My Time in the Well
I am supposed to be happy. They tell me this. I did everything they told me to. I ran from block to block, forming concentric circles somehow. When I look above me, I see a sliver of light, and it guides me, almost to a higher understanding.
Sometimes people tell me I’m smart, an emphatic punctuation to my perception that the rest of my life experience is a joke. I am waiting for validation. It escapes me; I can report that validation comes from no one except yourself. You can wait all day. I’ve tried.
When you’ve lived 40 or 50 years, long enough to be a grandmother or grandfather, you should have wisdom. You should have tools. Instead, in my case, you have longing and dread. You remember your ancestors, and the torture they wove together, trying to warm themselves with a shred of dignity. You dance to that. You know that reality.
If you’ve lived long enough not to die, the prize is experiencing life beyond the confines of youth and inexperience. Instead, you find a maze. A labyrinth of all the choices you’ve evaded all your life. Choose a path. I’m sure it will be fine, you are told. But no, instead, it’s more marketing, more sales, target focus groups. I am a woman, ages 25-44, I long to be the “girl of my dreams,” in the eyes of marketers.
Actually, I am the young girl you first kissed, awkwardly, when you were fourteen. You thought I was the pinnacle of everything you could ever ask for, but I was merely running from an unloving household and an unhappy state of being you could never anticipate. I don’t blame you. I don’t blame me, either.
I had my radio on, it played mindlessly whatever Top 40 hits the MSM permitted to play. I sat beside it and listened, hoping for a truth, hoping for a reality that resonated with my being. Mostly, I waited.
I Had a Husband
I had a husband. He was content to place me on a space beyond the street, where I was conveniently from reach. He thought I would never tell, but I am that kind of woman that does tell. I enjoy exposing the darkness to the light; it fills me with a peace and an understanding and a purpose in this world he could never anticipate. He thought I was present for cleaning and cooking. He was wrong.
Now, I walk beyond him and his memories and his grievances. He has many; he would tell you, if you wished to hear, but likely you would walk away. It is pitiable to hear a seemingly strong man wail and gnash his teeth while the wind howls. You would rather burrow under a mountain of blankets. I would join you.
Instead, I sing my own songs. It seems to be my destiny, to sing my own songs. Nothing wrong with that, until they tell you to stop.
I Am Not Afraid
During the height of the Cold War, Pope John Paul II exhorted his Polish masses, “Do Not be Afraid.” And he was right. A man cloaked with Power, the Power of the Church, the Power of a proud Slovak culture, struck down and with authority, told the populace, “Do Not Be Afraid.”
They were still afraid. And, they still are. Why not? There is much to be afraid of, yet there is much to merely giggle about. No man, no matter how strong, charismatic, belligerent, can convince anyone to abandon fear.
Fear is useless, but it is still a comforter, a soothing blanket to buffet the unruliness of human existence. We know it as we know laughter, as we know love. We know fear. And it rules us, and it allows us to conduct our lives in an orderly fashion. Shall it forever reign?
You are surreal. Your eyes are amazing. They penetrate and touch me with love. I reach out to you. That is the hardest act, to reach my hands out and ask you to grasp mine, which you do, hesitating, remembering the pain of your parents and forebears, you wish to tell me, there is no hope beyond these firm, staid lines, a sort of morality that forbids your joy.
I was dispatched into this world from a similar dysfunction, if only to touch you for a minute, reassure your dreams aren’t foolish, and that my eyes aren’t marbles, but real cells, pulsating, shining, reaching, hoping for a true stare, a life I can hold and recognize.