Jodi Hills

So this is who I am – a writer that paints, a painter that writes…


My precious time.

Barbie was my first (and only) friend to get Pong — the premiere “tennis like” computer game. She couldn’t wait to show me. I rode home with her on the school bus. The way she flung open the door, dropping her books, racing to her bedroom, I thought this must really be something. She turned on the small tv screen. It blinked in blue. “It takes a second,” she said. All smiles. I wanted to love it, because she loved it. After explaining the bars of light were like paddles, and the light that moved was like the ball, I enthusiastically said “Great, let’s play!” She told me that we already were. “That’s it?” I thought – I hope it wasn’t out loud, but it probably was. “Isn’t it great????” Was it? Was it even anything? “We could go outside and play tennis,” I said, hoping. “No, this is cool. Let’s stay here,” she said. The screen plunked. Boop. Boop. I was never so bored.

I was so happy when my mom picked me up. I was always happy for that, but this evening most especially. “How was it?” She asked. “Ok, I guess.” “Just Ok?” “Really kind of stupid,” I said. “So you don’t want one?” “No.” She shook her head and smiled.

The next night I stayed outside as long as I possibly could. My mom called me from the garage door three times, not angrily, because I think she knew, (she knew I knew) we were given only so many youthful suns, and they weren’t to be wasted. Our “someday” was now.

My first college roommate loved Ms. Pac-Man. She begged me every night to go watch her play in the common room. Her eyes, shiny like the quarters she held in her hand, “please, please…” she urged. I finally put my book down one night, giving in, and went to watch her move a gobbling girl across the screen. Boop. Boop. Each sound eating up my time. My precious time.

We don’t all love the same things. And maybe I took it too literally when my mom shortened what every mother said on Van Dyke Road — “Go outside,” to just “go.” Off I went. First, just in my mind. Then in books. In school. Across our country. Then off to another.

I made peach and apricot scones for the first time yesterday. I picked them off the tree outside of our open kitchen window. The wind carried the fresh scent through the house, and I carried them to the outdoor table. All the while, our Meta Quest headset that we received as a gift lay charging in the living room.

I continue to create my own world. By heart. By hand. By imagination. My youthful sun is still rising. And the wind carries the gravely voice of VanDyke road saying, joyfully urging — “Let’s go!”

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Youthful summer logic.

We didn’t have lawn furniture. We had blankets — old blankets that took their place beside the winter weary hanging coats and resting boots.

Laura Ingalls Wilder book in one hand and blanket dragging from the other, I told my mom I was going to read in the grass. “Haven’t you already read that one?” she asked. “Not outside, no,” I said racing through the screen door. She smiled, seeming to understand my youthful summer logic. 

I learned quite early on that the words took on new meaning outside. Let loose in the warm air, they wiggled like white winter toes set free. Bouncing in breezes. Flapping with wings. It seemed to me that I was returning the favors given by each book read in the trappings of the cold. Housed in the wintertime, they allowed me to climb inside each page. To travel without fear of inclement weather. So on these sun-filled days, it seemed only right that I would let those same words out. And the language they took on was magical. The voice of freedom. Maybe all things (and mostly people) tell a better story without restraints. 

Yesterday I finished reading the book Flâneuse,by Lauren Elkin, from the luxury of a lawn chair.  ‘Flâneuse [flanne-euhze], a noun, from the French, a form of flâneur [flanne-euhr], an idler, a dawdling observer. This is indeed a book made to be read outdoors. I wandered, and yes, even dawdled through each luxurious sentence.

I suppose my love, nor logic, has never lived indoors. I wish for you the same — words filled with so much meaning, they need open spaces. Lives filled with wandering paved and gravel paths. Loves so vast, so high that the birds envy and try to reach. Throw those curtains wide. Fling windows and doors. Step out into the wiggle of toes and heart. Breathe. The day is opening!