Rook and Pawn

“I’m at Carowinds with my niece and nephew riding the Scooby-Doo ride,” he says without a hint of pretense. He is covered from head to toe in tattoos, looks like he’s in his mid-twenties, and is dressed in a steampunk uniform. His answer surprises me since it is only us at the bar, there is no woman working behind it either. He’s not trying to impress anyone. This is his honest answer.

“My sister and her boyfriend both work a lot and they don’t have time as I do.” He informs me that he works as an artist at one of the local tattoo parlors. “I’ve always wanted kids, wanted to have a family but I’ve never really met someone I thought I could trust.” He says so matter of fact. “So I love just hanging out with my niece and nephew. I get to help them be kids, have a childhood and all. Tell you the truth, I’d rather hang out with them than go to any concert or party.”

I walk along the sidewalk around midday. It’s summer and the day is warm but the deep blue sky redeems it. I see how all the storefronts have changed in the last year that I’ve been gone. I feel more like a tourist now, unfamiliar with a place I used to call home. It’s not my weekend to have the kids so I’m looking for something I’m not sure of, something to be discovered, something to distract me.

I sit down in a little local coffee shop and order a Cortado and scone. I’m writing lyrics to a song for a compilation of local singers/songwriters. I’m stuck. I have nothing to say. I’m in survival mode and everything feels like it’s on hold. I keep thinking about what this guy said about his niece and nephew. How it is true. How being a part of that is something unlike anything else we get to experience in this life. How I took that risk, I trusted, and how it all fell apart.

I sip my ornate decorated foam art and crunch down on my blueberry scone. Twiddle my pen around in circles like I used to do with sticks behind drums. I stare deep into the back of my mind. Contemplative as though playing chess with God, I mutter under my breath, “Your move.” I walk silently back to my car. I have no words. Not having written a thing. It’s not the time. Sometimes you have to wait. Sometimes it needs to be uncomfortable. Sometimes you have to name the thing holding you back. You have to stop, reject anxiety, and fall deeply into trust.

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