refused to keep it where I put it, I got in trouble when it came back up. The big brothers got in bigger trouble for laughing. Despite that fact that it wasn't personal, the new Mommy took it personally when used okra landed in her lap.

There's a vertical line between innocence and guilt. We didn't mean to make a joke of her, but the okra incident crossed some internal line I was too young to fathom. She was gone before the garden finished with okra. Eating lots of okra didn't bring her back.

2. Postcards

When I think of how things used to be, the postcard summer comes to mind. Images of almond-eyed women in pointy straw hats on one side, notes carefully printed on the back. Messages mailed home from the war,  crafted by the big brothers for a little sister just learning to read.

Everyone's big brothers went to the war, just like everyone's Daddy went to work, just like big girls had to go to school.  I never doubted they'd be back, held to an innocent faith that bad things couldn't happen to the "good guys".

The line between asleep and awake used to be as simple as eyes open or shut. The postcard summer taught me there's a limbo between asleep and awake, a place where you can get stuck in a nightmare that hangs on even when you're awake. Some big brothers don't come back from war, and some look like they did, but they're still stuck in the nightmare.

3. Bras

When I think of how things used to be, the new bra summer comes to mind.

Rain-soaked kisses, a flock of butterflies in my stomach, and a boy's voice in my ear, "Hurry, quick before the others find us."

Running through the woods, holding hands, tasting the forbidden. The way his eyes lingered where nipples tented my wet t-shirt, the warmth of his mouth over mine.

A too-small white bra showed up in my dresser drawer that summer, without discussion, warning, or instruction. Squeezing into my first bra, I realized nature had pushed me across a line I didn't know was out there.

New rules come with new breasts, new lines that can't be crossed. Lines that fathers don't discuss with daughters. Emotional land mines exploded with every misstep.

4. Hunger

When I think of how life used to be, the insatiable summer comes to mind.

Love-starved newlyweds. Love before we ate. Love during. Love after. We couldn't get close enough, touch enough, be naked enough for each other. Learning each other was a three course meal -- foreplay the appetizer, sex the main course. Dessert was a savoring, time to talk away the hours between one meal and the next, share dark secrets and bold dreams. We didn't know an infinitely insatiable appetite might prove to be an impossible dream.

I've heard people say there's a thin line between love and hate. Across the years of a marriage that line grows parallels in 265 shades of gray, nuances spouses use to leverage power, measure out love. You never know how many thin lines and shades of meaning will populate the distance between the two extremes one day to the next, one moment to the next.

5. Lines

One day, when I think of how this summer used to be,  broken lines will come to mind. String between stakes in a barren garden. Lines of drought cracked earth. Chipped paint lines on broken pavement. The line connecting me to my father broken by death.

You have a start line and a finish line. Incremental time lines between them mark off your life in sections -- separating one story from the next. There's not always a remedy for missteps, muddled choices, mangled episodes. There are always two sides to every line, a crossing from imperfect finish to promising start.

This post was written in response to the Carry on Tuesday prompt. This week our prompt is the opening line of the song Blessed written by Travon Potts and Brock Walsh: When I think how life used to be. I also included the three words from the Three Word Wednesday prompt: joke, leverage, remedy. Follow the links to see what other participants wrote.
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  1. I absolutely love the way you write. This was such an engaging piece, sensuous and filled with wonderful detail and memories. Thanks for the contribution.

  2. This was so fascinating. A poetic timeline in the evolution of your life.

  3. This was cleverly written, and ended with a great thought.

  4. These were a delight -- you are an excellent wordsmith. Each vignette contained meaty nuggets of wisdom, each fathoms deep.

  5. As usual, very touching, and very deep. You have a wonderful way of saying a lot in a very few words.

  6. Such a nice peek into your life...and the concluding similie to the "start and finishing line"..its amazing!Fell head over heals at the idea of "a crossing from imperfect finish to promising start"...wonderful. You definitely have a way with words coupled with thoughts!

  7. Wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing and for visiting my blog. Have a great day/night.

  8. A beautiful, lyrical sensuality in your words! Each vignette is like a cameo snapshot of a critical, telling moment. Interesting that these were slivers from summer days, the season of heat and passion!

  9. This is so lovely, each little vignette like a poem or a love letter to the past.

  10. your write is just flowing so well, and written with such emotion too.. :) loved it..!

  11. Nara Malone...?
    Some of us LOVE writing,
    Some of us are Hacks.
    You My Dear are genius.
    You have what most of us lack!!!

    Fantastic piece of writing....G

  12. this was such a beautiful fluid piece. spoke to me on many levels. Vivid and engaging. I love the way you weave details with memories, and dreams.

  13. Holy Crap. Don't know whether to pick up my jaw or wipe my nose. I want to read it again and then hug it.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts.