this is a story of hearts. maybe i have told this story already. my memory is like that these days- what i have said and what i written gets all jumbled. my hearts are like this too. yes, i have several. some reside in my body, others do not. you can decide which i am writing about.
i was given a pair of heart earrings many years back. they were cut from some type of stone- thin and less than a half inch in height and dyed bright red. during a dance workshop i put them on the altar- hanging off the wrists of a figurine. for me dancing is like that- my hearts on my sleeves- and that's a good thing. we all need at least one place we can wear our hearts like that. at the end of the weekend workshop i gave one heart away and kept the other.
then i lost it. i didn't even know that i had lost my heart until it was found. my dad pulled it out the coin trap in our impaired washing machine. it was in the center of a large clump of hair, dirt and slime- a mush of dirty laundry sludge. i remember the look of that small red heart in my dad's hand, cracked and red from a lifetime of fixing things. i picked my heart out of my father's hand.
this red heart fit perfectly inside another heart that i had found at goodwill. a small silver locket that i bought for myself one mother's day. i had plans for this heart- it was the locket i always wanted. i imagined small photos of my boys inside. i wanted to have the word "open" engraved on it. sometimes i need that kind of reminder. open my heart. i'm sorry if you are singing that madonna song now- i am. but i didn't get it engraved and no pictures landed inside. i hooked it onto my purse and put the red heart inside of it. it nestled in there snugly although i could hear it jiggle about a little bit. like my heart was trying to escape from the cold metal case i put it into.
it did one day- maybe a kid opened the locket and walked off with my heart. or maybe it just dropped on the sidewalk and bounced a little bit, got kicked into the street, ran over by a SUV. maybe a bird saw it in the grass and brought it home to it's nest where baby birds saw it first thing when they hatched. maybe it was the last thing they saw before they flew away.
my silver heart continued to grasp onto my purse- a piece of twine knotted and braided like an umbilical cord. not long back, i sat in a bakery with some boys and noticed the smallest boy opening and closing my heart. i could tell he liked the clicking sound and the way his actions dramatically changed the shape of my heart. the locket had become dented and dull in the years it swung on my zipper. it was empty now- still no words etched into its face, no pictures inside. i thought about how i should take better care of my hearts. how maybe they could use some intention, some attention, some adornment, some adoration.
we then walked to a nearby park where the board walk was being torn up. much of the area was fenced off by chain link. there was a portable on the grass and several boundary markers- wooden posts stuck in the earth. as i followed the toddler to the bathroom i heard a small "clink" and a skitter as i, unknowingly, kicked my heart. immediately i looked at my purse and confirmed my fear: my heart was gone. i was standing on old planks of wood above the harbor. i imagined my heart sinking into the water like that scene from the movie "the piano." i gasped and all the boys turned around to see me staring down at the boardwalk. the eldest boy peered down in the crack and his face lit up "i see it!"
there was my heart- two feet below my feet on a heap of dirt and debris. i scanned around, like macgyver, and found a piece of wire used to attach chain link to post and fashioned that into a hook. i retrieved the dental floss from my purse and tried to fish out my heart. but i needed more resistance in the line. the hook just skimmed my heart- never caught it. i needed a long wire or stick. sadly, this park was free of any sticks- a downside of urban parks. i noticed the portable and called out to a man there.
he was a nice guy, balding in a hawaiian print shirt. he wanted to help. what he didn't understand was that all i wanted, all i needed was a tool to get my heart back. i didn't need him to do it for me. maybe i could have been more clear about that. as i watched him hunched over the splintery wood i knew he wasn't going to be able to pull up my heart. i was touched by him wanting so badly to give it back to me though. i imagined him telling his wife about how he had helped this frazzled mom with kids running all over retrieve a lost locket. we all want to be a hero.
and we all want a hero too. i know i do. too many cinderella
eventually he went away with an unrealistic idea that they could pull up the boards and get my heart. that was a lot of work and noise and destruction for my heart. i knew i just had to be more clever. i looked around again with a more creative eye. not far was one of the boundary posts- marking how far the construction would span- it was a one by two wooden stake. i pulled it out of the dirt and twisted my wire hook onto it.
after a few attempts, my head pushed to the crack in the ground in a position like a prayer, i hooked onto the purple hemp string of my heart. i held my breath and pulled up the stake- only to have it stuck. the stick being too large. i carefully slid the stake all along the crack until i found a place wide enough to pull my heart through it. i put my heart in the small pocket inside my purse. vowing to be more careful with it.
a few weeks later someone gave me an identical pair of red heart earrings.
and today my son dug out my silver locket heart from somewhere he had hidden it - or maybe i hid it there. hiding your hearts is tricky business. hard to know if you'll be able to find it.
now i'm thinking might be the time to cherish my heart. put it on a necklace, find some photos to tuck inside, maybe get it engraved finally. i still think "open" would be a good thing to write on it. but now i wonder if maybe my heart should say "found" instead.