Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pay Attention to the Cup

My life was pretty simple the year I first became a teenager. I played baseball, thought a lot about girls and, when at home, spent as much time as possible alone in my bedroom writing and dreaming of one day becoming a famous actor or writer, or both. And once a week I went to 7-11 and bought a slurpee in a plastic cup. The cups had an imprint of a superhero or sport legend but I really didn’t pay attention to the cup, though I kept a stack of them on the shelf anyway. My folks separated that year and divided the kids up, and useless cups and other things were tossed out. I soon forgot about innocent privacies and dreamy slurpee days.

A few weeks ago I arrived at Union Station in Washington, DC and stopped for a moment to observe the people. I imagined their comings and goings and reunions and goodbyes and then I imagined something else. I thought of Esther arriving through one of those doors. There she was looking straight at me, a beam of light pouring down upon her freckled face, bright and alive and smiling, bags in hand, home from a very long trip. I went to her and held on and in that moment I didn’t care about eternal mysteries or questions about where she’d been, I only cared that she was there with me, in that place, in that moment.

A few days later I went to the American History museum at the Smithsonian and at the end of my long visit spotted something familiar in a display case. It was the very type of plastic slurpee cup I had once treasured, something I had not seen in 40 years! It surprised me that the tears I felt on my cheeks were mine, probably the only person in that corner of the museum crying over a cup! But I wasn’t ashamed. The cups (there were many of them) presented themselves to me as friends, somehow protected from the years, safe and sound, protected by the glass. It was as if they wanted me to know they were okay and assure me that I’d be okay, too.

Love may be like that, the pure recognition and acceptance of something or someone very important to us. Friends don't care that time has passed, or that distance may have separated them. All that matters is that they are okay. Once upon a time they were with us as we got through impossible times. They are still beloved friends, and daughters and husbands and pets and sometimes things. The sacred thing. Even behind glass or in voyages of the mind, in an unguarded moment they can still present themselves, these loyal ones that once carried us, made us who we are, loved us, helped us dream, helped us believe.

Listen. Stop awhile in the station. You might just stumble upon a time machine, or a bit of magic in a plastic cup.

From the early '70's.


  1. Again, just the words I need to hear. :) Love has always been this kind of distant thing that I've craved, observing life from my place on the sidelines. It seems like what things and people I love tend to turn bitter. But maybe some of them will turn out to be friends in the end. Thanks for sharing this story, Wayne.

  2. Hi Wayne, my name is Laura and I am a fan of Esther.
    I was reading "this star won't go out" and this makes me thinking about the life..
    Esther had so many problems and she was always happy and so strong, she is a true star and you and your family deserve the best, for caring about her, and giving her so many reasons to smile! I'm sure she had the best parents!
    I know is impossible, but if you read this someday, send me an e-mail, I will be very grateful (my e-mail is
    Thank you so much, I learned so many precious thing about life with that book!

    Always a fan
    obs: I am fan of all the family