Perhaps I have confused the idea of being diplomatic and deferential to friends and neighbors with being a cowed, fearful, woman who can’t take the push back in the face of conversational discourse. I kept my comments to myself because I didn’t want to start a fire and burn down the neighborhood. I hate disharmony, chaos, and hard feelings, and chose to be kind to everyone in the face of what might be a terrible future. I saw this quotation and it really hit me today. I have exchanged what I believed was being diplomatic and decent for keeping quiet and not expressing my feelings because it might hurt somebody’s feelings. Well what about my own? They’re not worried about hurting mine. I have a right to speak my mind, just like everyone else, though I restrict that right to discussing facts instead of reacting to fake news, hate trolls, and memes. Time to stop my silence right now, because I am not being my true, authentic self if I keep it in the dark. Wish me luck. This tape will self destruct in five seconds, or two minutes to midnight. Either way.. what’s the point of having a life if I’m not true to it?
Upon my marathon drive and midnight return from New York, I discovered I had no internet connection. I was too tired to care much, but in the morning after troubleshooting on my own and with Verizon tech support, it was clear that my line was fubar’d. Closest repair date was a week away. Interesting things happen when your connection to the world is mostly severed. (I still had the library WiFi and some data on my phone, if it were emergent.) I was unable to stream the news in real time, or the quasi-comedy news shows that put a reality-based spin on things. Imagine not seeing hateful political rants, memes, and fake news shares on Facebook for a week! So what does one do when one is unplugged? Fresh brownies in the pan for me and the neighbors. Longer walks, better writing, more reading, and interestingly… more intense dreams. By the way, DH Lawrence ain’t all he’s cracked up to be, mostly.
This week I saw the courtyard light catch fire and then burn itself out, triggering fear of another fire. Learned that a valued neighbor and apartment employee is finally ditching this place. Had a talking to in the parking lot (in the rain) by my downstairs neighbor who does not appreciate that I walk or breathe or fold my laundry a little too loud for her liking at all hours of the night. I spent a whole day pissed about that, but everything seems to have settled. Babysitting the neighbor’s cat for a week triggered allergies and asthma (or was it the lack of internet?) Cat-proofing the apartment was necessary and how interesting that my OCD has not kicked in. She bunched up the carpet runner, found the bath tub drain plug in the living room, knocks over the wood stool next to my desk… and I just leave it all there. Somehow I know that if I put everything back the way it was–immediately– she will take that as a challenge and take it all down twice as fast. Here she is occupying this card table that doubles as my dining room table, her luxurious, plumy black tail twitching on the keyboard. This week I learned that I don’t appreciate fellow tenants who let their movers damage our building and maintain an “oh well” attitude. Thanks, man, glad I don’t have to live with you. This week I learned I have been trying to diagnose and cure Henry Rollins of his anger and emotional pain, and that’s just a flat out waste of time. He’s a big boy who is living his life, the one he chose to build, best he can. Glad that’s out of the way. 😉
My internet has been reconnected, and all I can think about are emails from the lawyer who is waiting on information from me, and a reply to an email that should have begun in person instead of impersonal text. Of all the letters I have written in my head to people that didn’t matter, wasting my time and breath and energy, this is the one that needs the most care. And it should have been eye to eye.
It’s easy to say, “I just don’t have the words.” We have the words, all right, it’s just hard to say them for they could be too revealing, or horrible, or inappropriate. So we keep it to ourselves, a heavy secret we wished we could tell.
This morning I felt like saying I just don’t have the words, but of course I do. They’re welling up and it feels like a flood may come. Floods are made for destruction, aren’t they? The left-hand path is the easier to take. It would be so easy to hurl accusations and curses at my adversaries. Far too easy, just there on the tip of my tongue. But those are the words they have for me, isn’t that so? I feel like my country is one heaving bucket of “gloat” we want to dump on each other. How easy that would be. I imagine people far away wearing a certain kind of smile, doing a certain kind of dance, celebrating in their hearts, lighting candles and praising the lord they were delivered from their adversary, and when I think of it, my stomach hurts and I want to say terrible things. So now, it’s a test of my character, of all those things I claim to be, or wish to be, a woman wearing some kind of decent skin treating everyone best she can. I have to be that woman today, not the bitter, angry one who wears a coat shriveled and black. How would it look if I dumped a bucket of shit on my neighbors, fellow citizens, in their time of happiness?
My parents were politically-minded, and I wonder what they’d think about this American morning. But that’s silly now, isn’t it? Do I really believe my dad is turning in his grave because of some “thing” going on in the mortal world? Dun he have better things to do than be concerned with politics? His shade is free and at peace, but I still wish he was here to talk to.
So. Over the coming days I will have to choose how much time and energy I want to give to the politics of the day, if at all. Maybe take a page from the book of Shades and see how far a soul can go without poisoning it with this mortal junk. We’ve all got better things to do, don’t we?
Sun sets early now. I turned the outside lights on so you could see when you pull in the driveway. Just like the old days.
The dishes are washed and put away, places set. They are waiting.
My son tells me physics bedtime stories but he doesn’t know where to put things away. He is waiting.
My brother, brave and deep, sits on his bed and watches another episode of the same episode again. He is waiting.
My personal things are packed, but the balance will be stowed away with me tomorrow. I am not waiting.
I wore sandals and a tank top on the drive to New York. My clothes were packed in a gorgeous piece of luggage that once belonged to my dad, as opposed to last time I drove here with everything in a gorgeous backpack. Towards the end of the marathon drive I draped an ivory shawl around my shoulders while filling up the tank, body shaking in the cold. I felt no warmer when I walked into the house.
One dark morning I lay in bed restless in mind but body-tired. I allowed the spirit to swing my legs over the brink and pull myself into layers, ungloved hands carrying coffee out into the yard, twenty nine degrees. I walked the neighborhood next door to wait for sunrise. Frost everywhere. Someone’s Corvette is warming up in the cul de sac. I stood by the side of the road and watched squadrons of mallards in groups of four make their way due west, flapping furiously. They never fly casually in any season. Sunrise colors are muted here, dusty rose patchy and barely visible. Later as I stood chatting with my brother we watched a small flock of starlings heading northwest-ish. The sky will be black with them soon, the lawn a hopping black cacophony, but I won’t be here to see it.
This morning my Virginia neighbors tell me it’s raining, and I wish I could see it. The first night I slept in New York the room smelled dry with a dash of dust. In Virginia my plants are turning to find the sun on the sill, the tides manage themselves every six hours and I miss the moisture today. This morning I contemplate all things wild, feathers, roots, whitecaps, hungry cats, a manchild, and myself. Everything does what it needs to do, even that manchild of mine who is still figuring it all out. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut and palms open. There are better ways to handle growing pains.
Spouse brought me the boxes I asked for so I can dispose of these few things where they belong: donate, discard, or bring home. Are my actions instinctive like mallard or like the probing tendril of a plant? I.don’t.know. We are hurting in different ways, but everything does what it needs to do. Today is today, many things need doing, and I will do the best I can with these tender, beautiful hearts.