Saturday, November 14, 2009

“I never promised you a rose garden”

“You weren’t listening. I was talking.
And then I traced your fingers and said ‘gobble, gobble."

We went without jackets and we moved forward without intent. Squeezing through fences, tossing handfuls of autumns leftovers above our heads, posing as flesh colored statues. The crimson ivy climbing its way up the library walls housed flocks of playful sparrows, darting in and out of tangled vines and occasionally hiding behind the leaves. Eyes behind the lens, face to the sun; We were chained to ourselves and sheltered from what the day was supposed to be.

I don’t mean to. Paradoxically, I do it almost entirely on purpose. Often times I speak cinematically. It’s as though I collect and unknowingly rehearse lines in my head, all of which are organically grown from my seeds of thought. I then take these impulsively crafted lines and use them in such a way that unsuspecting strangers and non strangers alike would assume that a film crew were near by, recording my every breath. Most of the time I simply enjoy the way certain things sound when said in a certain way. There is no script.

I don’t know my place. Sometimes my words precede my sense of rationality and the sounds of “we” and “our” evade my mouth. But, to my defense, it’s very misleading to hear the same sounds from a different voice only to reiterate that I, in fact, do not live there. People express confusion when told of my current living situation. They usually all ask the same questions with the same baffled look on their face. I am constantly running back and forth between two houses both of which I am incapable of calling home. No matter where it is I chose to sleep, or where my belongings currently reside, I feel like an intruder. Everything I know has great potential to become impermenant. Perhaps it isn’t a matter of having a place to call home as much as it is to feel at home. I am thankful, however, that I have several beds that are forever inviting my dreams to rest.

A beer in one hand, a cigarette in the other, teetering on sturdy heels, I tossed my head back to release a plum of smoke. That’s when I caught them. A group of girls all of which I could only remember first names and whether or not we shared a class together in high school. They stared. They pointed. They tossed their heads back out of mockery to let out muted laughs; the music was too loud. An oversized branch of girls extending from the gossiping tree of origin, walked past, spitting my name far enough for me to hear it. And in an instant I resorted to my high school defenses. I cowered. And then I entered phase two (which I attribute to my alcohol use); I began to huddle amongst those I could trust and I shot disapproving glances in every direction, curse words flying. It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized that perhaps I overreacted. It took me a cigarette and a quiet, solitary moment for me to feel sorry for those girls; Those girls who managed to have some sort of power over me in school and who will be 35 years old, going to the same bars, dressing the same way, drinking the same beer with the same crowd. I smiled at the thought of this because I don’t even have to try to avoid becoming them. Becoming them isn’t in this plan.

The weather was unusually beautiful for November and in this rare moment of seasonal sunshine and warmth, I found myself feeling completely unbarred and free. Steering the wheel with my legs, I drove over a cement hill, eyes closed. Spreading my arms, the autumn breeze lifted me to a place where all of the mismatched, mislaid pieces fit together. This may be considered unsafe verging on reckless but it was in some way life affirming. Half way through my decent, I peeled my eyes half open. But only because I wanted to see if I was going to survive this glimpse of clarity. To my surprise and delight, I did. My hands returned to their respective places upon the wheel and I regained control of the road before me. My newly found freedom has given me the strength to take on anything and everything, because I know that I have the control to do whatever I please. Overwhelming? Yes, it may appear to be so. Nevertheless, I much rather be overwhelmed with possibility that to be riddled with oppression.

We are innocently wired this way, but we are far from alone. It’s the instant where things show great promise of working out and going well that we habitually throw our progress to the wind, leaving us without words, without reason. It’s in my easily threatened nature to remain tight mouthed and walk away than to confront our wrongdoings and our missteps. If I don’t find a way to rewrite this character flaw, I might be granted my unconscious, unwanted wish. The life that has been treating me so preciously over the past few months could easily be taken from me. We would be foolish to not want to work towards patching holes and opening our mouths so that only the real truth can come out, all of the time.

It isn’t that I’m not listening, I simply can’t hear you. I strain my ears to meet your voice but no matter the volume, I only hear muted whispers. Sometimes I forfeit and I say what I’m expected to say depending on your facial expressions and body language. This is valid for everyone I verbally encounter. I’m frustrated by my own disregard. I now appreciate the quiet side of life.

Here I am, writing. Headphones muffing my ears providing a soundtrack to the poorly fused sentences in my head, rocking back and forth, side to side. I am, right now, a composer. Notes are evolving into scales and scales are developing into sentences and sentences are developing into paragraphs. This may not be music and I may not be a musician, but this fluidity of thought pressing itself against the tips of my fingers, spilling onto notebook pages and computer screens is the only time that I feel as though I am a creator. Very rarely do I feel worthy of having something to say and even less often do I feel as though I have the right words to speak with. Every once and a while it is crucial to remove yourself from your little white room; the one up the stairs, with two windows. Every once and a while the only push you need are the unassuming words of a stranger, convincing you that today, this day, is a beautiful one. That’s all it took, for me anyway. How can you be expected to inspired enough to create something from nothing when you can’t see the music?

I am confident that I want nothing more than to be in love forever.

"I never promised you a rose garden. I never promised you perfect justice . . .
and I never promised you peace of happiness. My help is so that you can
be free to fight for all of those things. The only reality I offer is challenge,
and being well is being free to accept it or not at whatever level you are capable.
I never promise lies, and the rose-garden world of perfection is a lie . . . and a bore, too!"
-Joanne Greenberg
From “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden”
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