Archives for posts with tag: future

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This painting has little to do with what I’m about to write it is simply one of my favorites

The house is the same as many would imagine a Midwest farm house to be, with it’s wrap around porch, shutters and standard off white paint. A wooden screen door gently taps frame in rhythm with the breeze. The two stories give a deceiving appearance that the structure may contain more than two bedrooms but in fact it does not. Roof covered in gray shingles, sloped to a pitch designed with the idea of discouraging snow from accumulating, gaining weight and collapsing inward, protects the inside from nature. Traditional style curtains can clearly be seen through windows on both floors, indicating the proprietors understanding of roots and willingness to stay with what works.

Infront of the house a large split pasture is seperated from gravel drive and small front yard by white wooden fence. The fence has a stoutness suggesting it is not merely a cosmetic structure but one of function as well. Grass in the yard is clipped much closer to ground than that of the pastures. Amongst this manicured lawn is a lone tree, the sort that stands tall and twisted informing anyone who looks upon it, that it has stood through many seasons and generations in this very spot. A rope plank swing hangs from one of the larger branches, the platforms worn wooden bench, displays years of fun and joy. Off behind the house in a somewhat typical fashion is a red barn, trimmed in the same white as the place of residence. Connected off the right hand side is another pasture, where seven horses can be seen grazing. The enclosing allows animals to freely enter their stalls for water or rest from weather at will. On closer examination large sliding doors can be seen, they can be closed at night containing the beautiful horses safely in thier respective stalls.

Upon entering the home the scent of linseed oil, varnish, and various other smells of oil painting fills the air. These aromas are often accompanied by gentle music softly playing in the background or the clear melody of someone playing live accusticly. Wooden floor, showing care taken to preserve, yet the undeniable pattern that years of those who live here coming and going, leads to a staircase. From staircases bottom both kitchen and family room can be viewed depending on which direction one is looking. An open family room with sofa, end tables holding matching lamps, two chairs and a long wooden record player stereo are the main furnishings, besides a desk in one corner. The desk has feathers, furs, a vise and other items used for the tying of flies, intended to at some later date entice a trout to rise. Beside it is an easel with a painting in progress tenderly perched upon the stained wood, which clearly shows its use. A television is the only furnishing which seems out of place hanging on the far wall in a position guaranteeing that in order to be viewed the chairs must be repositioned. Of course on nights when hockey is being played they are infact turned to face the lone modern device in the room.

Breathing deeply I take in all that is the home of my childhood and all besides nine months of my years on this Earth. Tomorrow evening I will walk from what is now Brooke’s bedroom down these stairs and out the door. Mom will hug me tightly on the porch, we all spend so much time on. She will hand me some extra cash whispering to not tell my father. Brooke will be waiting in the back seat when I climb into the front one next to Dad. I will turn to talk to Brooke as we pull away, in order to see the place I call home and mostly to watch Mom standing on the wooden porch. In a few hours drive time my things will for the second time be carried into a dorm room by my father. He will hand me some cash instructing me not to tell Mom. Brooke and I will hug and kiss goodbye, without words spoken between us. As Dad and Brookelyn get into vehicle I will say mostly to keep myself from crying, “I’ll be home for Thanksgiving!”

-Brooke’s Sister

I felt compelled to add that I am excited about going back to school! I’m also grateful to be going back early, because my early return means I have kept my athletics scholarship and will be returning for the sport, long before classes begin. Yet, it’s all quite bittersweet.

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Legs tired from running up and down the field, where practice has just concluded, slightly shaking do their best to hold my tired frame beneath showers spray. Flip-flops protect my feet from the sorts of elements that live on the white tile floors of locker rooms. The water stings slightly mellowing the tension of overworked muscles. While the absence of ever present chatter of teammates insures that practice has drained even the strength to speak from all present. My mind ponders why this was all I wanted during High School, this chance to be a member of the University women’s lacrosse team. I can only ponder for a moment, I simply lack the energy thought requires.

Slightly recovered by the shower, as if exhaustion washed down the drain with the bits of grass that had clung to my legs. I dress in a white shirt, recalling how proud I’d been when the coaches had issued the shirt with our schools blue simple yet unmistakeable logo on the chest. In appreciation index finger traces the raised letters bellow the emblem, spelling out WLAX. Pride replaces weariness as I spot my roommate, who appears as worn out as myself from the days conditioning. The familiar two words that are known across the country as our schools motto echo off the navy and white walls, breaking the silence. My shout is answered back from dorm mate and teammates alike, as per school tradition. It feels good, hearing upperclassman respond to my voice reassuring that I truly belong.

My new best friend, teammate and dorm mate walks out of the University athletics complex slightly ahead of me. Tapping shoulder of solid muscle going past her, I challenge, “race you to the room!”

Balls of my feet pushing off familiar pavement, breeze in face, I find full stride. It feels good reaching goals, accomplishing dreams and of course as always running. Imagination turns the concrete to the gravel drive of home, crunching with each touch of foot. This burst of energy is more than simple achievements or love of life, it’s the knowledge that in the dorm an email from Brooke waits for me. Without fail there is a message every evening, telling me of all the events of my sister’s day. On this day I can’t wait to tell her my feelings, to share the realization of my success. Also, I need to thank her for all the support and always showing me what it’s like to be a champion.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Tender notes fill the room. My mind wonders to distant lands, New Orleans or a bay out west. Places romanticized by novels read, travelers from times long past and of course film. The melody of the record spinning on the turntable which is housed in stereo that speaks of another time, holds me to reality. We could own the finest Bose stereo and the records of our grandparents would still be played on this one that is more furniture than electronics equipment. Brooke insists that music is best when in its intended form, a true record. She of course has an iPod and downloads music of many styles and eras. However, Brookelyn’s favorites are on vinyl.

My eyes open slowly at the gentle touch of sister’s finger to my lips. Looking up from the sofa into Brooke’s pretty face, I offer a smile, to ensure that as always her unusual methods of gaining my attention are appreciated. She quickly signs that she would like my help this morning with the duties in the barn and caring for the horses. Knowing it has little to do with the work that she enjoys but instead is an opportunity she has chosen to spend with me I quickly agree.

Stepping into the cool shadows of the barn behind our home I’m saddened remembering that at Brooke’s age I fought with our parents about doing these tasks, which sister does without so much as a request. To escape self-ridicule I talk to Brooke about traveling, the wonders that foreign places must surely hold. Shovels scrape concrete floors clean with metallic sound, followed by the spray of water that completely clears the stall floors. The whole time I talk of piers, ships sailing far away and adventures neither sister have known. Brookelyn listens acknowledging my words with smiles and at times nods of head. She works slower than normal, allowing me to handle my share of the duties that have long fallen on her precious shoulders.

The bay which Brooke most rides tries to be near her, nosing her hair that hangs bellow the bowler covering her head. Like everyone who knows Brookelyn, Shane does his best to be as close to her as possible. She meets his gesture of love with a gentle blow of breath from between soft lips into his face, then pats the horse who persists on. Once Shane’s area is cleaned Brooke hops over the railing, he turns and exits to the open arena outside his stall. Failing to occupy his loves attention, he has retreated to his peers company, to recoup for another attempt in the future. Feed laid out, barn clean and tended we exit into the sunshine, my eyes taking a moment to adjust to the worlds brightness.

“Brooke, where do you most want to go?” I ask drifting back to dreams of ports, bridges and romantic locations.

Bright eyes meet mine as, “into the house to get a drink, then back out to saddle Shane and go for a ride. Want to come?” is signed in response.

Sitting in familiar saddle, I watch Shane give a slight snort in approval as Brooke mounts. My little sister in perfect riding posture leads the way out of the barn across sunny pasture, opening the bays gate into a slight gallop. Oceans, adventures and travels are forgotten, my heels gesture the horse beneath me to do his best to catch that which at the moment Shane has achieved, Brooke’s attention and favor.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Standing in cap gown on the green grass that my feet have covered during so many practices and lacrosse games, it doesn’t feel real. High School is over, I’ve been accepted at State and should be excited. Yet a melancholy his filled my body all day. My friends are triumphant, they should be, we made it. The accumulation of four years of last minute studying, homework frantically completed before class and of course so much more, is behind us. The laughs, tears, first loves, heartbreaks, close calls and all that we believe to be the biggest moments of our lives. Some of what we’ve done may impact us forever, most was just inflated by our importance of self. None of this accounts for my mood.

Caps fly hi to cheers and youthful whoops. The one that had been pinned to my hair by my mother is of course among them. I have the diploma in leather binder tucked beneath my arm, hugs and congratulations for the scholarship that was announced naming me as recipient are given. My father is taking pictures of me and my friends. My smile is huge, a mask of the true somber tones of this occasion.

One figure in a white dress covered in yellow daisies, symbolic of the purity of the girl wearing it, sits in the now vacated bleachers alone. A setting sun casts a glow around her, fitting her angelic beauty. I quickly try to imagine her in a year sitting there with friends cheering on the football team. Or in five standing on the field in a gown much like the one I am covered in. As I get closer I see she has a sketch book in her hands. I ask if I can see what she is drawing to which I simply get a gesture of no. The sketches are too preliminary to share, they are just for reference, the painting will be given to me on her only visit to see me during my freshman year.

Embracing Brooke my tears that fall down onto her back are matched by her own dampening my shoulder. This is not only a day of recognized accomplishment but a day marking childhood being left behind. She is happy for me in regards to that which I’ve completed but we know in a few short months the room we have always shared will only house one.

As my first summer home from college draws shorter, I’m reminded of graduating and again slightly feeling a familiar meloncholy. I asked Brooke today if she was excited for her freshman year of High School. Dreamy eyes looked at me as she signed, “not really, it means your going away again.”

-Brooke’s Sister

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Individual blades of grass sway in the breeze, turning the pasture behind our home into a sea. Brookelyn leads us away from the house, her pink kite trailing behind her. Since I can remember she has had an attraction to flight, or to things with a line. Of course, I too enjoy the brightly colored flying machines that Dad helped us build and Mom assisted us in decorating but Brooke loves them. She thinks they are magical, whereas I tend to take them for granted.

At the time I had no idea how special the home of my youth was. The small two story house much the same as all of our neighbors, with two bedrooms, a kitchen with attached dining space, a family room and not much more in structure. Where the rarity lies is in the hearts of the people who raised us girls in a way that time has left long ago. The more people I in counter in life, the clearer it is that things were unusual to say the least. From the origami toys we made, marbles we pitched, balls bounced in effort to capture jacks, strings pulled to send tops that were hand carved by father spinning across hard wood floors, and of course the homemade kites, our childhood toys were from generations passed.

Our parents could have purchased the newest toys, video games and items we played with when visiting friends if they had wished. Maybe it was influence from our Amish neighbors, or perhaps they wanted us to know an innocence many of our generation has not been granted. Regardless why, there we were making our way through grass kites floating behind us, waiting to be hoisted high into the sky by moving currents of air.

Brooke is the first to get her kite to take full flight and carry up into the heights of sky. Watching the bright pink creation rustle in the breeze, she keeps the line taunt to ensure flight. I watch a while, mostly my sisters smile and eyes before I begin lofting my own. Of course we encounter failures, tangled strings and at times even sorrows as our hours of hard work crash and crumble in the high grass, not on this day however.

We fly our kites without incident until interest fades, leaving us side by side on our backs staring up at moving clouds. Brooke listens as I tell the story the clouds paint, today it’s the typical princess in palace tale. As the story concludes with nights brave rescue, turning to younger sister I ask if she wished we had a video game consoul like our cousins do. Brooke turns to me, nose wrinkled and shakes her head no. Now smiling she signs, “I like building and flying kites and stories of princesses living in the clouds more.”

Now, after a year in a dorm room. Experiences that I never imagined, like traveling with teammates across the country, I understand what our parents gave us in our unusual, by today’s standards, home. In a way it was each other, time dreaming, imagining and playing together. Finishing this post I ask Brooke if she has a kite, and if we are too old to still fly them. Words are quickly scribbled on yellow pad, that is tossed my direction as she bounces up stairs.

“Yes., I made one not that long ago and that’s silly, you can’t get too old to fly kites! We are the perfect age!”

-Brooke’s Sister

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The first snow of winter always brings excitement to my heart. It was no different years ago when with eagerness I’d rise each morning, leaping from my bed to look out the window hoping to see a world covered in white. Of course on many occasions the first falling snow did not come while I slept but instead during the waking hours. This always created a feeling as if cheated, the way one feels when the shell they select is lifted revealing nothing where they are certain a pea should have been. The snow was not better when it fell while I slept, just the rush of finding change added to the possibilities of snowmen, wars raged with the white powder packed into balls and my favorite of all sledding, was beyond perfect.

Watching my breath fog the window from my sister and mines room, looking out at the white field infront of our home, my heart was racing. It had happened while I slept, enough snow had been released from the clouds that rolled in the prior afternoon to leave a glistening pearl view. Joyously shouting in triumph as if the feat was my own, as if Mother Nature had simply done as I’d ordered I crossed the room. Brookelyn sitting on the edge of her bed struggling into the pink snow pants, the ones I’d loved and worn when they were new. For a moment I try to recall, were they a birthday or Christmas gift from Uncle Lars? Leaving thought behind I continue on in an extatic voice, explaining how the snow is surely enough to delay the start of school, or possibly if luck holds cancel it all together.

Hearing my delight from down the hall, mother assures that my dreams are answered. She confirms that at least for the Bayer girls there will be no school on this wondrous Friday. Brooke, in snow pants now is pulling on wool socks, glances up at me with a big grin revealing the tooth she lost several days prior. The smile tells me she has heard and is excited about the news mom has delivered from the kitchen, while the aromas insist she is readying breakfast. Closing my eyes taking in the mixture of frying eggs and bacon, a vision of what she has promised fills my mind. It’s dad in the small barn behind the house, bundled in his hunter green coat, standing over his work bench. Upon the bench is of course the wooden sled, it’s runners turned up cold and hard awaiting the wax he is about to offer them.

Four socked feet race almost silently down the hall, at the stairs mine slow for safety and caution. Those belonging to my sister race past me, like most mornings, gracefully on her toes she barely touches each step until at the bottom, where she slides round a corner on the smooth hardwood floor. I enter the kitchen second as mom turns from the stove beginning to announce the ever so common statement often directed at children in regards to running in the house. The words are stopped before completely out, when her eyes meet her youngest daughters face. Brooke stands beside the chair at the small table in our kitchen that is her usual place, a slight smile on her face. However, it is not the smile that keeps mothers words on her tongue. It’s the one eyebrow raised, causing a slight squint of the other eye, a sign of acknowledgement that our family recognizes on Brookelyn’s face that leads to the silence. It is not that Brooke is allowed to violate rules of order that I am held to. It is something much more complex altogether. My sisters inability to speak, tends to make those who know her well find themselves in her silence. All in the kitchen are aware that there is to be no running in the house, and offending parties have apologized without words being said.

The silence is broken by fathers laughter and the slight creak of the side kitchen door. The announcement of this entrance to our house is not the type that suggest neglect, but rather the sort showing a dad, who does his own repairs, whom also values time with his girls over silent doors. With the three girls of his world all turning their attention toward him, he explains the cause of his chuckle. Brooke and I in our youth do not see humor in his explanation that if not a day promising snow and fun we’d still be upstairs grumbling about the hour. Of course he is correct, we would surely, (especially myself, Brooke is more of a morning person) still be getting ready and not nearly as excited. What we don’t understand however is why this is amusing to him and mother, who has now joined in the laughter. After all why would anyone show the same eagerness to get off to another day of school as a morning spent sledding with one of their heroes?

Bacon, eggs, toast and milk is devoured at a rate which would impress a drill sergeant, for the snow awaits. There is chatter about who will sled first, where the sled should be pulled and ‘what about a snowman?’ Brooke adds in a note slid to my father.

Looking back it now occurs to me, on a day when I would step away from scholastics and never think of writing so much as my name, she was still thinking of spelling and writing. Of course, she was already fluent in signing but preferred to write. Our father once explained that since Brooke was mute but heard perfectly, she never liked using sign language because people tended to sign back. I can’t say with certainty if that is the whole case, but it is possibly one reason why she prefers writing her thoughts.

Completing this post I watch Brooke with her best friend laughing in our living room. The friends laughter fills the room and Brooke in silence as always, joins her. The source of the humor I’m oblivious to, for like all teen girls who have one they are texting on their phones. I’ve heard adults speak negatively about kids and texting but picking up my own phone as I shout, “Brooke, what’s so funny?” I am filled with anticipation awaiting the buzz that will shortly announce the reception of my sister’s response.

Of course I still love the hand written notes, yet text is a wonderful way for Brooke to just be like any other teenager talking to her friends… As for me, if she is in ear shot, I still speak my part of our convos, just in case dad was right and she wants me to hear my voice.

-Brooke’s Sister