to S.B. on her birthday

We were five weeks into it. My trips on weekends to visit.

S.B. was living on Stieber Street. Doing her best. Trying to teach art to kids that didn’t get regular meals, words of encouragement, or hugs.

She was raising a two-year-old. By herself. In a neighborhood that was just a step above questionable. The lady across the street thought S.B. was rich.

Because she was a teacher.

Because she was able to put her son into daycare from 7:30 to 3:00, while she worked.

The lady came over on a regular basis to ask for money.  

For food.

For formula.

For tampons.

It was hard for S.B. to say NO because she has seen many things. Because she is sweet-hearted.

But her experience has given her a good, solid, fool-proof, bullshit detector.

I know, because she uses it on me.

But that is neither here nor there.

This is about the time we were sitting at the kitchen table that eventually became our dining room table, our living room table, the family table. The one with the small, round, wooden top, and black wrought iron legs.  

We were drinking wine, listening to Rage Against the Machine, Tool, Pearl Jam, and Dave Matthews Band.

And we were playing Rummikub.

She was vibrant as ever.

Black tank top.

Grey yoga pants.

Smelling like vanilla and rain.

She amazed me.

Raising a kid, working her ass off, doing all of it on her own, and then welcoming me, a stranger for the most part, to live with her and her baby two days at a time.  

A chubby guy with good intentions. On her doorstep every Friday night, after a 239-mile drive.

Time and distance have moved us here.

Life on the 45th parallel, just a few blocks from Lake Huron, in the place we will always call home.    

It’ll be a dozen years come August, and to me, there’s no end in sight.

I believe that all we’ll ever do is start all over again.

Because of that one night.

Drinking Yellow Tail.

Listening to Crash by Dave Matthews Band.


Playing Rummikub.

I’d just ended my turn. Looked up.


And for whatever reason, she leaned over the table and kissed me.

I don’t think she knows it, but that’s what pulled me in.

A simple, single moment that connected me

to everything.

~ KJ

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