growinghumans


Midsummer Night’s Dream
July 30, 2016, 1:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

It is the dead of summer. The Black-Eyed Susans that border my front yard have seemingly burnt up, leaving just dried black eyes where the ring of gold used to be.

I am standing in my forever empty house. My daughter has gone to have fun at her grandparent’s house as I pour myself a second glass of wine and stand in her dark doorway. I sip and lean into her room, careful to not step over the threshold. The room, it will be too small for her one day. Her bed is unmade, her stuffed animals, books, clothing strewn around carelessly. It is a mess, but I don’t feel any desire to turn on the light and tidy up. It is her mess, and I find it beautiful. Here, on the floor of her little bedroom, you can see her; she is sorting through her closet trying to decide which elaborate dress she will wear that day, she is picking out a book for bedtime, she is playing a board game sometimes instead of a story. Each stuffed animal is exactly where she thinks they need to be. The extra large stuffed elephant that she got for Christmas from a relative in Ireland has permanently taken the place of an ordinary pillow. What sort of whimsical child would choose to do such a thing? This small wisp of myself rides into her dreams every night, riding on top of her elephant.

I see where her crib once stood. The room seemed bigger, impossibly big, as I would sit in there late into the night, rocking her back and forth when she refused to sleep. I would sleep on the floor next to her sleeping body when I could finally convince her to sleep in her crib. She would only sleep for an hour, maybe two, at a time.

The love didn’t come easy for me. My mind fought against. My heart was wrapped in plastic wrap after she was pulled out of my body one late autumn night. It couldn’t breath. Everything was so hard at first. Everything seemed impossible at first.

In this room, I slowly fell in love with my daughter and it is in this room that I let the love for her consume in a way that no man could ever.

It is her room, her mess; but it is my heart.

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Between the Salt Water and the Sea Strand
July 15, 2016, 2:38 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

As I sit in my childhood home, surrounded by everything that I grew up, I feel a bit like a ghost. There was a time in my life where this town, this house, was what I was made up of. Salt water ran through my veins. I was a wild thing and surrounded myself with other wild things.

We would slink down the dark streets at night, high on the salty summer air. It was all consuming. I was a lighthouse, born by the weather and the waves.

Then, I moved to Maine for college. Not the rocky coast of Maine that we would vacation at every summer; not the place where the fragrant woods met the sea, where mica and moss covered the granite that kept the two lovers apart.

I went to college deep into the state, surrounded by mountains. The winters were brutal and we all waited for the first day where the temperature would rise over 40 degrees to start wearing our sandals and short skirts again.

I stayed in that small college town for 5 years and then headed on to my next home, deep in the south. There I would get married, have a child, buy a house and earn the right to say that “I live here.”

But, after a few months, I start to feel claustrophobic. Mountains are a 4 hour drive in one direction, the sea a 3 hours drive in the other. Both accessible and gorgeous in their rights, but not the same. The landscape of the south isn’t as dramatic as New England. The southern beaches are perfect; soft white sand, warm waters, lots of people. The mountains are the same–full of sleepy hipster towns that could be over run with tourists if they tried a little bit harder. They are escapes that don’t seem to belong in the same state.

I miss the hard landscape. I miss tiptoeing over rocks, broken shells, washed up seaweed before getting to the water and dipping our toes in. There is a wonderful feeling when you place your feet right where the tide washes up. The freezing cold water covers your skin, waking up all of your nerves, it hugs around your ankles, and then grabs a hold of you and tries to drag you back into the water with it. You have to brace, you might sway if you aren’t balanced enough. That feeling, of the ocean trying to pull you in with it and the slick sand giving way beneath your toes, there is no feeling like that.

I romanticize about all of these things as I sit in my house that is placed between cotton fields and tobacco fields. I sit on my front porch at night and the thickness of the air presses at my face. There are no scents, there are no sounds, there is just me sitting in a chair wishing I was home.

But then, I come back home. I sleep in my old bedroom; me in one twin bed, my husband in the other. My parents blanket us with attention and love. I watch my daughter and my niece play in the grass, jump in the pool shrieking like small versions of my sister and I when we were growing up in a New England summer.

I drove down to the beach early this morning, careful to not get out of my car since I no longer have a resident sticker. I rolled down my windows and took a deep breath. It was low tide and the sulfuric stench made me recoil. Surely it never smelled that bad when I lived here.

I sit in my house, my family house, and watch as my parents get progressively older. I see them line up their medications on the kitchen counter each morning and night. I don’t know what the medications are or what they are for. I should know these things, but it doesn’t feel like my place to ask.

I go to the grocery store and go to pay at check out, “Do you have a member’s card?” the cashier asks me. “Oh. No. I used to live here. I live in North Carolina now. My dad has a card, though.”

Just, “No” would have been fine. I felt the need to give an excuse on why I appeared to be an outsider, but no no no I am not a tourist I am from here this place is in me I can feel it every day.

But, can I?

I grew up here and that will never change but the longer I stay away, the more this place fades from me.

Very little has changed here. This house has stayed the same. My bedroom is still exactly the same. But, as I drift from one room to the next, I feel like the spirit of a girl who used to live by the sea but lives somewhere very far away now.



There Was a Child in the Car
July 8, 2016, 3:44 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The past two days have been rough for us. Lines are being drawn and lines are being blurred. Black men have been shot, mistakenly killed, murdered, victims of racism.

Whatever you want to call it, I am not interested in right now. I am full of everyones opinions. All that matters to me right now is that these men are no longer living on this planet.

Now, I want to talk about something that, beneath the original horror of these events, is making me feel sick to my stomach.

As Philandro Castile was pulling out his wallet to show his id that the police officer requested and then was shot dead, his girlfriend and her 4 year old daughter were in the back seat. Apparently, during the horrific video circulated that I refuse to watch, you can hear the child trying to comfort her mother through the shrieks of confusion and fear.

Let me say that again.

A man who was pulled over for a tail light issue was shot dead in a car that had a child in the backseat.

A child in the backseat.

The woman was apparently told to stay still, to not move, to not leave the car. She was not allowed to take her child away from this nightmare. Her child, this child was forced to stay in the car and watch as this man was murdered in the seat in front of her.

Is this what we are doing with our children now, America?

Everywhere I look I see articles about raising well adjusted, smart, cultured children. We teach them about acceptance; we teach them that skin color, sexual preference, religion does not dictate how they should feel about people.

What did this 4 year old learn from this? I will tell you what she learned.

She learned to always be afraid of police officers. She learned that the color of her skin means something different than what she thought it meant. She learned that she has to sit still and shut up or she might be next.

Does this sound like the kind of America we are told we are providing children? Is this on the brochure for urban kids outreach programs? Is there a survival class that this 4 year old should have to attend?

This is bullshit. This is beyond bullshit. How easy would it have been to open that back door and let the child out of the car? What if the bullets had missed? What if they ricocheted and hit this 4 year old child sitting behind her father at a routine traffic stop?

This child will grow up in fear. This child will grow up angry. This child will remember watching a man she was being raised around roll down his window. This child will remember watching the gun pointing at him. This child will remember the sound and then the silence of what followed. This child will remember the hysterical shrieks of her mother. This child will remember what it sounds like to hear to someone slowly die.

This child will grow up in fear.

This child will grow up angry.

And people will continue to wonder why the black community is afraid; why they are angry.  This country is creating this culture, one damaged child at a time.

 

This country failed this 4 year old child who sat in the back seat of a car during a routine traffic stop and watched her mother’s boyfriend be murdered by someone wearing a uniform that was supposed to mean safety.

 



They whisper, “You cannot endure the storm”. I whisper back, “I am the storm”.
July 6, 2016, 12:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Legend has it that when I was younger, a hurricane hit my coastal home town. It was so strong that it blew a pine tree through my bedroom window. While all of this was happening, my father was standing on our front porch, holding my little hand. The wind whipped by us like a tornado and the rain was coming down in diagonal buckets.

I can imagine my mother was probably in the kitchen, telling him to get his butt and her daughter back into the safety of our cape cod style house.

That wasn’t the first or the last time my father took me, or my little sister, outside to face a storm. We stood there, listening to him tell us about clouds, moisture, electric charges, pressure systems.

My father would tell us that people are only afraid of things that they do not understand.

This is not to say that every fear can be broken down to scientific, tangible pieces; there are some things in life that are scary because there is no explanation; aliens, ghosts, Donald Trump, the grassy knoll.

There are things in life that you see, that you hear about, that you go through and there is no reason for them, but they terrify you just the same. Depression is one of these terror ninjas. You can give birth to a perfectly fine baby girl. You can nurture her and love her and provide all that she needs early on in life. You can take her to church, read her classic literature, take her to music lessons. You can give this child all of the tools she would need to have a fully functioning and successful life; and yet, even at a young age, something silently slips into her brain. It takes her serotonin and dopamine and makes jello out of them.

Doctors can talk to you until they are blue in the face, but they still can’t pinpoint why you are depressed, bipolar, riddled with anxiety, or faced with crippling obsessive compulsive behaviors. If people knew how to fix these disorders, if they fully understood how they worked, there would be a simple solution. There would be one pill to balance everything back out the way they are supposed to be.

When you are in the deep throws of a depression bout, when you can’t get out of bed, when you want to kill yourself, the fear takes over. Your mind has betrayed you; you don’t remember what it felt like to be normal, or at least functional.

People are always saying to only worry about things in life that you can control. This is supposed to serve as a coping mechanism against stress, I guess, but to someone like me it is bullshit.

My brain is inside of my skull which seems like something well within my control. This is my body. This is the only body I have been given and I should be in charge of how everything works in there. I read the manual, I took the trainings. And yet,

 

and yet

my brain frightens me.

It takes me dark places that I cannot breath in. It takes me into rooms with no windows and slams the door. It takes me away from my body, my heart, my soul. It robs me of everything else I CAN control about myself.

It’s basically an abusive relationship that there is no breaking up from.

I try to understand it. I take my pills. I go to the appointments. I keep vigil watch over my moods. I try so hard to stand on that porch and watch as my storm goes by; I try to break things down like my father does–science, logic, bravery.

But what can you do when that storm never passes? What happens when the storm just recedes back into your brain?

I, we, you must be strong enough to step off that porch. Stand in the middle of the storm. Lean in.

And understand that sometimes it is not just about understanding things that frighten you, but about being strong enough to endure it blindly.

As a summer thunderstorm rolled violently through my sleepy southern town this afternoon, my daughter cowered in her room, diving deeper under her covers with each roof shaking boom.

“Come out of there. It is only noise. It cannot hurt you.”

If only everything was so simple.