Saturday, June 20, 2015

"So this is me."

No other woman - or man - in all of San Francisco (or maybe even California) was as nervous unloading a bag of groceries as she in this moment. Every corpuscle was conscious of its movement, she watched her hands as those being of another. Something was supposed to happen. Something bad, or apocalyptic, or suddenly like lightning to strike her down. Nothing did in the late afternoon sun she'd come to love in this coastal paradise.

Life after divorce was supposed to be a literal fate worse than death, a sort of a living torment dropped into an abyss. But that hadn't happened. Not yet, anyway. She was back to budgeting her money, doing for herself and deciding her day. Most of all she was living with herself, which had become a bogeyman of sorts over the decades, a merciless flesh eating monster to devour her soul. But so far she'd come to realize it was her fear of that bogeyman that had eaten her soul.

Maybe I'm not as weak and helpless as I believed. I feel a strange calmness. Where is it coming from? I haven't stood on my own two feet since college. It's as if I'm a veal calf getting up and walking out of the pen. Am I really this strong? God, I hope this is real. So much madness has been removed from my mind! Is there more to my future than I feared?

After putting away the groceries she sauntered to the living area and sat in silence. Times like this she expected to be swallowed by a great void, losing her grip as she slid down an ice smooth tunnel straight to the depths of hell. Funny, but this fear before that was so vivid and real and certain applied more to the alone times in her marriage than now. She recalled thinking, "If it's this bad being alone married just imagine the hell of being alone unmarried!" Instead, the stillness of the room welcomed her, like a long lost friend. Who knew?

For the first time in forever she remembered the early days of her marriage while her husband's career soared as she stayed in her pen atrophying. The surge of youth swelled in her bosom, deeply fantasizing of her husband and his friends taking her one after the other in irrepressible desire, making her useful at last. She would have denied them nothing, performing any act they called for. If only someone had asked! But these secrets had never been divulged as she withered denying her passions.

She was curious why these thoughts had suddenly come back to her now.

This time last year she had been madly clinging to the long dead feel-good drugs of the past. Her 30th class reunion was coming up this year and she was planning her attack with all the detail of the Normandy invasion. She had to come out on top. Her friend's remark of calling it a "I've peaked and I'm kidding myself party" infuriated her to no end, burning her to the core. But now she could see no importance to attending or even understand what it was she thought she was accomplishing. She'd been chasing a mirage.

The other minor miracle was her family's support. It was almost as if they knew all along she'd been running away from life! Or maybe the fog had cleared from their eyes as it did with hers. She was no longer married to her childhood sweetheart as her parents had done. She never felt anything less than that could be acceptable. It was a brutally rigid and choking standard but one she had pulled off, taking the glory and accolades that went with it. No one called her out for that. She'd kill to have a completely open and honest conversation with her parents.

How surprising to find some stirrings of youth left inside her. How surprising to find a future not so bleak, one that even - dare she say it - excited her in a distant way. How surprising to find herself capable of dealing with a drastic drop in lifestyle, her previous lifeblood. How surprising to find her biggest fear was in realizing on how much she'd missed out.

Over the years her morality had twisted into self-denial, of how God didn't want a worthless wretch like her to express herself. As she stared upon the mountain of bad feelings she'd piled up she was overwhelmed by the debt she'd incurred. She'd always called herself "saved" but even she had to let out a small snort of disgust at that statement. She was a long, long way from anything even close to that. It was God whom she'd been denying, rebuking her responsibility to herself. Damn.

"So this is me."

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