Jodi Hills

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


Because the sun!

Maybe it was because of what they called it – the deep end – that it seemed so ominous. They roped it off with a bright red and white warning. We weren’t even allowed in until we had passed a certain level of swimming lessons. Which was funny, because I, we, had been swimming out to the diving towers for several years already. A depth we didn’t know, or think to ask. 

And I suppose that’s what made it easier. We only thought about the tower. We had a goal, and nothing was going to stop us. Had we taken the time to think of what lurked below, deep in the darkened waters, maybe we wouldn’t have gone. But we thought about the sun. The sun that baked our shoulders on the diving platform. The figurative and literal height of summer friendships. There was nothing we wouldn’t have done to reach it.

I mention it only to remind myself. Of how to look at things. With fear, or with wonder. The choice of wonder has opened a sea of words. Of art. Of love. Sure, I trip and stumble and even temporarily sink into the unknown, but I will myself daily to keep kicking and thrashing. Raising my head above the murk. Reaching and climbing the next tower. Because the sun! 

Some will laugh when I say that arriving in France, I was actually surprised as we drove from the airport — all the billboards in French. The radio in French. They didn’t speak English. I was already in love, and hadn’t thought to ask. Are there a million things to worry about? Sure. Is the tower slippery? Yes. But the sun is so warm on my shoulders. I can’t help but wonder. I keep climbing.

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Pink tornado.

I have sat cross legged on cement basement floors many times, waiting for a tornado.  I have heard sirens. Nestled against transistor radios. Imagining flying cows and houses. Everything in black and white. Waiting for the technicolor of the Wizard of Oz’s ending. Sweaty hands folded, I stayed until given the all-clear. Then climbed the stairs to blue skies. 

I never saw one – a tornado – until last night. It was pink. In my dreams. It sped toward the house. Terrifying, but almost beautiful. In full color, right from the start. I waited in the corner. Holding my breath. Wanting to close my eyes… watching. A pink blur passed by the house. I survived.

In moments of imagining the worst, I have been my own tornado. The wind twirling and blowing in my chest. It’s too full. Too much air. I can’t breathe. I blow and I blow, praying to slow it all down. Breathe. Just breathe. Praying for the all-clear. Please give me the all-clear. Eventually I give it to myself. I suppose Glenda was right — “You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”

So I learn again and again. To just breathe. To be patient with myself — amid the winds of change. Within my heart’s tornado — it’s almost beautiful — it IS beautiful! I breathe, and climb the stairs.