I bite my nails and bide my time and wait for you to come through the door. I am 12, in a too-tight red shirt with slash marks on my thighs. I am alone, I am a mess, I am anxious. Did I do enough? Have I made my point?
I twirl my hair and sigh and ask you please to wait- I am the one that you adore. I am 13 in the backseat of a car, my innocence is on the table. I am ignored, I am defeated, I am deflated. Have you had your way yet? Is there something more you'd like?
I kick my feet and scream my haunts and wait for you to tie me to the floor. I am 14, in a fit of rage and throwing my mattress across the room. I am awakened, I am astonished, I am ablaze. Have you had your fill yet? Must you have my brain?
I beat my head and make up lies and know that I am all that you deplore. I am 15, in the depths and crevices of my soul, tar fills my bloodstream and spreads. I am toxic, I am vile, I am retching. Who the fuck do you think you are? My mother?
I ball my fists and earn my points and wait for you to let me go explore. I am 16, in a cornfield and a cage, my every move is documented for your files. I am repressed, I am corrected, I am analyzed. How does that make you feel? Where is your voice?
I wipe my eyes and shake your hand, but I can't hear I'm sorry anymore. I am 17, in a blue dress and heels, receiving hollow words of comfort for my loss. I am extinguished, I am expired, I am tired. Is he in a better place? How do I get there?
I find my legs and stand my ground and wait for my boat to leave this shore. I am 18, in an apron and play clothes, cleaning up after someone else's family mess. I am overworked, I am stressed, I am poor. Is this the life I want? Can I get away?
I lift my voice and cock my head and wait for no man- instead, I soar. I am 19, in my skin and first-day outfit, a touch of lipstick and I set out to meet the world. I am independent, I am proud, I am free. Who could hinder me? Who would dare to try?
Believe it or not, I've started to read the Bible again. Not because I'm rethinking my beliefs, quite the contrary. I'm re-reading the Bible in order to strip from it all the wisdom I can while leaving behind all the dogma and interpretation. I'm seeing verses with fresh, unaltered eyes and realizing the Bible for what it is: an extraordinary book of fables. It's incredible how many deities have the same back story- miraculous birth, exile to a different country due to a threat from the monarchy, etc. I'm able to appreciate Jesus the man, not the Christ, in ways I've never been able to. I love Jesus more now that I'm able to hear the wisdom of his words without them being tainted by the idea of divinity. Jesus the man preached about nobility, communing with nature, accepting all people in all walks of life, loving all people not because of their actions but because of their life. Like this ridiculous 'love the sinner, hate the sin' idea. It saddens me to know that Christianity has twisted the very essence of his message and made it into a force of evil in the world. And I know this might offend some of my Christian friends, but it shouldn't. None of my Christian friends are evil, just misguided. That's my opinion, anyway. It's also Jesus's, look here: "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men..'" Matthew 15:8-9
He's talking about the Pharisee's here, those who honor their traditions instead of the commandments of God. Eerily similar to our situations today: we stack up small handfuls of verses condemning homosexuality and ignore MOUNTAINS of verses about tolerance and equality and kindness. "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." Romans 2:1
The passage then goes on to explain that those who live under the law and break it at the same time can't possibly be living under the law. Those who profess to know Jesus and have any hatred or stubbornness in accepting others are living hypocritically. They aren't really living under Jesus's laws, the laws of life. "Piously, you strain a gnat from your wine and proceed to swallow a camel." Matthew 23:24. Religion seeks to strain the gnats (homosexuality, abortion, etc.) while ignoring the camels (war, hunger, poverty, etc.) Jesus really is a light unto the world. He tells mankind how to live simply, naturally, and peacefully. If only centuries and centuries of men hadn't perverted his words! Jesus himself tells us to throw away the trappings of societal life and live free of worry and doubt. He tells us to go back to the land, allow ourselves to be a people who fully rely on God, the universal driving force of life. "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself." Matthew 6:34. It's incredible. Here I am, philosophizing about life and trying to find the answers when this incredibly wise man has already thought about all of this. Smart guy, that Jesus. I mean, I don't worship him and I certainly don't base my life off of his words and ONLY his, but he had his head on straight.
Sometimes you just feel low. Sometimes you take a slow, even breath and find that the rasping inside of you's death and then you just sit with your fit and equip yourself for restitution, destitution makes us sorry.
Sometimes you just feel spite. Bitter excuses contrite like confession, my worldly possessions are yours for the taking, you're making me sick with your shtick. Cut it out! Scream and shout, you're not my mother.
Sometimes you just feel shame. Twisting the sound of your name til it stings with the ring of a thing that is broken and mangled and tangled with feelings of derision. Please trust my decisions and know that I'm all right.
Sometimes you just feel pain. When there's nothing to gain then there's something to lose, these shoes don't fit. Two left feet, but I'm sweet and I'm trying to change and be tough, if not quite good enough.
I was caught without an umbrella when the rains came, so naturally I was swept off to Sea and never heard from again. I imagine it pained my parents for a while, wondering where I'd gotten off to. Eventually, the police would come to the conclusion that I'd been kidnapped and my parents would be mollified. My sister never believed I'd been taken, though, and in the end that might have been my salvation. My sister liked to braid her long blonde hair into ponytails and swish them in my face when I annoyed her. My sister liked pea green soup. My sister had more curiosity than she knew what to do with, and when she finally got wind of Things, she packed up her trunk and came after the rains and me, but that's another story.
The Sea is a very calming place. It isn't the Baltic or the Mediterranean or any place of the World, but it is wet and it is large and it is easy to get lost. I must have spent three days on the Sea before I bumped into anything of Consequence. The first Consequence I bumped into was stranded on an iceberg in the Sea, galumphing walrus tears into the great wetness about him. "Why are you crying?" I asked, unsure if the Consequence could understand my speech. But sure enough, the Consequence cocked his head and bristled his great whiskers and stared into my eyes like he was searching for the question I should have asked him instead. As if I had lost a great opportunity, he lowered his head and shuddered his body off the boulder of ice into the water. The shine of oil-slick crested his thick back as he propelled himself into the darkness of movement. He puttered out and formed a wide circle, then turned around and stopped in front of me. I didn't imagine I would be offered a more clear invitation, so I waded into the greasy water and threw myself onto the wide, pitted, scarred expanse of his body. I wondered if he would take me back to the World, but our heads dipped under the water and I found myself breathing in oxygen through a small space behind my eyes.
'Should have' is an illusion. 'Should have' implies that there was ever going to be another universe where the decision you made is anything other than the one you made. 'Should have' implies that there is any more point in asking what to do. 'Should have' implies that 'what is' is less than what it has turned out to be. And then there's the business of how 'what is' came to be. Nothing is fundamentally everything and everyone is nothing? Everyone is something? Something is everything? All things are everything and everything is wonderful? How many somes and things and everys and ones are there? How many different combinations? We are all anything when we have something. We are all nothing and we mean everything to anyone. We are all something to someone. We are all everything to someone. We are all nothing to someone. No one is everything to everyone. Where does it stop? How many ideas, how many philosophies, how many trial-and-error processes does it take to stop asking questions? Even if I am everything to someone or nothing to anyone, it doesn't have any effect on 'what is'. Then there's the great 'what's next?' That one is my favorite. This world, this intricate world teeming with life and beauty and enjoyment and green trees and pomegranates and ribbons and music and seahorses falls short of the scope of our incredible human perception and we stare at the sky. Everyone I ask has an opinion on 'what's next?' but I am hard pressed to find someone who actually knows what they're doing with their life. THEIR LIFE. Lives are spent wasting away after paper representations of wealth and futility. Lives are spent chasing youth, beauty, adventure, excitement. Children these days are born with their eyes firmly shut and truth ferreted away with as little ceremony as a smack on the ass.
If I were ever to have children, I wouldn't teach them the value of the dollar or how to please a man in the sky with a giant book to record all the things we do wrong. I wouldn't teach them that people are inherently evil or stupid or imperfect. I would teach them that all is as it is, and that there is no higher comfort than that. With faulty expectations, this place can make cynics of us all.
When the world is too loud and my head can't make sense of it, I go into my bathroom and close the door. Swiftly, I undress and run a very hot bath- as hot as my skin can manage. Naked, I scour my body with acidic standards. When I've stared my face into an unrecognizable shape, I flick off the lights and sink into scalding oblivion. Slowly, toe by toe, I lower myself into the inhumane temperature and feel my muscles melt. Tendons turn jelly, bones heat up and nerves release comforting waves of tingling coercion. Thighs, hips, belly, breasts, shoulders, head, ears, eyes. Water closes over my body like a floating coffin. The thickness rests in my ears and silence in my eyes draws attention to my breath. I listen to my heartbeat and lay still.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.
If I wait long enough, cracks of light seam the darkness of my solitude and I am stepping through the doorway of velvet imagination. My vision fractures into prisms and the whole of light is exposed for the colorful amalgam it is. The world is slow and hazy like a Sunday afternoon. My heartbeat ticks on my sleeve keeping metronomic watch. I am too big for myself and my soul squeezes through my fingers. Inner quiet houses me, keeps me in place and intact and away from extraneous bother. My brain is engorged and clatters around my skull, what a headache.