There’s an elaborate covering. It’s my protection. What you see, is who you see, and who I am is the woman I’ve created. There’s nothing organic in what I present. It was burned away during the refining and the smell still haunts me but the wind is cleaning what was and what is still wears proud singe marks but you need an expert eye to see what is hidden. I don’t know what healed looks like but it’s close to what I feel on days unlike today.
I moisturize then shade layers of shadow on my eyes. I line my upper lids in black and mascara on my magic because the goal is to conjure a glance that might lead to more. My lips are rarely lined, but usually smeared in red. I pucker a pop with “O” rounded lips and imagine others would think of love or sex or death and want my lips to be a parting gift before sweet surrender into nothing. Sex brings life but can also leave death in brokenness and the balance is struck with intention past lust.
I’ve been told I have great legs and a terrific rack. I’ve been told I have a great body but I’m not offering it so every thought that bounds out of my brain is torn to nothing by what the lustful imaginations directed at my body are thinking at the same time. I grew up in the 80’s where it was safe to walk to and from school when I was in the 3rd grade. It was safe to stop in polite acquiescence for the man in the red car that was lost and thought I might know where he wanted to go while he held his rigid cock in his hand and I slowly backed away from what I couldn’t understand. Street harassment is nothing to aggressive teens that believe their hands belong on my ass and an inept electives teacher with an overhanging belly laughed that boys will be boys and there were no options for me because all through the 8th grade I would remain a victim to what was found as sexy on my body and I just wanted to get lost in a book. The books I read told me that romance starts like aggression and maybe touching places that were uncomfortable would lead to excitement and angst and eventually love. Leather and lace and bodice ripping romance started as violence and maybe this was the way to the happiness that comes in 300 pages and ends with marriage and a baby. I eventually named my butt, scrawling “my name’s butt” on the bottom of a phys-ed t-shirt. I laughed at their aggression, acting as though it was invited. It took my authority back in a way that became their disinterest. It was perceived that I was asking for it, and by that point I didn’t care anymore.
I strut to the beat that is blaring in my ears. One foot directly in front of the other, swaying slightly and stepping confidently. I walk swiftly. I glide slowly. Chin up and shoulders back, I am ready for what is coming, even if it’s just ice cream that I have no intention of finishing.
I sing loudly to stop the thoughts that bounce and roam into the corners of quiet that I want to claim as my own. There is no respite from the world I can’t control and the bell I can’t unring is resounding in ways I wasn’t prepared for. There was a shift and the future once planned has unraveled and is now mapping slowly before me. I can choose the paths that I want to take, but to take them means I have to commit to a choice that is elusive when I keep changing my mind. How do I avoid the paths I already took? How does the familiar become the chains of control I once handed over to someone else to map a destiny I didn’t want? How do I share who I am and still keep who I am to myself? I choose being alone. I choose me. Over and over the songs on repeat are love songs I sing to myself because I get who I am. I think.
In the quiet and calm when words flow from my mind through racing fingertips, I piece together what I feel, as I can’t just think it. I process out who I claim to be. I bounce it off the walls of my being like unfinished spaghetti that isn’t al dente and won’t stick to the wall. What gives my life meaning and in what actions do I place merit? How do I believe life should be? I don’t follow politics because I’m still deciding what I think is best for me and my children. I know what I think I know and I feel what should be the same for all, and I share those thoughts when it’s safe. But who I am says I can’t force or change what I believe to force and reframe anyone else. My ideals are still pliant and malleable under my shifting perceptions.
Is it ever safe to be who I am? Who I think I am and who I feel I am are fledgling through the faith of my existence. I’m fragile and breakable, but strong enough to hold it together long enough to fall quietly and completely when I don’t have an audience. How amazing would it be to find the one that thinks I’m smarter than I am pretty and be okay with my measurements of both?
I step outside for the warmth of a summer night and a few teardrops will make an appearance before a deep and shaky breath banish them away. I’m having a night I hope to forget and never revisit. Moist cheeks shine under the reflected glow of a moon hiding in the shadow of the earth it worships in a monthly dance of adoration. The earth doesn’t see the beauty the moon sees. The earth can’t feel the warmth of the sun, but the moon knows. The moon dances slowly and sullenly through phases blamed on the moon, but the moon wouldn’t affect much of anything without the forces of the sun and the earth. The moon is a rock. The moon has to be strong and constant. She has no choice and her will is only to exist.
The rage of the afternoon and the fall of late night will cushion racing thoughts with exhaustion and the quiet of acceptance will fall on graceless limbs. The dawn will come and morning dew will wash away any signs of sorrow. The birds will worship the sun in song and California Poppies will race Morning Glories to open their petals in gratitude for another day to shine and I will put on my covering and brace for a new day and another goodbye as my sons go back to their Dad.
I’ll think of the earth with its beautiful browns and perfect shape. Its graceful path and predictable orbit will bring the peace of fulfilled expectation. It’s a celestial body so used to existing it will never see how strong and resilient it is. It dances through life, circling a sun because it’s what has always been done, but never noticing the clouds that love being around it, or the waters that push and pull and give life to a moving mass of rock that is solid and molten and perfect in imperfection. I’ll wonder at which points my intensity is too much and marvel that it’s a question the earth will never consider.
I’ll meander and rest through the week until custody shifts back and spend my time alone figuring out again what it means to be my self.