heaven and hysteria



That’s my planet.

(I told my dad, because maybe in a past life I believed that I could have a ruling planet. Some giant ball of gas and toxicity thousands and thousands of miles away that had some affect on me as a fellow thing made out of star stuff.)

Maybe it does.

Walking along this beach was the usual quiet hum of waves approaching. Dad was using his phone to tell me about which planets were what, because on this stretch of Florida land it was the darkest night I’d seen in years.

I could even make out the Milky Way.

Saturn was there.

Of course the Moon, peaking over the peninsula. (Oh! and some shooting stars, if you’re the romantic.)

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Spending time with family is parts heaven and hysteria. Love and love’s fun way of being with the ones that see you gain weight and grow up and live through life’s light and dark.

It is sometimes overwhelming to imagine the time of things — sitting in the midst of three generations thinking, “So many things happened just right.” And now I’m here, sitting with the people that brought me to this place.

I realize I read too much into a thing, but I also don’t want to pass up a good thing. Especially if it helps me.

Especially if a day is good.
Catching crabs off the beach,

drinking cold beer and wrapping up the hot sun.

it soaked deeply into my skin, the heat I can still feel.

I suppose it’s always new, whatever the tide brings me.

some peace to calm the worry,

with my heels sinking into the sand.


where the water looks like sweet tea


We’re out of coffee, so this steamy cup of PG Tips with just enough milk will have to do.

And let’s be honest, that light scald on the back of your throat is just perfect.

It’s welcoming and much needed. Like the light rain outside and the low-hanging clouds I know will cool my sunburns.

I am tired.

Just getting back from a small vacation with my family on the coast of Alabama. A state that I’m not very familiar with. (with the exception of its beaches and its love for college football.)

I would always pass through Alabama on my way to Georgia.
Sometimes I call Alabama a backwards Mississippi. (Well, geographically, it’s sorta close.)

Like if Mississippi had a less cool cousin, it would be Alabama.
(And I’m sure natives of ‘Bama would say the same for Mississippi. Fair enough.)

I’m also biased, right? Aren’t we all.

The weather was perfect. Hot. Humid. Sticky. All things you would want on a summer vacation to the beach.

The gulf waters, just cool enough to take the edge off. Realities of the BP oil spill still running on letter boards outside law offices that reside in the shadows of gigantic oyster houses and souvenir shops.


We went on a dolphin tour one day. I think dolphins are super cool. So did our tour guide, which is good because its his job to hype them up to hot, sometimes miserable people. “Tell you what, I seen a dolphin tear through an 8-ft shark!”

As the boat propellers kicked on, it churned the murky gulf waters.

My niece, looked up at me and said, “Uncle Josh! That water looks like sweet tea!”

And in all my days, I’m not sure if I’ve heard something that genuinely cute and honest.

I responded, “You’re right dude! It does!”

That line, resonates deep within me. More or less the fact that it doesn’t look like regular tea, but sweet tea.

That is a southern girl, deep deep down. To the extra syllables in words I never knew could fit any more. That little girl is wild and somethin’ fierce. I pray deep down that the world does not extinguish her fire to be heard.

A day earlier, we were out swimming, and I told her I was thinking of just swimming to Cuba. Not that I thought she would know what Cuba is or where, but that it was far away and that it looks a lot different than Alabama.

Grabbing on to my shoulders, she yelled, “Come on, Uncle Josh, let’s swim to Cuba!”

And so my mind wanders. Thinking of coming up along a shore near fields of sugar cane. Warm breeze. Explaining why everything looks so old, but beautiful and unique. How could a little one understand the complexity of regimes come and gone and that sweets can’t just be bought at Winn-Dixie, but are more or less rationed.

But all that doesn’t really matter. At least in this story.

Because when the water looks like sweet tea,

you don’t ask hard questions. You soak it in the best you can and realize how small you are in the thick of it.

In actuality, the water is so salty. It stings your eyes and burns your nose.

But for those few days, it was sweet…

and it was just what I needed.