• Patty Ihm

Lost in the Dark Gray


He's joyful as he glides like a stunt plane along the cement hills and ramps at the skate park. He's riding a scooter, the at-least-decade-old pink Razor that we probably inherited at some point. I hate that thing. It's out to get me; I know this. Every time I pick it up, it swings with the force of a wrecking ball, targeting one shin or the other and catching me off guard. Every time.


There's no one else at the skate park, and Moses likes it that way. He is his own competition. There's nobody here to make him mad, except perhaps me. We have a little time, just the two of us, after delivering Aaron to football camp. Football.


Last night, we were at this same park, at the baseball field, watching Aaron's team go down for the last time. This season of our best game has been devastating and extraordinary at the same time. No matter the outcome, as with so much in life, the season comes to an end. I already miss baseball.


We brought our little dog, Mae, to the game last night. Though she paid no mind to any of the other dogs (yes, this place has a dog run, too), she seemed genuinely happy and grateful to be with us. She had no real idea where she was supposed to be, but she was content on my lap in that space in time. Mae is no different than the rest of us. Wherever she goes, she just wants a little love.


One morning last week, I woke with a song in my head. That's not unusual; I generally do. This time was different, though. It wasn't a song that I had listened to on repeat the day before. It was a chant that had been written somewhere inside my head. What I remember of my dreams usually fades by the time I have brushed my teeth. Not this time. I can still hear it today, and I am still trying to understand the message.


We're lost in the dark gray.


The chant played over and over in my head. I googled the lyrics to see if I was missing something. My searches returned Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time, a song I know well, having played it on repeat in the 1980's. There was no lyric that matched my song, but the message added some clarity to my bewilderment.


I'm not sure there is a way to know the exact interpretation of a song unless you have written it yourself, and that's how it should be. There's a therapeutic process to writing and sharing words. For the reader or the listener, the interpretation might be equally meaningful. That's the beauty of any form of art: felt, heard, or internalized. To me, Time After Time feels mysteriously hard and hopeful, which is, maybe, what it means to be lost in the dark gray. Maybe it's okay to be lost because we know that when it's time, we're going to come out on the other side.


There's a bad word spray-painted on the side of the cement skate ramp where I sit. It's the one I yearn to scream out every time the scooter slams into my shin. My legs mostly cover the letters, but we all know what it says. It's good to get it out.


The morning sunshine, the view of my beloved baseball field, and the air of happiness about my little boy who too often carries burdens that he is unable to share, make me feel like we won't be lost in the dark gray for much longer.


A new season heralds change, and this year will be no different. The end of summer has brought football. That's new. With football, it's even okay to hit people...sometimes. Even if it doesn't go well for Aaron, there will be something else, and we will get there. By now, I know that.


I have decided that it's okay...maybe even necessary...to spend time in the dark gray, gathering ourselves, breathing in the love of what or who is around us, being our own good company, and writing the songs, even unaware, for what's to come.


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