Magic.

I fell in love out of college.

It took forever to hold her hand, ’cause I was waiting for the most imperfect moment.

I remember leaving the city and I still held her heart in my hands.

At the time, I wish we could have kept things just the same.

She told me she had dreams. And I did too.

I know we didn’t have to chase our dreams alone.

Because that’s what being together means. Together, that’s right.

Just one kiss would change her mind and stop the world from spinning.

For just a few seconds.

People were standing in line near Times Square just to watch us fall.

For a moment, the fireworks lit up the East River and from here on out it was just you and I.

I pressed my lips to yours and tried a hand at Magic.

Now, it feels like you disappeared. Guess the magic trick worked.

I still think about you. And hope you still think about me too.

Just in case you were wondering.

I remember the morning we said goodbye.

The leaving hit me like the NYC subway system crashing into a brick wall.

I didn’t feel like laughing or crying — just completely numb to the future pain.

It was raining when I touched down at BNA, but not enough rain for us both to jump in.

– 

Tonight, I’m driving home and starting a new life.

I’m going over to my friend’s house for dinner because I hear his wife is a great cook.

It feels nice to finally be home again.

I’m not sure if we shared the blame, but I know my mama is still cheering me on.

Now, that kind of magic is here to stay.

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Hey friend, I’ll see you soon.

Hey loneliness. I’m breaking up with you.

Hey sadness. You don’t belong here anymore.

“Hey boy,” says the girl in Bellevue, “Don’t come back.”

Hey frustration. I’m tired of feeling invisible.

Hey wife. Will you cook me dinner tonight?

Hey rain shower. I need your quenching magic.

Hey sunlight. Will you come out to play today?

Hey confusion. I don’t believe you anymore.

Hey me without you. I feel abandoned. 

“Hey Huzz,” says the wife, “I Luzz you!!”

Hey knight in shining armor. Your armor is never going to get that girl.

Hey glass of whiskey. I’m a little in love.

Hey Neptune. Stop barking so much.

Hello anger. Get the hell outta here.

Hey new Lecrae book. What’s up homie?

Hey lipgloss. I like the way you taste.

“Hey man,” says the bro down the street, “I want to encourage you to start writing again.”

Hey friend in the parking lot. Thanks for waving at me. I miss you. 

Hey tears streaming down your face. It’s okay. I understand, too.

Hey depression. You’re making me tired.

Hey there fear. I’m scared of you.

Hey anxiety. I’m waiting for freedom.

Hey home sweet home. My house is your house too.

Hey you. I love you.

“Hey Sheldon,” “I’m sorry I text you so much.”

Hey forgiveness. I misunderstood you.

Hey sunrise. You’re beautiful.

Hey childhood dreams. Only twenty people showed up to see me.

Hey again childhood dreams. Look up and see the horizon of possibilities.

Hey therapy. I know I’m going to make it.

“Hey Olive,” “Do you think I will hear from him soon?”

Hey salvation. I finally made it to the cross.

Hey Grace in motion. I’m falling to my knees now.

Hey best friend. I’m glad I married you.

Hey ambivalence. I don’t know what I want right now.

Hey midnight. It’s too late for this.

Hey Mama, I will visit you in your graveyard soon.

“Hey Papa!, I miss you.”

Hey Uber driver. Give me your keys.

Hey sparkling water. You’re a drug.

Hey friend, I’ll see you soon.

Saturday Morning

Kathy was three hours away from Nashville and drove in for the weekend to meet me for the first time.  It was the engagement party day. I proposed to Olive the night before. Her white Taurus had a fresh coat of freedom and her heart sizzled with the idea of getting to see her oldest daughter once again. She didn’t know who stole her baby’s heart but she was thrilled as hell to meet him. She prayed her sweet Olive would forgive her for the mistakes she made and remember only the delightful nights filled with the best vanilla ice cream in Buffalo, smushed between two homemade chocolate chip life-sized cookies. When she arrived on 65, she hopped off exit 81 and pulled into the closest parking lot because her GPS battery life died. She called Olive on the phone. I was still at work. Olive hopped in her Scion and sped quickly past the brick houses, the cranes soaring high in the sky, and fellow passerbys. When Olive pulled into the parking lot, intersecting between 8th and Wedgewood, she slammed on the brakes, opened the car door, (with the car still running) and ran into the arms of Her mama. Only, it was too late.

—–

It’s 7:40am on a Saturday.

Olive wakes up from the dream that made her feel like she had on 3D glasses in an IMAX theater. She didn’t want to get up. She was in a daze and looked to her right to see her dark brown husband still sleeping next to her. She wanted it to be real. She wanted to see her mother again — the woman who made Olive find her dreams.

I slowly wake up and she nuzzles her head against my chest. I give her a kiss on her forehead and decide it’s time to write a little something ’bout her. We’re almost two years into marriage and I’m still figuring her out. Some of my most favorable moments of Olive exemplify me watching her bloom into one of those flowers you intentionally stop to pick alongside the highway on an afternoon drive. I’ll be here to wipe up your tears, gauge your fears, celebrate your mountain-top experiences and most of all — pull you close to me when we dance awkwardly like no one else is watching.

Definition of Olive according to the Dictionary:

/ˈɒlɪv/
noun
1. an evergreen oleaceous tree, Olea europaea, of the Mediterranean region but cultivated elsewhere, having white fragrant flowers, and edible shiny black fruits
2. the fruit of this plant, eaten as a relish and used as a source of olive oil
3. the wood of the olive tree, used for ornamental work
4. any of various trees or shrubs resembling the olive
5. a yellow-green colour
(as adjective): an olive coat

My definition of Olive:

  1. a cute, dependable, beautiful, squish-able, courageous, lovable wife
  2. the keeper of all the yarn
  3. an independent woman who loves Jesus
  4. the mama to a furry baby by the name of Neptune
  5. an introvert at heart, but loves hospitality (as verb): Olive cooks dinner for the broz of her Huzz

 

 

 

 

 

Swipe Right

Prelude

I looked in the mirror and put on my bright blue crocheted hat.

My black hair pitch dark as the night.

It was 6:18p.m. and he asked me to text him before I walked over.

At 6:31, I stepped out the door and into the alley.

For a moment, life was in slow motion but about to take full speed.

—–

She stopped by Room #104 for about an hour. It was 9:53p.m.

She was called in earlier to work to make that fast cash.

I told her about the surprise in the paper bag.

She reached carefully inside for the confection.

She put the sweet surprise to her lips and bit down ravenously because she just got off work.

She was hungry.

Stories of college memories bounced back and forth between us, like a plastic ball in an old fashioned, coin-operated arcade game.

He sat there smiling, supportive of me as always, with no room for him to get a word in edgewise.

She sat there glancing at me, still munching down on the cookie.

All in a moment, she told us she needed to leave shortly for another one of her Tinder dates.

I pretended to be excited for her because I was sort of hoping for more time.

At 10:43, I walked out with my buddy and came to a stand still on the side walk.

And we both saw her.

I watched my sister, dome light lit, with the pressure to put on makeup and a fresh coat of lipstick.

For one hour, she was going to give a little of her heart away over drinks all because she swiped right.

For one night, that night, she would become someone a little different.

The touches of makeup on her face transformed her into a Tinder dream. When she arrived at the bar in East Nashville, her date wouldn’t even know she recently ate a cookie with the words “Swipe Right” delicately engraved on it.

I saw her believe she could be someone else.

As the stars popped out of the sky, I walked to Suby and hopped into the passenger seat.

Ice cream on the horizon for my buddy and I, and for her — a world full of future romantic acquisitions.

Stay

My work-day finished around 4:45p.m. on a Friday afternoon.

When I got home, I opened the door and the pups charged at me like I was an opened jar of peanut butter; and then there was you.

You told me you had news to share.

A million ideas ran through my mind like shoppers in a chaotic-frenzy on Black-Friday. This was a different kind of Black-Friday.

I welcomed your news as I sat down at the kitchen table, like a patient waits anxiously for a glamorous report from the doctor.

But this time, the diagnosis was fearful.

You told me you were leaving Nashville.

You told me you joined a new band.

You told me second-to-last because Olive wasn’t home yet.

You told me you’d return someday. You promised me.

Tears streamed down my face.

My head and heart were abandoned.

I felt angry, scared, and my bones shuttered.

I didn’t want to think about the future somedays in case they might never come.  You may never come home.

I texted Stephanie earlier in the day and told her that you were one of my buds I could count on.

The solid kind. The kind who are intentional.

The kind who are consistent. The kind who aren’t flaky.

The kind who stay.

You told me life would still go on.

You told me I would be okay.

But the truth is, I’m not okay.

You told me Olive would be here.

And then I remember…dreams look differently sometimes and so does God’s plan.

As I lay my head down next to my sexy wife tonight, I’m reminded of the past four years we’ve enjoyed together and already look forward to your return.

I just wish you’d stay.

I met you nine years ago.

I met you nine years ago.

But you were someone different before I knew you.

Let me take you on a trip down memory lane.

Just remember, you haven’t lost your way because the door is always open.

—–

Welcome to the year 1989 in small-town Indiana.

President Ronald Reagan delivered his farewell address to a nation looking for Hope.

You, however, found hope in mom’s gracious heart and a pair of glass slippers.

The shiny shoes brought you to a place of comfort and unbelievable imagination.

Tomorrow — you, Mom, Jeff and Jane would hop in the car to make the long trek down to Florida.

On the drive, you stared out the window and looked at the cloud-formations in the sky.

You dreamed of living in a cloud-castle because this clearly happens in fairytales.

But in reality, you counted down the minutes until you would see Dad again.

All of a sudden, mom realized she forgot to pack the slippers and made an urgent call.

A couple days later, he arrived with your hopes and dreams in his hands; the pair of glass slippers. As the princess, you ran into your father’s arms in splendid joy.

You were ecstatic because you were reunited once again with your prince.

In the meantime, the ocean waves rolled in and out, forming their own clouds in the sand.

—–

Welcome to the year 1996.

USA won the inaugural World Cup of Hockey.

Baba and Grandpa are standing in their yard.

You were probably around eight years old.

From what I recall, you thought you were a puppy before you were a little girl.

Before Becky came into the picture, your best friend was a black Labrador Retriever by the name of Dakota.

As the frisbee soared across the yard, Kota jumped up to catch it, and ran back towards you to catch your heart, too.

With Baba and Grandpa cheering you on, life was a perfect memory.

Then one afternoon, Baba surprised you with your very own miniature frisbee.

Because of this precious gift, you were flying high once again.

Even though this sweet pup is now in Heaven, “Kota” misses you, and the one hot summer day when you ran around the yard with a frisbee in your mouth pretending to be just like her.

—–

Welcome to 2006.

NASA launched the New Horizons Spacecraft.

You transferred into Belmont the Spring semester of freshman year.

You missed the fall semester because you broke your ankle in a car crash.

During class introductions, she thought you were too enthusiastic and quite annoying; and you thought she was the “mean girl” from Upstate New York.

As the weeks rolled on, you were invited to your friend Jackie’s house to study for accounting. To your wild surprise, Jackie’s roommate turned out to be the very same girl who thought you were a little over the top.

When you arrived to study, the “mean girl” wasn’t too impressed but eventually welcomed you with open arms and no more friction.

Now, you two are the best of friends and world travelers.

—–

Welcome to 2007, a year full of possibilities.

Bob Barker aired his last episode of The Price Is Right.

You invited me into your home and it was an exciting evening enjoying baked ziti, wild laughter, and Woodchuck Cider.

No one’s ever REALLY invited me over, especially since high school.

I remember Kenny Valentine, the temporary love of your life.

You squeezed him tight, kissed him, and then I met Sean.

As your brother, I approved of him (and a couple of your other boyfriends) because I was on your side.

I supported your songwriting, didn’t feel lonely to alone with you, and continuously asked if you thought I’d ever get married.  You weren’t too sure.

Even though I knew you’d be the first to get married, the most wonderful and imperfect guy is still waiting for you around the bend (and maybe he could be one of my friends).

—–

Tomorrow, it’s 2016.

For the first time in history, the national Powerball lottery will surpass one billion dollars.

I just sent you a New Year’s video text message from my wife, Olive and I.

You smiled when you received it and shared it with your girlfriends around the dinner table.

On the first day of the year, you’ll probably learn a new cocktail recipe for the Southwest terminal — map out another adventure to take you from Point A to Point B — and maybe even, contemplate dating again.

In other news, did you get my text?

If not, I’ll send you a few more encouraging messages — and emails, phone calls, FaceTime sessions.

love Brother Benz.

Smudged 

I wish you would come home.

I’m scared.

The lights are on and the welcome mat is set just for you.

Well, that dream never came true and now I’m pacing back and forth down the alley looking for you.

—–

I remember that one crisp, fall, breezy day at the end of the year.

With one foot in front of the other, I thought about calling you.

But, you probably didn’t want to hear from me anyway.

With hesitation, I picked up the phone.

After four rings, I let you know my parents were going to be in town the following week.

I craved you’d show up, but you proved me wrong again.

You didn’t care about my family or my skyscraper expectations.

I didn’t give a damn about your schedule, your wife’s parents coming into town or your work commitments.

I guess I was naive and put too much trust in you.

I thought we were neighbors, but suspected we were strangers.

—–

The next day, you pulled up to the brick building.

You surprised me, which I thought wasn’t in your vocabulary.

But you did it. You won the spelling bee.

—–

Fifteen months later and my heart is still smudged, but there’s less clutter.

I didn’t realize the messiness of my disposition then — but I do now.

You aren’t within walking distance anymore, but the lights are still on at home.

My expectations are looking more like apartment-sized baby houses and you have a blooming family.

I’m no longer pacing the streets to mask my fears.

—–

As I sit here tonight with a puppy dog and a wife of my own, I’m reminded of who you might still think I am.

But, I’m different now and don’t need your acceptance.

I guess you could say we both discovered what it really means to feel at home.

Thank you for picking up the phone the other day.

Thank you for standing by my side, even when I’m the most fragile.

And most of all, thank you for not bolting. Continue reading