A sparkling jewel on the hill. Scores of windows, draped in velvet and gold, tiny portals to the magic within. Glowing warmth, welcome and refuge to all.
The white fortress–that’s how it was, as I remember it.
This is how it is–the haunted ruin, as I see it.
Darkness and gloom stretch for miles. Acres of fields and garden overgrown. Mother Nature and the bayou, once again victorious.
I brush away dust and mud to reveal what remains of our grand foyer. A lonely tribute to the the golden age of a Duke and his court.
Countless footsteps, the dizzying waltz, the bold brass band and the tragedy of fire and spilled blood. The old tiles wear history well–still defiant and gleaming after all these years.
Handcrafted in marble and gilded in gold. One simple letter.
The thunder beneath your feet? The sizzle up your spine?
Centuries-old legend scribed by authors, glorified by film makers, embellished in the endless imagination of dreamers–yet faced with proof–all ignore it.
The hiss in the alley, the growl ’round the corner?
Look deep in your liquor, stare hard at your lover, believe what keeps you sane but the answer is simple.
I’m here, I’m home. It was me.
Honor for a fallen soldier, mourning for a beloved ancestor, or tribute to lost lover?
Tonight, a solitary bloom marked the site of a summit. Friends and allies, separated for far too long, reunited in candlelight and magic behind these ancient walls.
From the top of the world to the lowest depths of hell.
Both families–each dynasties in their own right and polar opposites linked for eternity. Mismatched souls united by blood and tragedy, wielding power reserved for miraculous survivors.
For my human family, I kept my promise of honor and legacy. For my coven, I’ve led them back from the brink of extinction. Our new foundation has roots in every corner of the earth. Combined forces, supernatural and mortal building blocks. My humble insurance plan–strength in numbers, eyes and ears in all subcultures.
The Banitierres will never be ambushed again.
I may have returned to New York City, but once the whistle blew I never looked back. Not even once.
Somewhere I still have it, that crumpled ticket with the faded black ink, passage booked to another world. My prayers and dreams gambled on big wheels–dirty, dusty, weary from the rails. I boarded an escape missile from the past and an escort to the future, armed only with what was on my back and in my heart.
Promised healers and saviors, I found travelers. Fools–genuine and fraudulent. Kings–noble and criminal. Some pure, others cursed to serve the devil–and the congregation in between.
On the day that was the last, forever there was darkness and all the sunlight past.
I always believed life and love followed the shape of an hourglass. Wide open with possibility at birth, difficult and treacherous in the middle and abundant with joy and freedom at the end.
As odd as it has been, my journey resembled that formula–until it didn’t. My saga, mine and my family’s, is not so simple. Right when I thought we were safe, monsters beaten and enemies destroyed, our passage burst apart. Dozens of glass tunnels branched in every direction–so very similar to the twisted, gnarled roots of an old swamp tree that disappear into black water and emerge far away, in the most unexpected locations. Their hidden time mutates–evolves their texture, color and their true essence forever.
Our hourglass must have been hand blown by an devious artist. A genius with vision, creativity and more than a trace of wicked flair.
I watch in awe as both monsters meet their match, the two rolling as one, an imperceptible tangle of mud and limbs.
Heat rises behind my skin as killer instinct floods my throat, triggered by the life and death battle waged in front of me. I crouch close to the edge of the swamp, looking–waiting for a chance to join the fight.
Come on–let me in!
The master finally grants me an opening–truly just a fraction of a second.
I glimpse the lighter coloring of the beast’s underbelly and lunge with all the power caged behind my burning, blue eyes.
I debated whether or not to attend–was the effort of braving the elements worth keeping the streak alive. I’ve had the ticket stashed in my armoire for a month. Bright sun would have been a convenient excuse but just my luck–gloom and fog have shrouded the city since dawn.
Technology can do some amazing things. Kids point in awe to banners of heroes in the Great Hall as they turn from brilliant color to the black and white images of years past. I saw Gehrig and Ruth with my own eyes. Back then the grass was just as green, the sky a more vivid blue than anyone remembers and a three-tiered ballpark truly felt like a cathedral.
The field across the street is a lovely tribute but my heart aches for the old stadium–not the 1970’s refurbished version, though that had it’s moments too. I’m thinking of the original Yankee Stadium built in 1923 on the site of an old goat pasture. If one looks closely–squints in the rain–the building is still there, veiled in layers of grey, lights twinkling, ground shaking with the roar of the crowd.
Those limestone walls screamed and fought back when they were torn apart. Their wails still echo, trapped between the rocks of the bluff and swirling currents of the river. Torture for those cursed to hear them for eternity but precious history for the handful that still survive.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Ghosts and Legends…all eyes on the prize.
The only musical instrument ever outlawed as a weapon of war.
This April evening sent the skirl of bagpipes bouncing through the canyons of Manhattan. Here in the States, pipes are played for parades, weddings and funerals but for me, the prelude of the drone sends me back to our Highland castle ruin. In those complex days of heartbreak and renaissance, my greatest savior was the evening ritual of the pipes.
Alone on a desolate moor, dressed in full clan regalia, the soloist plays from his heart, driven by the sheer power of the harmony and his love of the ancient earth. All civilization pauses, spellbound and silent in reverence. Legend tells of brave pipers that inspired soldiers to battle and instilled dread of certain death in their enemies.
I feel for a foreigner’s terror–the pipes stir my soul to the core–pulling me back to the days of the blood forest, our biggest gambles and greatest accomplishments.
My family home, my roots, our healing sanctuary.
New York City bodegas amaze me. Anything and everything you could possibly need–24/7, including a bouquet in a pinch. I can’t help but stop and enjoy fresh cut flowers spilling onto the sidewalk. The scents draw me like a magnet but nothing nearly as strong as my favorite, Night Jasmine.
Queen of the Night.
The call of the elusive flower is one my first memories of New Orleans–that and the humidity. Scent so light it carries for blocks, but so heavy it lingers in the back of my throat where I can taste it for hours.
I’m sure my private garden at home has run wild–again–the fragrance must be overwhelming. That’s the thing about Jasmine–you can walk by it all day and not smell a thing, but when it blooms, in the dead of the night, you can’t escape the magic.
Home in twenty days.