moments redheaded fury

THIS is a moment

Friday – September 10

I sat down tonight and watched A Single Man. Floored at 8:06pm on a Friday night, I’m here on my laptop because I can’t stop thinking about moments.

Behind all of the bitch slapping and f-bombs, I’m an incurable romantic and closet eavesdropper: a story well-told is better than an orgasm I didn’t give myself, the finest chocolate or the creamiest banana milkshake. A great story reminds you that everyone has one, wrought with passion, piercing pain, utter fuck-ups and victories both concrete and imagined. I think myself a selfish bitch some days because I get so caught up in my own bullshit that I forget about other people’s stories. And those stories give us moments.

Back in Access, I talked about how I don’t think we leave the house in our single years each day looking for love – we go in search of access. People who will let us in and ultimately, our stories will intertwine. A dance of quirks and perfections – it’s like the nerds all get to dance with the prom queen and captain of the football team. For once. No one gets sprayed with pig’s blood. Life becomes a John Waters film.

If I think of the greatest moments in my life, they don’t have words when they happen(ed). They’re a curious blend of timing, circumstance, participants and whatever happens to be aligned or in retrograde. Romantic love is always referenced in terms of “chemistry.” Moments – well, maybe they’re the times where we share chemistry with the universe. They’re fleeting and were they to last longer, they’d become du jour. Sagas. Epics. De rigeur.


Today, each of us has a love lost. A nightmarish ex-whatever. The friend who fucked us (and not even in the at-risk-for-an-STD kind of way).

But what about the moments?

In spite of it all, there’s the electricity that ran down your spine when he unexpectedly touched your hair on a first not-really-date-is-this-a-date. The one time you saw the human side to the sociopathic narcissist you left a great-paying job to come work for. Hours spent on IM trading nonsensical hilarities that delightfully interrupted all the work you should have been doing. Times where you laughed so loud at an email in your office, people walked in and you claimed a sneeze.

We forget them. Like leftovers in a takeout box, we leave them on the table at the restaurant seven times out of ten and when we realize we don’t have them, we’re pissed.

But we never go back for them. We just miss them when they’re gone.

No matter how magical, we forget.

Tonight, I’m sitting here thinking of moments. Reminiscing, smelling each one, smiling, some tears. Laughing a lot. Missing. See, here’s where I miss them, these moments. But I’m craving, too.

Do you remember the moment where you first realized you love a friend? Not college gay I-love-my-friend. Love. So fucking thankful they’re in your life you have no other words but I love you to describe it love.

That moment.

You are lucky. You are the homecoming queen and the guy everyone wants on their team. A rock star. Famous. People applaud, you run across home plate and Ed McMahon’s on your doorstep with a Happy Gilmore-sized check. And it all happens in about ten seconds.

That’s a moment.

Moments don’t cause enduring pain. They don’t lie to us or keep reminded us how much they suck. We don’t much remember them when something ends – the other seeps through. Moments? Well, they stand in the background, waiting to be remembered again.

They pass through. The people, pets and things that facilitate them may persist, but why are we so anxious to let go of the moments?

I still remember the moment my grandmother gave me a tube of red lipstick in a bright gold, ridged cylinder. I got to put it in my purse before church. Mine. I smiled.

That’s a moment. And I miss her. I miss how I felt at that moment. Like at age seven or so, I was all grown up and I got to keep a Big Girl Thing in my little white patent leather purse and she knew how much it meant to me.

Moments always come along when we least expect them. Seriously – when’s the last time you left your house and said, “I’m gonna go make some moments today! Hell yeah.”? We don’t do that. They sneak up on us, blindside us. And if we’re lucky, we acknowledge them and a part of us changes forever.

I love them. Moments. I’m having one right now as I watch Big Dog sleep, his paw twitching and exhales varying in depth and frequency. I wonder what he’s dreaming and realize I love watching him sleep. For all the drool and water dripped from a sloppy jaw throughout the house, he’s the same 12-pound explosion of fur I adopted in November of 2007 after listening to Shirley Temple’s “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” play on the radio as I drove to the shelter. I’ve never seen his paw twitch. His name is Hippo(potamus, of course).

Next Thursday, I won’t remember his paw twitching or the flashback I had to the moment he plopped himself in my lap at the shelter. The sweet face that told me he was going to come home with me and make the cats’ lives a living hell. The same sweet face that didn’t tell me dogs don’t speak English, or more notably, that puppies know how to crap, eat and chew – none of which are ever done in the proper place or with the proper things. Moments make us remember when we allow ourselves the luxury. They’re plush and lush and while not every moment evokes an inner glow, each hits us in an indescribable way. It’s a gift to share a moment with someone or something, but I find an odd comfort in knowing the same moment is experienced differently by everyone involved. A gorgeous game of telephone where everyone gets to keep a little secret.

What are your moments and what do you do to honor them and the people who were a part? Endings we didn’t plan don’t have to mean we discount the moments.

46 replies
  1. sappy
    sappy says:

    beautiful! Can you please have a tear warning? because i am pregnant and, well, it does not allow for control over my tears and i work in a horrid cube!!

    that said, your words flooded me with memories of all kinds of moments – thank you!
    (all the ones i think to share would require an entire post of their own, so i will spare you!)

  2. Killian
    Killian says:

    Your column moved me to tears, Erika. I almost want to bitchslap you for that, since I’m sitting in my office right now, but instead, I’ll just smile and thank you.

    Your message today is exactly what I have tried so hard to build with my kids. They don’t remember how many times a week I mopped the kitchen floor, but they still remember almost detail for detail the Friday afternoon I showed up at their school to pull them out for a surprise weekend road trip. This was somewhere around 8 years ago, but they remember it exactly.

    I honor my Moments by giving them the power to act as a salve when things are stressful. I sit back and let them wash over me one by one, each a smidgen of balm to an injured spirit. I remember things like my kids trying to bake me cookies as an apology for acting shitty one day, and messing up the recipe. Good Lord, they were horrible, but it was the sweetest gesture! I remember the morning I woke up after nearly dying the night before from an infection, in a haze of pain, anesthesia, and confusion, so, so grateful to have come back to still be my kids’ Mom.

    So many Moments, each one a precious as the rest. I can’t wait to see what one comes next.

  3. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    I grew up in a small town (like really small) in Central Texas and about once every 6 months or so I get the chance to go back. From the moment I pass the city limits sign, I know that there is no way I’ll get to the other side of town in any reasonable amount of time. I take every side road and remember back to when I got my drivers license and drove that road for the first time (or the 10,000th just because I could drive). And God bless my wife if she’s in the car with me… she sits and smiles as I ramble on and tell her who’s house is who’s and where we used to play football every Saturday or where we would hide and drinks beer that someone had swiped.

    It’s not reliving “the glory days of high school” but it’s remembering when things were simple and I didn’t need twitter or facebook for a laugh. There were lots of good and bad memories in that old town. And I seem to enjoy each one just the same.

  4. niellemc
    niellemc says:

    I’m trying to work on keeping focus on the present moment, so as to not miss out on something while reminiscing on the past. Good thing about moments, if you don’t like this one, another is coming along 🙂

  5. Rick Copper
    Rick Copper says:

    When one gets older, they learn to look back in wonder and laugh. If you don’t, you’ll choke on your own bitter pill. Good things happen, even in seemingly bad moments. I had a girlfriend leave me in Key West while I was getting a tattoo. I hopped out of the chair in mid-tat, searched for her for two hours (airport and back, hotel, etc). Came back, finished the tattoo (don’t EVER do this, Jesus it was painful). I look at it not as that moment, but the moments prior. We had a helluva time for two days prior. Write them all down – good and supposedly bad – just like this.

  6. Fischworks
    Fischworks says:

    You have given a great gift with this entry. The pieces of time that we keep and cherish, in joy or in grieving, or both are ours to experience. We can do with them what and however we want, or can grow beyond them if that is the way of our life. I have valued so highly the minutes in the morning snuggling with my Rottweiler. They are so luxurious!

  7. Tyler Adams
    Tyler Adams says:

    I was 6 years old. Maybe 7. My uncle was in town to help me and my brother build a clubhouse in our backyard. I didn’t get to see him often. A couple of times a year at best, Christmases, Thanksgivings, the usual. I loved all of my family but he was my favorite. He could make you laugh without trying. He could give you a look such that you knew, unequivocally, the genuineness of everything he felt and said. More than anything, he made you feel comfortable, relaxed-he had that special way about him. That’s a quality I’ve come to cherish in people as I have grown up.

    After several days of building the clubhouse we were almost done. The cement had dried. The foundation set. The frame built. Only the finishing touches remained. The day was slowly easing into the night. We were almost done. There was one nail left to be hammered into the wood. My uncle handed me the hammer and told me I should have the last nail. Just as I was about to hit it my mother called me inside. She said it was too dark to work. “Mom, we’re almost done!”. She pulled out the tone of voice that only mothers can letting me know I was coming inside, now. There was only one nail left. He was going to let me hammer it in. My uncle finished. The night had arrived. He left the next morning.

    About a month later, I was watching tv on the couch with my brother before school. It was 6am and we were watching one of those cheesy kids shows, the type that can only possibly air before school starts. My brother was older and got two of the couch cushions while I was limited to one. My mother walked into the living room. Tears were streaming down her face. I had seen her cry before, but never like this. She told us that our uncle had died. We didn’t have to go to school if we didn’t want to. It’s okay to cry.

    I was young. Too young to know what suicide was. Sometimes I have trouble remembering him. Remembering what he looked like or things he said. But I will never forget those moments from the last time I saw him. That last nail. The couch cushions. My mother’s tears.

    His name was Alex.

  8. Lara Galloway
    Lara Galloway says:

    Well, had a moment myself this morning. Dropping my almost-four-year-old daughter at kindergarten for her first day. No matter that her two older brothers love school and have always loved school, and no matter how many hugs and words of encouragement we all gave her today, she was deadset on hating school. No idea where this attitude came from.

    I was “the one”… There’s always one person who sticks out like a sore thumb in certain events. Teachers on the first day of school know that there will be at least one kid and one mom who lose it when it’s time to say goodbye and let someone else take care of your baby. And let me be clear: I am *all for* her going off to kindergarten (yippee), really. I’m not one of those moms who can’t bear to be separated from her kids. But the grief and desperation she demonstrated by kicking, screaming, and having to be pried off of my left leg to be taken into the school building left me a blubbering, sniffling, confused mess. Other moms came over to console me, tell me she’ll be ok, tell me I’ll adjust…

    I was embarrassed for a moment that I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down my face in so public a space, but this was such a moment.

    I love that you’ve invited us in your post today to honor the moment in and of itself. Good or bad or whatever. So I’m going to honor this moment and really allow all the thoughts and feelings that come up with sending your youngest to school, watching her struggle as she’s forced to start playing games with rules she doesn’t understand, learning about conventions and consequences to bucking them, and honoring my emotions as a woman who gets really messed up by seeing her baby struggle. I know it will pass. We’ll all be fine. But I appreciate you reminding me to dwell in the moment rather than wishing for it to pass by as quickly as possible.

  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I treasure each and every one of mine. Something oft overlooked. Maybe it’s because I’m older than crap, so I know better than to let them languish, unremembered.

    A beautiful read.

    BTW, is that the couch that I’m sleeping on? #justaskin


  10. Liz Scherer
    Liz Scherer says:

    Wow. This is how I feel, think, wonder. This is one of the most gorgeous things you have shared Erika and I thank you for creating today’s moment for me.

    My favourite line?
    Moments – well, maybe they’re the times where we share chemistry with the universe. They’re fleeting and were they to last longer, they’d become du jour. Sagas. Epics. De rigeur.

    These very words have come from my mouth but never so eloquently or so well woven together that they form the chemistry on their very own.

    Chemistry with the universe. You nailed it.

  11. Purplehayz
    Purplehayz says:

    While some of these moments are inappropriate to share (with anyone LOL) I do think some moments are important for leaders to share; they become the centerpiece of stories that illustrate desired behaviors/outcomes or the inverse….

  12. Mike Masin
    Mike Masin says:

    My dad was in an elder-care facility. I didn’t know it at the time but his remaining time was short. He hadn’t spoken or responded to anybody for a few days; maybe longer. I said something to him not expecting a response and he answered. Coherently. And then the moment passed and he was back in his new world. That was the last time I saw him before he died.A moment in my life; being able to talk with him, however briefly, one more time. I love you and I miss you dad.

  13. CalebSimpson
    CalebSimpson says:

    Dang, why the heck don’t I read your blog more often? This is great! One of the most recent moments I experience was when the girl I had loved for two years made a four hour drive to see me and tell me she loved me too, this came 4 months after I had cut off communication with her and moved one. It was a fantastic moment, unexpected and memorable. She broke the news to me in a crowded restaurant that we both love over breakfast.

  14. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    My wife, after heart surgery, strapped to her bed so she wouldn’t pull out the respirator that was keeping her alive. She couldn’t talk so I put the palm of my hand by the fingers of her left hand. She began to spell out on my palm: D – O – N- T – W- O – R – R – Y

    My wife makes everyone else I meet seem unremarkable – she’s unconquerable (and doing very well 6 years after her surgery).

    Nuff said.

    PS – Thanks for sharing this. Hug.

  15. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I have so many moments, many that involve the youngest of my two sisters.

    My youngest sister is a travel bug and several years ago we went out to Yosemite, Muir Woods, and San Fran. While we had a ton of different moments here are three of my favorite ROFLMAO ones that we will never forget from that trip.

    1. She was dying to check out this “artsy” hotel in San Fran and booked us a room there – three of us in a queen bed. Each room has been decorated by a local artist so each room is a unique “piece of art”. We check into our room and it’s plain white…with nothing but a small copper can in one corner. She is freaking out upset and goes to the front desk to ask for any of the rooms that are shown on their website. The desk clerk kindly informs us that that is a very popular room. It is a time capsule (the copper can is “recording” activities in the room). I think she’s still upset about that damn room. Personally I didn’t mind, it had a bed and the three of us had just spent several nights crammed into a two person tent.

    2. I snore…really, really bad….while we were camping in Yosemite apparently she woke up one night hearing rustling outside of the tent and worried it was a bear that was attracted to the camp site because of my snoring.

    3. We went to Muir Woods and while hiking along this narrow path she declared that she needed to pull a wedgie out….but wanted to wait until there was no one behind us so I offered to be the look out for “no people”. Gave her the go-ahead and at the moment she stuck her hand down the back of her pants I snapped the picture. Unfortunately the flash went off so she knew I had done it….and immediately freaked out that I’d give the picture to our mom to put into our annual scrapbook. (Later she was covert and managed to innocently get the camera away from me under the guise of “let me take a picture of you under the entrance sign” and deleted the picture).

    Ah, yeah….happy moments….funny moments….I love my little sis.

  16. Antonia Harler
    Antonia Harler says:

    This is beautiful. I love it. A moment for me is when you forget everything around you and all you feel is complete content and happiness. Moments last a split second but when you think back you remember the noise around you, the smell of your surroundings and the people or animals in it. Moments are a funny thing. Even if there’s a bad ending to an entire story sometimes you do wish to hop back in time and relive those few seconds or minutes with the bliss of not knowing how it’s all going to end.

    Very beautiful post.

  17. Stacey Hood
    Stacey Hood says:

    I suppose my moment came when my dad died of melanoma. I’d received a call from my mom that he’d passed out after breakfast and she couldn’t wake him up. Me and my sister knew it was coming sooner than later. We’d made plans to head down the previous week to go see the two of them, little did I think it would be the last time for my dad.

    We had a really bad relationship. Nothing I did was good enough for my father and even the Sunday before I got the call from my mother, he was chewing on me for my decision to go back to school to get my master’s degree, instead of “sticking to what you know.”

    He was a hard-drinker, abusive in a lot of ways, hated to travel, didn’t do well in crowds, etc…but always provided for us. He would come to my soccer games drunk, after I’d put in 75 minutes, asking me why I wasn’t playing….missed me scoring or having a great assist.

    When we arrived in town, we immediately went to the hospital where he was on a respirator, IVs, etc. he was barely coherent thanks to the morphine. I was speechless as this huge Northern Irish man had shrunk to almost nothing. My closest cousin and my aunt were there and I asked to them to excuse us so that I could spend some time with my father.

    Holding back the tears, I held his hand and talked to him as I’d never done before, because I knew he wouldn’t throw a punch at me or yell at me instead of talking to me; I questioned why he couldn’t be the dad I needed and wanted him to be, why he couldn’t stop drinking and abusing us…I want to say that he griped my hand a little as I held his huge bear paw of a hand in mine. Years of our relationship came to a head as it just poured out of me along with the tears.

    This was Thurs…Thanksgiving. Friday night we received the call that he’d passed. Shortly after the hospital called, we received another call, it was the local VFW hall. The commander of the hall told us that my father was eligible for a National burial(as all vets are, from what I understand), but he was also a hero.

    He asked that I come alone to the VFW hall the next day, he wanted to show me something and talk to me in person. The guy knew me my whole life, he was good friends with my father and I could always count on him to give me a 1uarter for the jukebox or the pinball machine when I was growing up and my parents were “bending their elbow” as they called it.

    Next day as I met with him, he told me that my father had been awarded several honors and awards thanks to his duty in Korea. He showed me the medals my father had been awarded and while I knew he’d been in Korea, I wasn’t aware to the extent of his duty. Whenever I asked, he simply said; “I was in communications.” I had seen some pix and even wore his jacket to high school, the same one that he had worn in Korea when he was not much older than I was.

    What I didn’t know was that my father had been shot down twice. Evidently he was in some sort of unit back then, which would nowadays be considered black ops. When he was shot down, both times, he rescued fellow crew members and held off the enemy until they could be rescued and came close each time to being either killed or a POW.

    It was at this point that everything suddenly made sense. My father did the best he could while fighting a lot of personal demons. He saw things that a lot of us never dream about in our safe little world in the US.

    I always promised myself that I would never be that sort of father; emotionally and mentally abusive, yelling, angry at the world, take it out on the kids, etc, etc, etc….and after hearing this story from one of his closest friends, I realized that maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.

    That was my moment & I carry it with me every day as a reminder.

  18. Shelly
    Shelly says:

    I have so many moments that popped into my head while reading this- I think I will write a blog post on it… But thought I would share this one here…

    I was 8 years old, we travelled to my grandparent’s house to stay for a few weeks. My grandfather had lung cancer, and after all the tests, treatments and experimental medicine he could find, he came home to die.

    They set up the bedroom with oxygen and IV’s and the doctor came by a few times a day. ( I’m old – they did that then!).

    By the time we arrived at the house, he was in a coma. I wasn’t allowed back in the room. They said it would upset me. I, of course, snuck back there often, watched him sleep and talked to him. He, of course, didn’t talk back.

    The morning we were leaving to go home, my grandmother took me back into the room so I could say goodbye to him. We were standing there saying goodbye and he woke up. He pulled off the oxygen mask, sat up and my grandmother set me up on the bed. My grandfather told me that my dress was pretty and that he loved me. I gave him a hug and kiss. My grandmother told me he was tired and I had to leave. I had no idea why she was crying.

    We arrived home to our phone ringing. It was my grandmother telling my mother that my grandfather had died. He is, I believe, without a doubt, one of the busiest guardian angels ever and has looked over me always.

  19. Judy Martin
    Judy Martin says:

    The topic hits the heart, but the writing was galvanizing. So many moments.

    I think the last loving look, the last breath of my hospice patients. Not a sadness, but a release. A glimpse of long awaited peace, a wonderment of what’s to come.

  20. Cynthia
    Cynthia says:

    I love how beautifully this is written. You are enormously talented, and I am actually extremely jealous of your talent. (That’s called rigorous honesty! Lol) In my world, the moments you speak of are called ‘moments of clarity.’ My world is the world of a recovered alcoholic. A very grateful, still sometimes crazy, but mostly sane alcoholic. I am eternally grateful to my higher power (which I choose to call God) that he afflicted me with the illness of alcoholism, because if he had not, I would not see/feel/hear/touch/smell the moments of clarity I have every day.
    The day I woke up was not the day I decided to ‘get sober’, however. I didn’t really think of it as getting sober, actually. I wanted to stop hurting so badly that I was willing to do things I never thought to do before. And if that meant not taking a drink, then that was what I was going to do. I was still sifting through fog and loud, racing thoughts and waves of different emotions that hit me on my blind side for about 3 weeks or so after June 10, 2005. I literally felt like my feelings were going to kill me, and I was so relieved when someone finally told me they wouldn’t.
    I put on a different pair of glasses and that, I believe, is what led me out of the fog. The fog that weighed heavy on me every day, every moment. The fog that told me my life was shit, I was shit. Shit on the bottom of a shoe. The day I woke up was when I decided to stop wishing for something to change my life and let something bigger than me do it. I was exhausted from not accepting that I couldn’t control anything that happened in my life.
    Why couldn’t he just say the right thing? Why couldn’t my parents take care of me better? Why couldn’t my ex-husband leave me and my daughter alone and stop making my life a living Hell? Why couldn’t my job pay better and move me up the ladder? Why did my friends treat me like crap when all I ever did was try to make them happy? Why did everything have to go wrong all at the same time? The only moments that existed in my life back then were filled with doubt, fear, heartache, and anger (that I couldn’t even express because I couldn’t tell people how I REALLY felt).
    Today, I am a miracle. To be able to think that there is a way out of the darkness. To think that being human is not such a bad thing. To accept my defects of character and know that I have positives, too, and I am working on uncovering more of each. To look at the world around me and want to be a part of it, instead of constantly wanting to crawl in a hole, squeeze myself till I cannot breathe, and just drift away into whatever was out there that I didn’t believe in anyway.
    The glasses I wear today see the moments around me every day, every moment. Even the bad moments where I act dry instead of sober. Even the moments where I make a split-second decision that gets me what I want instead of what I need. Even the moments where my heart hurts and I still sometimes feel like I’m being crushed from the inside out, and that all those people were wrong when they said that my feelings wouldn’t kill me.
    I hear my God all around me every day, every moment. It is my choice how I am going respond to life, and not to react to it.
    The moments I have today….my children laughing……crying when I am so overjoyed/grateful/heartbroken/moved that it spills out all over my face…..looking out at the mountains right behind my house and wondering how lucky I am to be alive and well today…..
    Not every moment in my life now is great, or happy, or even necessarily life-changing. But every single moment is appreciated and takes me to a different point in my life and they happen in just the right order.
    How am I to be this lucky? I smile today because I know that I am loved…….. 🙂

  21. Dominic
    Dominic says:

    Erika, you have become a great writer. That was perfect.

    the moment I remember was only a few years ago, when I was visiting my family over Christmas. Everyone went to Christmas Eve mass except me and 2 year old Quinn. She wasn’t feeling well, and since I’m the family heathen, I agreed to stay and take care of her. We played, we ate, we pottied. Then, while watching some long-forgotten children’s show, I had my moment. I was laying on the couch and little Quinn was laying on top of me, with her head on my chest. She suddenly looked up and squinted at me.

    “What?” I said

    “You’re my Uncle, right?”


    Quinn smiled. “That means you have to take care of me, right?”


    She snuggled into my chest. “I love you, Uncle Badomic.” (She couldn’t say my name then.

    Gulp. Great moment.


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