smibbo: (Default)
I was walking down the street one day, happy as a clam. My life was going pretty well; I had found an apartment all my own. My first solo living space. If you count living with parents, I had never once in my life lived alone so this was indeed a momentous achievement. I had become employed recently as well. I was finally going to be a waitress. Having worked in kitchens for the past five years I was itching to try out the one position in the whole restaurant that is social. I would finally be smiling at people, running back and forth, using my charm and maybe making friends. I had a new boyfriend. We had met on the street one day while I was walking about. He asked me a question (I don’t recall what) and the next thing you know, we’re laughing and holding hands and it's evening and we’re going to my (!) apartment to talk more and then its five in the morning and he’s going home and I’m all rosy just thinking about him. “I hope we kiss soon,” I keep thinking. The idea gives me delicious shivers. So of course, I try to imagine it as often as possible. I also had a new best friend. I met him through the theater company I had joined. Yet again something I stumbled upon; hanging with a homeless friend who told me I could walk him to rehearsal and then I’m talking to the director and then I’m giving an improv performance and then I’m having a part written around me and my abilities and then I’ve inherited a gaggle of new friends and then I’m going to an after-show party and then I’m walking drunkenly back home with a great guy who figures out we live down the street from each other and then we find an old mail cart and take turns riding in it all the way to our block and then its morning and he’s writing down my address and phone number and then we’re hugging and I know this man is going to be my best friend forever no matter what happens.

Also, it must be said, it was a GORGEOUS day. Living in the college area of town meant grass and trees and art and beauty everywhere. I could become a ballerina dancing through all the joy I had in me. I felt it in the way I breathed, even. The very air was clean and enriching.

I was twenty years old. I had moved to a wholly new state and was living on my own, finally. Life was definitely giving me smiles.

As I walked down the street, humming and smiling and occasionally imagining kissing my boyfriend, I looked down for a half-breath and something flashed by in my field. I was moving at a brisk pace so it was several steps before I even slowed.

“there was a yellow rose on the sidewalk,” I realized, “a beautiful yellow rose lying alone on an empty sidewalk”

I stopped.
“what an odd thing to find,” I thought, “a lone piece of transported loveliness left behind?”
I turned around.
“why would a single yellow rose be lying on the sidewalk?” I wondered.

Red Roses are given and received as a token of love. Yellow roses, though, that complicates things. Yellow roses are unusual enough that I couldn’t be sure they would be given only in love. Perhaps appreciation? Respect for the dead? There was a graveyard within a half mile of me, that was true. But still, a *single* yellow rose? and nothing else?
My eyes hit the ground, sweeping side to side as I walked, slowly because I didn’t want to step on it, crush it, ruin any of the story that would be lying there with that flower. And there was a story, of that I was certain. I had to have that story. Stories, for me, were food, and I was hungry. I knew there would be some way of finding the story in that lone yellow rose. Whoever left it there couldn't have done so on purpose. I needed to see the rose as it lay, though, to see it in its original state of regret.

What was it?
Tossed aside in anger? A belligerent dare to "make amends with words not petty objects!"
A rejected offering? An accusing finger pointing toward the broken heart for all the world to see. "I cannot take this any more than I can take your heart"
Dropped unknowingly? A tear on the face of one who swears not to grieve. "I will show my strength and bring only the finest flowers in state"

So many possible stories... I became excited at the mystery. I would stand over the rose, perhaps crouch down briefly like a detective looking for clues, and I knew I could piece something together. The validity didn’t matter so much as the story I would discover. Then I could share it. And I would bring the rose with me when I told the story... make it real in my own mind as well as my listeners... oh this was going to be wonderful... more beauty and fun in my life - as if it could possibly get any better!

I stopped finally, as I had reached the spot.
My eyes saw the rose.
Then My eyes refocused and I saw truly, with the second look. What did I see?
I saw a leaf delicately positioned across a crack in the sidewalk. Just a leaf. It did look remarkably like a yellow rose, but it wasn’t, it was a leaf.
There was no story here.

For the first time in days, I felt a little sad.

Until I got to my best friend’s apartment and told him *this* story.
“wow,” he said, “what a neat story. you should write that down”

And there was no more sadness... the rose gave me a story after all.
smibbo: (Default)
(I will only preface this by saying it isn't about being a mother, not really)

There’s a careful balance to be found in being a mother. You’re supposed to be “there” for your kids, advocate for them, show up to all the appropriate functions and of course, love them unconditionally. You’re also supposed to know your limits, define your boundaries, take care of yourself and make sure you get ‘me” time. This is while also maybe working outside the home, running a business or just navigating the social services system (sometimes all three!) Not to speak of having a partner, who often has their own issues you are supposed to address and attend to in some fashion or another.

But here, inside the quiet moments of a sleeping house, a mother sits, contemplating that balance. There’s always something left undone, always someone being a little neglected and always more you could have done. You have to let that kind of perfectionism go, at some point. Especially when you have more than one child. Especially when you have a child with special needs. Gawd forbid more than one child with special needs.

So over time, she slowly unravels her childhood dream of perfect happiness. Unfurling the strands of that glossy naivetee like a delicate windchime, she examines her “foregone” conclusions, her “natural” expectations. Slowly, she unwinds the vision of the life she thought she’d have and snips the edges away, making it smaller, simpler, more manageable.

“moments like these,” she thinks, “make everything seem to fall in place. All my problems, worries and anxieties sort of shrink down and turn into little eggs that I can put in the basket any way I like.”
The image of her “basket of issues” is pleasing. She gets up and goes to the kitchen for a moment. Not because she wants anything, but from habit. The kitchen, far from being the place of traditional oppression was always her pedestal of achievement. Over fifteen years working in restaurants meant the kitchen was more familiar and soothing than any other room in the house, even the bedroom. The kitchen hums to her in a sotto voce of harmony; together we work, it murmurs, and together we create.
“and together we care” she finishes the thought. The basket in her mind shifts again, shrinking the eggs just a little more. She stops at the counter and leans against it, staring obliquely at the empty coffee pot. Clean lines of steel, her favorite kitchen design, met with black functional edges, the coffee pot seems to also hum to her. “together we invigorate, together we motivate”
“and together we move” she finishes the thought, absently tracing her finger lightly up her arm.
She feels a tiny protuberance on her skin and everything is turned upside down. The sweet heady moment evaporates into irritation and anxiety. All the relaxed, tranquility disappears in the face of this unwanted anomaly.
Rushing into the bathroom, she flicks on the overhead and picks up her magnifying mirror. Rubbing her hand along the previous path, she finds the offending blotch and zeroes her mirror on it. It is indeed a growth along her skin; an unwelcome mountain amongst a desert of smoothness.
Her heart begins to pound, her blood rushes loudly in her head and her throat nearly closes up. A dull roar of indignation begins, so familiar to her that she could practically chart it on a musical bar. The cavalcade of voices swoops in next, berating her with nonsense syllables that hurt nonetheless.
She knows what is happening. Feels all the warning signs. Knows every minuscule change within her psyche. Reflexively, she also notes the detachment that takes hold. The “I” that stood so serenely in the kitchen and felt peaceful and philosophical about her own life is slammed to the side of her mind - allowed only to watch and perhaps comment, but affect nothing that comes next.

She watches her own arm reach out, “no no don’t, please dont” her mind whispers, barely heard among the cacaphony of her survival self, “do not do this, you know you will regret it, please do not do this”
She watches her hand as it hovers over the instruments of shame, some distant part of her brain deciding which implement will suffice this time. Tweezers? Sewing pin? Safety pin? should we go to the kitchen and look for the -
“NO” her mind manages to scream above the crowd, “we got rid of that. it doesn’t exist anymore. there are none of them anywhere in this house. you cannot, you will not”
The primal tide turns away a tad. So alright, no exacto, no razor.
The hand reaches out again, “betrayer! betrayer!” screams the mind, “I tell you stop, why won’t you listen?!” and then comes back empty.
So.
That’s how it is.
Fingernails will do.
A small shudder passes through first. a tiny rebellion from inside. But the shudder is all that is allowed before the process begins.

Scrape. Scrape. Dig. Dig. Turn slightly and try slicing underneath. We are very adept at this operation. We have all the time in the world to get it “right” too.
Squeeze. Knead. Twist sideways and dig some more. Oh yes, we are good at this.

Blood seeps out, the hallmark of the cutter, but to her, only a sideline annoyance. A tiny dot at first and with each dig, each slice, each new attempt to make the offending bump leave her skin the wound opens more. She ignores it except for an occasional lick to see better.
“stop, please stop,” the same voice rises up tiny and fearful, “look at yourself, look what you are doing. please stop. everyone will know”
But instead of a voice answering it, there is only the same urgent feeling. The same noisy push toward more blood, more slicing, more digging. The desperate notion that there is an invader, a hideous ugly invader on her body does not quell, even when she is sure the bump is long gone.
Scrape. Dig.
“please, I beg of you, stop. you are hurting yourself and you will cry later. you can stop, you really really can”
Shut up, caring loving mind. You don’t understand; you don’t feel the horrendous pull within that happens when the body is tainted. You can’t imagine how horrific it is to spend even a moment knowing there is a imperfection. It pulls and pulls until the heart is writhing in agony and the only thing that will make it stop is to dig out the stain, kill the invader, slice open the body and take out that which has hurt it. So shut up. When you figure out how to break the tether of fear, then we will listen. Until that time, you be quiet.

Each pass by her nail is followed by a general sweep over the surface to see if the bump is no longer felt. Her fingertips, so sensitive she once was called “Princess Pea” by a lover during a strange party game, so sensitive that she hated gloves, so sensitive that she could feel a pimple before it ever emerged from her skin, her fingertips glide sweetly over the entirety of her upper arm. Even willing it to stay within the confines of this one ridiculous bump does not work; the fingertips know. They know there is always another bump, another invader, another taint to find. Like her magnifying mirror, her fingertips would find any unwanted issue and hone in on it with laser precision. She hates her fingertips.

Eventually, she cannot feel any bump whatsoever. She pinches a generous portion of the wound and scrutinizes it carefully. She sees no tiny white dot in it anywhere. This means the bump will not come back. She squeezes and digs one more time. Her fingers slide over the blood, staining her nails but there is nothing left to gouge. There is a slippery mess on her arm easily cleaned with alcohol, and a dry cotton ball pressed to staunch the bleeding.

She doesn’t look in the regular mirror once she’s cleaned up. She knows what will happen tomorrow; she’ll catch sight of her wound in passing and be astounded, yet again, at how much damage she did in such a short time. There’s no point in thinking about it though.

The alarm is quiet, the pull is slack, the tether is flung down. She knows its still there, inside of her, waiting to spring out. For the next few days she will do many things to circumvent her own crazed brain; wash constantly, use lotion repeatedly, avoid mirrors, not touch her own skin, and if all else failed; put on make-up. Sometimes, if she couldn’t see it she wouldn’t try to touch it.

But she also knew it didn’t matter. Either she’d be sated for a while and allowed to heal or everything was about to get much worse and she’d be walking around looking like she had a pox.
In the meantime, there was nothing to be done except try to keep going. Maybe avoid friends for a few days (don’t let them see, don’t let them know, don’t disappoint them again) or only go outside with heavy concealer. Maybe, just try to ignore it....
After all, there are so many things to worry about, perhaps this one thing could be just... forgotten.
smibbo: (Default)
I loved you.
I had you in me, somehow. A bit of awakening that I couldn't understand on my own, but it was there, swimming inside me. A certainty, a knowledge without explanation, that here was someone, a person, a presence that I needed to be involved with. An experience I needed to have.
You were an opening to me. A beginning, a belief that I wanted to have but had not been able to reach before. I felt your presence stir me. That was what happened when I met you. Not "love at first sight" as they say because it wasn't love at all, what I felt, when I met you. It was curiosity. It was acceptance. I knew we had to intertwine. I didn't care about love or lust or "forever", I just knew a door opened and I should walk through it.

I loved you.
I kept seeing more and more ahead of me with you. You became something to hold onto, look forward to, and be happy for. The experience of "us" grew real and comforting and stretched my thoughts into hopes. My feelings blended with my vision. The experience became essential to my life. I didn't care about disappointment or fear or "security", I just knew life was unfolding and I should pay attention to it.

I loved you.
I gave in, let go, opened up, laid bare and revealed myself, all of myself, to you. It was a gift but it cost so much. I rationalized, debated and agonized over where we were going but I could no more refuse the future than I could refuse to feel. I didn't care about approval, or pride, or "sanctity", I just knew joy beckoned and I should dance my way towards it.

I loved you.
In all that time, my lover, you felt things and saw things that complemented me. You shared yourself with me. You gave yourself to me. Always, though, with reservation. Always with secrets and judgements and diversions to keep me away from the child who shakes inside of you.

My lover, how could you? How could you bring to the stream of renewal and leave me so thirsty? I watched your eyes, when you comforted me, and I saw your veil, your screen, your walls. I saw and I knew what I had bargained into, even as I had believed we waltzed together. Yet you never danced with me, my lover, you only held my hand as I twirled and smiled at my happiness, while your eyes betrayed your fear.

I loved you.
So what did you think of that, my lover? Did you wonder at the fullness of my joy as a child wonders at a drunken revelry? You jumped so cleanly, my lover, from rapture to dismay. You leapt with grace but I thought I saw the footprints you left behind in the dirt of my life. Embedded forever, I thought, with sorrow and regret, but left behind on purpose, to remind me of my loss.

I loved you, but if you ever loved me, I'll never know for sure.
For the strands you wove within my heart were so much of my own making, I am not sure I ever even knew you. I think it was really me all along.

I wish I knew where you were in all that time. It wasn't here.
smibbo: (Default)
When I was a little girl, I used to draw and write stories. I think I wrote my first "real" story when I was about seven years old. I got an idea in my head and persuaded my mother to type while I dictated. It was called "The Bus Driver's Adventures". Looking back on it, it was not very good but then again, I was only seven years old. Then, as now, I had difficulty bringing it to a close. I think I just abandoned the storyline after about four chapters and began other projects. I was very project-oriented as a child, come to think of it... I can recall building Radio Shack kids' science kits (a radio, a generator, an electro-magnet), trying to use all the legoes to make a city, sewing and knitting for my doll-house (more fascinated with the house than actually playing with the dolls themselves). Miniatures especially entranced me. I would spend hours putting things in the dollhouse and then close it up and look through the windows. I was somewhat obsessed with making things "realistic". I collected stuffed animals but I only liked animals that looked "real" - no pink bunnies or blue doggies for me!
But mostly, I made up stories. Once I learned to write, I wrote stories all the time. I tried to draw pictures to go along with my stories but my impatience with my own lack-of-talent and technical ineptness often made me ask my best friend Jill to do the drawings for me (she was extremely gifted).
I wrote a lot of wacky stuff back then, usually because my wackiness was what got the rave reviews. It was easy for me to begin a tale and wind it all over the map of the imagination before bringing it to a bizarre ending. I discovered that bizarre endings were not only popular, they often solved the problem of how to finish off a tale that actually has no moral tale or "message". My protagonists had a habit of turning into other creatures (or other genders!) and flying off to enjoy other (untold) adventures elsewhere. Elsewise, they ended up marrying someone and living "happily ever after"

You see, I grew up with tons of fairy tales told to me all the time. The hidden part of me that was naiive and romantic, clearly showed whenever I told a story. It also showed in my drawings. Psychiatrists and psychologists believe that children tell their innermost feelings through their drawing and imaginative play. If that's so, then apparently I had a secret deep longing to be a princess. Despite my tomboy nature, I obviously coveted long beautiful dresses and waited to someday meet my prince (or princess) who would wisk me away to an imposing castle where we would live happily ever after.
On the other hand, if drawings and imaginative play show what lies deep within the heart of a child, I must have had a serious dichotomy going on. Because the other half of my imagination was one of swashbuckling and heroism. Just as I might tell a tale of a princess who turned into a snake before meeting and marrying her alligator prince who later turns into a princess so they can get married under the lake, I would weave a story of being a pirate who one day decides to go on land and save the hapless old man from the fierce dragon who has put a spell on the old man because he's really a handsome prince in disguise and now they can both jump on the back of a turtle and fly up to the moon to get married and live happily ever after.

I dreamed of being a princess and being saved. I dreamed of being a pirate and saving a princess.

(Good gravy, I've been bi-trans-gender-sexual since I was a child!)

What did you used to imagine?
smibbo: (Default)
(overheard at [livejournal.com profile] wolven's party the other night)

"and then I have to ask myself, why is there always a giant bag of cheese trying to kill me?"
(man listening nods understandingly)

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