I haven’t participated in WordPress.com’s Daily Post Weekly Challenges yet, but when I read today’s I knew I had to join in. My character for this challenge is someone I know very well, and have become very close to over the last year of seeing each other almost every day. Read on to learn more!
“The Kissing Turtle needs a kiss,” Miah insists.
He holds out the dish that holds some little pieces of sea glass and a wooden turtle. Miah’s distinctive touch is on all these objects. He rescued the little glass dish that then held the remains of a raspberry tart from a pile of cast-offs in front curb of an apartment that he claimed appeared to be being cleaned out after someone’s death. The wooden turtle had been a knick-knack, an old roommate’s forgotten bauble that had lain, neglected, on my windowsill with a broken front flipper–Miah dusted him off and glued his flipper back on and placed him in the dish. There, he was apparently “lonely” until Miah brought some antique sea glass with raised lettering on it back from a trip we took to the Coney Island beach post-Sandy when the high tide had brought in all sorts of things long buried in the waves. The glass, Miah says, reminds The Kissing Turtle of his home in the ocean.
How he became the Kissing Turtle is a testament to Jeremiah’s compulsive creativity. It happened in much the same way the teddy bear that I’ve had since I was seven went from a beloved stuffed animal to, under Miah’s creative gaze, a professional cheerer-upper who attended BearCLA (part of the Bear University system in California), perfected a technique called “pooming” in which he sweeps away the bad things inside a person’s head with gentle teddy bear punches, and has a favorite song (“Luckiest Bear in Union Square,” which, just in case you’re wondering, is sung to the tune of “Luckiest Guy in The Lower East Side”). Miah takes inanimate objects and makes them real, loved and loving, with lives and stories and likes and dislikes. All this childlike creativity in a man who is thirty-four years old, six and a half-feet tall, loves whiskey both good and awful, and is sometimes known to grow ridiculous facial hair like Fu Manchus and muttonchops.
Miah is a professional songwriter who writes at one least song a week, often more. His songs are often about such subjects as traveling, hard-working people, and cheating. In Miah’s world, anything is a cause for creativity–something he finds written on a bar napkin, a news story, a throwaway line in a conversation with a friend. Any of these things can be the basis for a new song, a new character, a new world. As a creative person myself, being around this constant flow of creativity is inspiring. My world, since Miah has been in it, is even more full of imagination. We sit in the same room, typing on two old-fashioned typewriters, making up universes as we smile across the noise at one another.
Last summer, Jeremiah had a vocal cord injury and couldn’t sing or even speak for months. During this time, he was sequestered away in a cabin upstate, and I got him his own teddy bear to “poom” away his sadness over his situation. Since then, that bear has gone with him everywhere he has gone inside his bag–to doctor’s offices, to meetings, even on tour where he hung out in Miah’s guitar case while he played on stage. “Little Bear” has become a rock star bear who loves honey and blackberry malts. Miah’s phone is filled with pictures such as Little Bear at the Space Needle and Little Bear at the Met Opera.
“He needs a kiss!” Miah insists. “Kiss the Kissing Turtle.”
I lean down and kiss the small wooden turtle on his tiny face. In Miah’s hand, he happily swims with his sea glass back to his spot on the windowsill.