It was surrender.
It was like giving way to possession. Giving way to a higher power. Allowing a spiritual force far greater than myself take control and command me.
He shrugged it off like a high school fantasy. But what did he know?
I was sunk.
Burned with holy fire.
And he could only dream it was just about him.
If it brings you peace, habibi, dream on.
It was as if I were staring at shattered glass. Every piece reflected a different angle of the same reality, but no matter how many I examined nothing could help me put them back together into something whole or conclusive.
But sometimes the truth is like that. Shattered, varied and impossible to grasp, at least not without cutting yourself.
And compounding in on me were the countless reminders that I would never be good enough. Too talkative, too open, too bold.
“I’d like to point out that your age gap will be a disadvantage. It makes it difficult to relate.”
“She’s like you, but she doesn’t get overly excited about things.”
“What with the age gap and. . .”
“I know a heck of a lot more than you do. It’s no offense to you, but it’s just the way it is because I am older.”
“You need to realize he’s older than you and therefore his wisdom is much deeper than yours.”
“Ah yes, he knows that wisdom comes with age.”
“When you get older you’ll realize. . .”
“Have you ever considered someone your age?”
As if my age kept me from seeing right through them.
As if they really believed they were more mature.
As if age were a garuntee of wisdom.
Because youth is blindness. Because youth means naïveté.
Because age is equal to worthiness.
An insult you will never grow out of, because you will always be younger than its giver.
Sometimes I believe that love is the most bitter poison of all. Something you cannot run from, cannot kill, cannot drown out. It promises all the power to heal. Yes, it has that. But will it make good on its word?
Hope. The bitter thorn in the flesh.
Love is unforgiving. No amount of reason can dismiss it. No logic can sway it. No record of the pain it has caused can dissuade it. No. It stands. Brutal. Cold. Absolute.
In rejection it will not let go. And in death it is only hardened, more resolute than ever it was in life.
And there you were, at the corner table of the bar, watching. Maybe that was the writer in you, clinging to the outskirts, lurking in the shadows. And you watched me.
“If it is possible, let this cup be taken from me.”
You watched and you danced and you asked me to dance, but you never asked me into your life.
“Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
And yet how could you know that even your gaze was more than I could bear? Even just your presence enough to shatter me.
“Let this cup pass from me.”
And there I was undone by only the look in your eyes. And nothing in me is the same. Nothing in me can ever be the same. I am undone.
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
And there you are still, in the shadows, at that corner table, watching.
“Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth.”
1 Samuel 3
It was like a recurring dream. I walked in, confident, a noir picture in my classic attire. I had to look self-assured and what says that better than a trench coat and red lipstick. But then he was always there, in the corner, already drunk. And no matter how precisely I order that drink, no matter how calmly I walk across that room, my heart is pounding in my ears. So many words caught in my throat.
It’s over. He’s scum. He left. He pushed you away, told you he was tired of hearing your sorrows, treated you like trash. Why care?
But then, why did I ever care? Even before it happened, it’s not like he was one to accept help. I liked to tell myself he’d pushed me away in grief, but was that the truth? Or was it that he’d never let anyone in? Ever.
People say having a compassionate heart is a gift. But why did my heart have compassion for someone so cruel, for someone determined never to accept my help? Why the hell did I care? It had all started from a dream anyway.
No, not the hopeful kind you have when your mind wanders. No, the kind you wake up from in a cold sweat with your heart racing. The kind where something terrible has happened and he’s there at your door and can’t even speak.
When it actually did happen I wondered if he’d show up, staggering, drunk on the door step.
And now here I am, stuck in this endless repeat of a scene. He’s in the corner drinking. He doesn’t need me. He doesn’t need my help. And I’ve moved on. Hope for better things. Go after better things. But my heart is still in my throat and pounding in my ears.
I could feel my blood pounding in my ears.
“I just want you to think about it.”
I could hear her talking, but all I could do was grip the counter and will myself not to snap.
“We’re not going to talk about it.”
I managed to speak without shouting. The blood was pounding in my throat. I’d never been able to feel where the blood vessels were before.
“I don’t understand why we can’t even discuss it.”
It was all waking up again. The memories flashing. My brother yanking the Legos out of my hands. His grasp was violent. I screamed. My dad grabbed me by the arm and began dragging me out of the room.
“You whining brat! You just scream and carry on!”
“But it wasn’t her fault!” I remember my sister screaming in my defense.
I was innocent. It didn’t matter. It never mattered with him. I knew there wasn’t a chance. There was never a chance of him calming down. He drug me out of the room. He always drug me by the wrist, once even lifted me off the ground. He was huge and I was three years old.
You grow up and sometimes you make amends. You don’t ever forget the beatings. You just try your best not to think about them, because when you do you start to remember more of them and more.
“I don’t understand why you can’t talk about it.”
Her voice was distant. The last time my heart had beaten like this I was yelling at him. It had been years.
She didn’t know what she was doing. She hadn’t meant to trigger it. But she had.
It was just a night out. It was just another formal event. Hundreds of others would be laughing, talking, dancing. Did any of them feel that trepidation in their blood?
That clenching of muscles and nerves.
I hung back against the low brick wall in the garden. Already, clusters of people had gathered about the hotel entrance. Smoke and laughter filled the air, accompanied by bits of song. My dress caught against the coarse texture of the wall, as if expressing my reluctance to go forward.
Hide. Stay where it is safe. Stay in the quiet. He will not find you here.
But even if I hid, life would happen without me. Life would even find me in the darkness of that courtyard garden. Even if I hid, he would still exist. He would still be dancing, drinking, laughing.
My anonymity in the darkness would not save me.
I pulled my skirt off of its cold rough fortress. Forward. It was just another night out. No need to over dramatize. No need to contemplate that destiny would make or break me the minute we came face to face. Destiny doesn’t stop when you’d rather not participate. Even your choice to be passive is an action, because you chose.
Go on. Join the fray. You’ll kill them all in that dress.
It’s just another night out.
And as if out of no where everything was shutting down.
I was again that child in the darkness, afraid of the void in every shadow. It had been months now since the deaths and I’d been coping.
I’d finally come out of my cave, felt like the world could live again. That I could be a part of it again. Seen beauty in the rising sun.
And now. Now.
Again I was a canoe in the middle of the sea. No land in sight. And who could say what slightest turbulence could send me under.
The plunge. The gulping. The cold. The dark.
And the knowledge. The knowledge I’d learned at age ten. Summer camp. Achievement awards.
You can’t deep water rescue a canoe without lifting it on top of another boat.
And this is what is killing me: that I cannot share love with the one I love. That the love I have can only cause hurt. That grief can kill affection. That grief can kill you while you are still alive.