At night I close my eyes yet am wide awake wanting a miracle to make you happy, to be whole and live the life you want to live. To unlock the chains of stigmatism, of bigotry and divisiveness I would slay fiercely. I want to wake to see you smiling, holding the hand of another, laughing and having plans that don’t include me. I want you to be loved as I love you, your heart to feel cosy and warm; I want this life to begin for you with acceptance and commitment. Will the barriers which bind you to unhappiness release you soon; will the sun shine and your warm brown eyes have no tears? I lay solemn, my pledge to see you through your journey unwaivering. I would be lying to myself and to the grand altruism deemed LOVE if I said it will all be okay. I don’t know if it will be okay, that you will thrive or that this world will give you what you need. My heart is heavy, my mind restless; I never stop thinking about you becoming who you are without more pain. I would pray, yet my beckoning turns sour when each day I see your soft eyes vulnerable. The God I once knew would not cast such pain on you. Goodnight my love. May you sleep and dream of rainbows and all the things that keep you strong; I close my eyes yet my heart is open for you every hour, every breath and will never be calm until I know you are satisfied.
Bound by societal conformation we adorn our fingers with proof we are part of another; we have consigned within ourselves to be part of a whole. As a pair, wedded or not, both persons give part of their sentient “SELF” away. Inside the heart’s overflowing bloody pool many are tredding and desperatly clinging to reach the shore and shake off the idea of identifying themselves as seperate; like a wet labrador retriever humans often dedicate their entire lives to this bigger entity called marriage. Leashed, we toddle along and are faithful to our significant other in roughly 75.9% of human to human relationships. Yet, what if you were never whole on your own to begin with? Entrapped like a caged chimpanzee, your inner being never came forth. Lm was and is still hidden under layers of sediment and has never been set completely free. What does freedom really mean? How does her dedication to another feel when she is only a ghost of herself? Lm is not bound by religous doctrine and her insecurities wrestle with her pride daily. Why do people hide behind their roles, children or religion? What exactly is friendship? What makes one fear being who they are? Rock allows Lm much freedom to explore without guidelines. As far back as I can remember I have been shocked when others hurt me. It’s as if I have no shield between the real world and my heart. If I am betrayed I am not very good at forgiving. Where does this come from? I recently opened a door to a haunting memory at a southern USA summer church camp. I had one good friend joining me on this adventure and there would be new youth from all over the state of Tennessee to converge into this lovely, peaceful setting. I had my menstruation as I recall and was in much pain and couldn’t get in the pool. In the girl’s dorm before lights out I wrote in my journal and slipped it under my pillow each night. I described breakfast, vespers by campfires, the piney smell of the forest and my activities of the day. Each night at the campfire there was a boy who I thought was very cute and had a mean crush on. Note to all blossoming empathetic beings, never leave your journal where it can be found by others or in particular, don’t trust that good people won’t do bad things. I looked daily at the activity sign up sheet and made sure I was in whatever group he was going to be in that day. I laughed at his jokes, smiled with my shiny braces and always looked to see where his eyes wandered around when we met for campfire sharing before bedtime. My friend who came with me was very outgoing and had a sense of confidence I did not. She was the oldest of in her family of three sisters and one foster brother. We did not attend the same school however so my relationship with her was built on our both being in the loosely labeled ” Non-Denominational Christian Youth Group” in my part of the state. She would call me and ask if I was going to youth group each week and if I was going our mothers took turns picking us up. We also took ballet, tap and jazz dance lessons together and mall walked on Saturday nights together sometimes. She would become to me the monumental meaning of ” two-faced”, a term used in school amongst clicks talking about who could and could not be trust worthy. The depth of my innocence and lack of competence in social circles hadn’t hit me yet. I was not only the naive one in most situations but also the silly one. If I had no idea what to do I would make others laugh. Laughing was and is a good thing unless you become the target of others cruel wit. As camp neared the end of the two week stint I shared with my friend who had taken the long bus trip to western Tennessee with me that I had a crush on this boy. Unbeknownst to me was she already knew. Customary at camp was to give our new friends our addresses and many took photos. I asked my friend to please get a photo of me with this sweet boy and I would then suggest we exchange addresses. I stood as close to him as possible and he draped his right arm behind my neck and over my shoulder in full camp pal mode. I got his address and ran back to tuck it into my journal. What? Where was my diary? A sting swelled in my cheeks as if I had been slapped and tears broke loose. We were to all sit on the cabin steps for a group photo and I didn’t go back out. My youth counselor came in to find me and asked me why I was upset. As I told her my journal was missing she said that surely it must have fell behind my bunk bed when I was packing my things to go home and she would help me find it after. Teenage or middle aged trigger warning bells are chiming. I sit down and my friend asked me what was ” that all about?” and I told her. After the group’s picture was taken we were to pick up our lunches prepacked in the dining hall to eat on our buses home. I ran to get mine and as I was heading back to my room I saw my counselor with my journal in her hand; she always had a happy smile that all youth group leaders have, “I found it on the lower bunk.” I was grateful but certainly confused. We loaded our bus to the Nashville suburbs and my crush boarded his bus to far eastern Tennessee. My friend sat next to me and we ate our Lay’s potato chips first and giggled about different things we’d experienced all the way home. When we got off the bus I gave her a hug, never expecting it to be my last. I gave my film to my mother to have developed when she was driving. She stuck it in her purse and asked me lots of questions. I couldn’t find words to talk to my mother. I wanted to say I had a crush on a boy and I froze. I never could openly talk with my mother and I wasn’t about to start then. Days before school was to start my mother came home from work with my camp pictures developed. Excitedly I looked at each one and threw away the ones blurry with my big thumb also in them then, wait! What was this? My mother was near but busy making dinner yet she heard my outburst of tears and saw me run to my bed and do a full face down on my mattress kicking my legs and sobbing. She couldn’t understand my words but kept asking what was wrong. She looked at the picture and didn’t see what I did. As my photo was examined my TRUST, my Loyal Beagle friendship myth was broken. There I was with the boy who I had a secret crush on that only one person knew about. My holier than thou church pal who’d taken the photograph had also not only read my journal but given it to him to read also. There I stood like a fool, the rush of being close to this boy had my eyes reflecting my giddiness and well, the boy with one arm around my neck hanging over my shoulder had his other hand pulling my journal out from under his tee-shirt from the back. Yes, my friend took this photo and had shared my secret. Trust crumbled and I was unconsolable. On youth group night I overheard my mother speaking to my ex-friend’s mother about who was driving and I ran to her and motioned for her to cover the wall phone’s speaker. I blurted out I wasn’t going because I had a headache. My mother finished her conversation and hung up. A headache. She felt my head. I didn’t feel warm. I got out of this one night of humiliation yet I did not get out of my life sentence of anxiety when attempting to make new friends. To this very day that memory still comes up. I still take on the smiling persona that Rock helped Lm build to bravely navigate through social situations and sadly, this would not be my first lesson on friendship and meaningful communication. I would be hurt again and again because I cared too much. Today’s goal is strengthening my boundaries and my family which I have built on one solid foundation, Love and Trust. I am a good friend to hold onto however, without doubt I will remain in my stairwell peeking out at anyone new who wants to try to know me. I am still recovering. Still easily bruised and I am still fighting to understand what makes Lm happy.
In the deep green, the lychee layers sprawl; in the deep green my heart expresses all. Above, soft blue sprinkles through the trees, a sigh of light lands on me. The stones hold memories, ancient muted songs of those who walked before me with their own dreams strong. I pause to speak to the spirits around me, I call for them to help me see. Silently my grandmothers with wise women sing, of love, death and all in between. The wind so cool playing with branches gently swaying as my soul enhances. I want to weep yet I am boldly compelled to seek out guidance and perhaps a spell. If I can heal my child’s pain with divinity, I beg that you share your sacred recipe. Dear Mother of our forests breath, I will forsake all for my bequeathed. Take her pain and rinse her despair, show me again how she will fair. Within herself, give back her smile and lead her through this desperate trial. I walk away and ask once more for you to open her heart’s closed door. A Mother so vast, so grand as you must reach out and take her hand. Remember when she was so content, her love so easy, her innocence? Deep green forest and strong tall trees, lift her fog. Blessed Be.
There was a game she played as a child, it was a night time scary, silly, giggling tradition with Lm and her cousins. With a flashlight on and one kid holding it upward under his or her chin, the bedroom or basement doors darkened and it would start. Announcing in the scariest voice one could muster up, one would call “I’m on the first step”, giggles in the dark, then the imagined curmudgeon would say in an even creepier tone, “I’m on the second step”, then more squeals. On each step this creature would say something to the likes of “I’m going to eat you all up” or “I hate little children” and maybe let out a growl. Blankets were pulled over each head and huddled together everyone felt safer. Once on the top step, the door would swing wide open and the tickling began. How do we get ourselves worked up into a frenzy over someone we know, playing a spooky game yet when real life frightens us we clam up? Lm opened door 26 without thought. Who would help her through this real life game of truth and fiction? Inside the door the sun is so bright that sunglasses are needed. This memory is from the Bahamas where the evening breeze was welcomed. The shutters to her and her father’s room stayed wide open, screenless and at street level she could see crowds of white pale tourists clashing with the beautiful brown and deep chocolate skin of the Bahamians. The ocean burst upon the shore and the heat made Lm doze in and out while her father went out on the streets, crowded with laughter and accents she’d never heard. He bought her a stack of postcards with a pen. He said they were going to a fancy dinner show. The man’s name was Milton Berle that was to make them laugh and drinks and such were served at the table near an aisle. Lm had been to a lot of interesting places but this sounded much more exciting than a trip to the drive in movies or a ride on the ferris wheel at the county fair. When they arrived they were seated close to the stage with Lm near the aisle where the busboy’s catered to tables and BaDDaD although laughing a lot, also drank a lot. She knew by now this was the good side of BaDDaD, as long as he was kept happy and the drinks kept coming he’d get them back to the bungalows lining the beach. None of what Milton Berle said was funny to her but she was certainly the youngest person in the crowd. He had a sweet face and big white teeth, a tuxedo and shiny dark hair that was combed back with what she would guess to be “Dippity Do”. She consumed several Shirley Temples and watched the young men rush up and down the plush carpeted rows, from table to table they bowed and filled their trays and took away all the dirty dishes and uneaten food. Suddenly, a bus boy tripped on a step and his tray went flying toward Lm and landed by her feet. She scrambled to help him and picked up cracked plates, rolling grapes and chunks of melon. All at once a bright white light shone on her and all the people stared. Milton Berle asked the audience to have a good look at the sweet and helpful young lady helping out with all the clamour made from the shattered mess. She looked at Milton Berle and he blew her a kiss. The audience was cheering and BaDDaD was beaming. Afterwards, he would take her to a place where machines were rolling with cherries, lemons and people were using up coins to spin them around. She was weary. BaDDaD told everyone about her being spotted by Milton Berle that night. Someone who worked at this noisy place full of adults came up and said Lm couldn’t be in the room. Lm saw his face turn red like the cherries 🍒 rolling round and he called a taxi to send her back to the bungalow. He gave her a key and said for her to go to sleep. She climbed into the cab and he sent her off, through streets unfamiliar, a country unknown to her and she tried the key. It didn’t work. Luckily the shutters had been left open and she climbed up and over into the now cooler room. She felt scared and closed the shutters and latched them from inside. The fan hanging above the bed was whisking around and she watched it spin until she fell asleep. In the early morning when light was creeping in through the shutters she opened one to look for BaDDaD. Soon he appeared and gave her a smelly kiss and too tight hug and fell onto the bed to sleep. She was quite hungry and fished through his pockets for some change. She found a little bit and went out and straight to the street where dogs ran about barking, people were stirring and saw the cart where a happy faced dark man with a straw hat sold things and called out to tourists to come see him. In his rich Bahamian accent he asked what he could get the “little miss” staring up at him. Lm asked for breakfast and he laughed. “Oh, I don’t have breakfast miss, but I do have some cola!” She put the coins up and he said he needed more. Lm explained her father was asleep and told him all about Milton Berle, the busboy, the new word, “casino”, the spinning cherries and the taxi all by herself. The man softened and then handed her a cola and a small cup of lemon ice. “This will cool you off.” She took the lemon ice and her cola and went back to the bungalow. She sat on a stool and got out her postcards and pen and wondered how she could write all of this down and to whom she should send the cards. She finally laid down next to BaDDaD who was sleeping with pillows over his head. He always did that no matter where they were. Lm knew it would be a long day waiting for him to wake and resolved herself to watching the people stream by and finally her eyes closed as the sun and sky slowly changed to yellow, orange and pink.
Nibbling at her nails ( Grandma said ” it’ll give you worms”) LittleMe stared into the toilet. Before school at her babysitter’s house she’d been gnawing on a button attached to her white cotton sweater watching “Captain Kangaroo” when it popped off and down the hatch it went. Plop. A button in her tummy tum tum. LittleMe panicked and ran up the stairs to the light under the doorway and screamed her babysitter’s name. The door opened and there was Mrs. Dillahay in her curlers and apron. LittleMe blurted out what had happened and a sweet, comforting smile appeared on her babysitter’s face. She took LittleMe down the stairs and sat with her and greeted other children as they arrived. Soon we’d all be sent off to school, down the big grassy hill, passed the clothes line, the hound dog pen, then carefully step on stones and fallen limbs to cross the creek. On and up the trail on the other side we’d climb through tall grass, often wet from early morning dew and enter the doors to Hickman Elementary School. This day LittleMe was anxious. Mrs. Dillahay whispered to LittleMe that after lunch the button she’d swallowed would show up when she pooped. LittleMe watched the clock, although she hadn’t learned to read the big clock very well yet, she did know that both hands of the clock would be straight in the middle on the number 12 when the lunch bell rang. She scurried to get in line and walked in the required orderly fashion to the giant cafeteria. She found her seat and opened her “Dagwood and Blondie” lunch box. It always smelled of something she didn’t like, perhaps the tin itself was the cause. She opened her thermos and poured out her milk into it’s red matching cup and unfolded the paper wrap around her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She then ate a mini box of raisins and a couple of carrot sticks. She raised her hand and her first grade teacher, Mrs. Edwards ( who’d paddled her twice in her first month of school) came to her seat. LittleMe asked to use the toilet and Mrs.Edwards gave her a hall pass and she ran as fast as she could to the stark white bathrooms with big gray doors and silver metal sliding locks. She went in a stall and sat waiting for the button. She waited and waited and nothing came. Soon Mrs. Edwards would come to look for her. LittleMe panicked at the sound of the big door creaking open. “Lunch time is over, come along.” LittleMe flushed the toilet terrified. She fell into line with her class and wiggled and fidgeted until Mrs. Edwards spoke loudly, ” What is making you so disruptive today?” LittleMe saw all eyes on her and shrugged her shoulders. She tried very hard to remain composed. When the bell rang for recess she went along hesitantly with the others and thought about the button somewhere in her body lying there and how her mother would ask what happened. She never went near the merry-go-round and trapsed along the grass beside the beige bricked courtyard. Suddenly she saw in the grass a nest with two bird eggs. She called for her friend Bitsy to have a look. Bitsy told her best friend Steve and soon the school guard came to have a look. “Leave them alone” and he quelled the curiosity of the gathering crowd with, ” the Mother bird will come back for them.” Everyone scattered and of course LittleMe lingered behind. Once the guard had blown the whistle to end recess she had to make a quick decision. Would the mother come back? Would the eggs be stepped on when everyone ran home after school? She knew that they needed protection and warmth. She decided not to risk it and took the eggs and hid them in her front pockets of her green and white dress. She carefully got in cue and returned to class. It was story time and all children were to put their hands on their desks and lay their heads down to rest. While the teacher read aloud LittleMe stared down at her pockets and couldn’t wait to get home and have her own baby birds to feed. Then a warmth could be felt on her stomach; she looked in her pocket and there the eggs had cracked. The wet goop dripped down her leg to her knee socks. She kicked Bitsy under the table who sat directly across from her. Bitsy looked puzzled then LittleMe whispered, “run for paper towels”. They both eyed Mrs.Edwards and she appeared immersed in her book pacing along the front of the chalkboard. Bitsy saw the eggy mess and scuttled to the art corner where heavy industrial paper could be rolled out and torn from a hanger on the wall. Immediately Mrs. Edwards raised her eyebrows and called out to Bitsy with a stern tone. “What are you up to Bitsy?”; Bitsy in her yellow dangling, curly pigtails and smock floral dress stopped in her tracks. She looked at Mrs. Edwards then she looked at LittleMe. Yikes. LittleMe knew right then she was in for trouble. Bitsy blurted out that the eggs had cracked and the babies weren’t there. “Eggs?” LittleMe stood up and Mrs. Edwards and Bitsy looked at her pockets and at the dripping gunk as did the whole lot of her classroom. “What on earth have you done now!” their teacher called out. She took the paper towels from Bitsy’s hands and marched LittleMe to the washroom in the class. She wiped her legs and picked out the crumbled shells and looked into LittleMe’s eyes quizzically. “You’ve been paddled twice and still you cause disruption. What were you doing with eggs in your pocket?” LittleMe explained in first grade words how it all came to be. She started to cry. Mrs. Edwards told her she hoped she’d learned her lesson to let nature take care of nature and for one moment Mrs. Edwards looked empathetic. Story time was interrupted and it was LittleMe’s fault. Bitsy was red-faced and horrified as she realized she had broken a rule; Never Get Up From Your Seat Without Permission! Sting. LittleMe waited for the paddle to be taken from it’s drawer in Mrs. Edwards desk. Nothing happened. Soon the clock was on the 2 and 12 and the bell rang to line up for dismissal; Bitsy ran to the front and was to lead the line that day. “Wait, Bitsy! You broke an important rule today and can not be the leader.” said Mrs. Edwards. Bitsy hadn’t raised her hand and it was all LittleMe’s chaos that brought this on. Bitsy was taken to the end of the line and then all marched out to the big double doors that opened to the sunshine and freedom of home. As kids ran this way and that, LittleMe sprung down the grassy knoll, hopped across the creek, sprung up the hill passed the barking dogs, the clothesline and there was Mrs. Dillahay smiling, her hair all styled now and cookies and fruit punch were waiting for her regulars. Sitting cross legged on the braided rug LittleMe watched “Gilligan’s Island” and ate her cookies. Suddenly she remembered the button in her tummy. She ran to the basement toilet which all the youngster’s overseen used and sat and waited. Afterwards, before she flushed she looked carefully and there was the tiny white button. She called out for her babysitter who came in quickly. “Look, it’s there! Can you get it out?” begged LittleMe. “Oh no, no, it has to be flushed.” Mrs. Dillahay pushed the handle down and there went the button. She took a look at LittleMe’s dress and saw the stains from the bird’s eggs. “Let me fix you up a bit. She lifted her dress over her head and rinsed the pockets clean and then slipped her dress back on her, “go out and play in the sun and they’ll dry and leave me your sweater to me”. Outside the kids chased butterflies, teased the dogs and swung on the tire swing under the cool shade of an old oak tree. All was going well until they all heard Gary, a very tiny boy cry out. They all ran up the hill passed the dogs and there sat little Gary with his eyes swollen shut! LittleMe ran for Mrs. Dillahay and she came out quickly. Gary was coughing and screaming. No one made a sound. She ran back in the house and came out with her purse and car keys and told everyone to jump in fast. We all got in the backseat and some hurdled over the seat into the flat back of her station wagon and off we sped to the clinic where we all knew that shots were given. She parked the car and rolled the windows down and told us all to stay inside no matter. She grabbed Gary who by then was making a wheezing sound that was very scary. We all gathered in the far back and stared out toward the door and waited. Soon enough out came Gary walking and quiet, his eyes were still puffy but Mrs. Dillahay was smiling in her kindly way that meant all was fine. When we got back to the house his parents had shown up. Gary’s mother and father were there. A bit of LittleMe was jealous to see his father show such concern. Gary had been stung by a bee. Now LittleMe who was very good at worrying had something more to think about. She went inside and sat on the couch with her arms crossed and then heard her mother’s voice. She looked down at her pockets and the stains were gone and then on her way out the door her mother asked, “where’s your white sweater?” Mrs.Dillahay smiling as always waved and said hello then asked for us to wait. She popped inside and brought out her sweater and low and behold there were no missing buttons.
I believe other people see me. I believe I am simple and my altruistic heart is understood. I have found those who claim to love me most deliver me my worst pain; I am a disturbing, empathetically redundant woman. I feel emotions and I feel love, always wanting to make a difference in this life but seem to fail. I too may need saving. I can’t bare to look up and see the stars beauty and feel alone. There is a song..a song we know well. Something special. Is it, “Oh darling please don’t let me be misunderstood”? Regardless, I am alone with my heart, my life as it is and yes, I am afraid. I was afraid from a very young age and after fifty plus years I still live in fear of hurt. Thank you ROCK for sparing me. If it was not for your sheath, your solid house that encompasses me I don’t know if I would still be alive. I live for my only child and gave up on my own shadow and dreams of love. Now, it is my devotion to my daughter that gets me on my feet, even if I must stand on hot coal and a bed of nails in my naked Truth.
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