A Moment of Clarity

fingerprint

The room, the last office along the beige corridor, cornered to the right. Its windows, showered light that enveloped the walls. She sat in front of the windows facing me, while I faced the windows. The desk bore no personality, or ownership. Just semi-empty drawers occasioned by pencils, napkins, and salt and pepper pouches from a lunch long past.

I couldn’t feel my body. Still in dismay from their lies to get me there, my stoic body stared with wide eyes open. She asked questions, and I replied with calculated quips that at first strategized the best right answer to get me out of there, but then gave in. Leaving was not an option.

My mind raced with what had just happened.

Cringing from the betrayal, I craved satisfaction that would not come for quite some time. I needed sedation by the doctor’s remedy to numb the uncomfortable pain of transitioning. Sitting there, motionless, I wondered how my life came to this instance of reckoning: the end of a long road of running. It took endless seconds to realize this confrontation, between nurse and patient, marked an opportunity.

My addiction started long before the first drug.

Memories go as far back as when my little sister was born. Dad, taking charge of his three little girls, seemed overwhelmed, yet elated with welcoming his fourth. Each small hand holding the other sister’s hand waved to the hospital window above us. A shadow of our mother waved back, and we all felt special.

Having a little sister meant I had someone smaller than me to play with. I quickly learned that the specialness of being the “baby” passed to her. Now, relegated to the third out or four, I represented the child in-between: no longer the one cuddled and cooed over, or given full attention. All that hubbub came to its end, and a different self awareness awoke, unfolding to a darker, saddened worldview.

Little sister and I were a twosome pod in a family that grouped into twos. With six, this kind of compartmentalization seemed natural and effortless. As besties who looked to each other for companionship and compassions, I loved the idea of loving her and being loved by her. We pretended all the time: to be wealthy, talented, scholarly, and fashion forward.  But dreams don’t often manifest in real-world self actualization. Although a twosome, I always believed myself alone: distant and outside the group.

My daily growing up stared into the abyss of my parent’s 1960’s TV. No books. No conversations at dinner. Little time for connecting. My inner dialogue tethered to the TV sound track, which brainwashed my imagination.  Overtime, when I took to exploring deeper meanings from within, and mindful thought found spoken words, these meanderings met criticisms, or ridicules, from older sisters and their friends, who mocked and beat down any lingering confidence.

Craving a connection to hope, which I couldn’t imagine for myself, I believed that anything better existed beyond my reach at home. My sole purpose in finding a means to the end only led me down darker alleys with g-o-d centered smack as the elixir to open imagined doorways at dead ends.

I wandered off, looking for like minded fiends, yet craved fixing the damaged spirit. Some days happened without issue, but one day, I stayed away longer than usual. The return home only convinced me to leave for good. Moving to New York City, in the fall of 1976, marked the beginning of a ten year run. The beige room with the chair facing the windows marked the end of the marathon.

The nurse locked the doors behind me. She put the key in her drawer. She expected me to learn to live a new way of thinking. Although given this moment and many others to confess, leaving was not an option until I believed in a life without regret.

Switching Things Up

tortoise and hare

Taking one’s time at figuring out the next step in a situation is not a bad, or weak, thing to do. On the contrary, moving slowly with major changes allows for a greater opportunity to have things be more successful. In this age of fast tracking information, and constant gratification through internet feeds, the old road of the tortoise still has ground.

In the beginning of my life in academia, I took on whatever task I could fit into my schedule, which meant each day was filled with multi-tasking, and late night sessions to complete an assignment ready for submission the next day. There was little time for play, and if there were extra moments, those belonged to my daughter. As a result, the marriage failed, and gaining my freedom just became a greater opportunity to get more done, in as little time possible. I was the “hare” in the race.

I competed with myself, through the eyes of others. A good decade, and then some, older than the average student; married then divorced; a single mom on welfare, while very insecure about academic writing; these essential elements of me only fed my desire to make good. Determined, I set out to become something that was shortchanged right from the beginning of my life. Success.

I created a competition for myself, which shaped my approach to everything I set my mind on.  As my children grew, and have slowly left the home nest, the hare eventually became exhausted; tempered down from mediating academic and domestic life. The creative flame, which once burned bright with passion, although dulled over time, continued a low, hidden light in the shadows. Slowly the tortoise came to be. So slow that she grew into grey.

So as the ages come to the salt and pepper phase, I am blessed with switching it up. Starting the race again, in competition on an unknown playing field, with eyes wide open, and fears in check. Like the students in college, some 35 years my junior, we are both leveled by hearing our words give import to fictional moments in time, showing loves, jealousies, insecurities and sometimes death.

There are no visuals, no lecterns to lecture behind, or advertising of a portrait. All these things would expose the greyed novice and feed the bias of audiences. Blind to the writer, the audience and performers speak whether my truth is real or fodder for what they see, not who made it. Knowing age compromises, or blurs the lines of acceptable art.

So, a new decision, long in the making, has switched things up. I show up each week, hoping to find some inner humbled light shining on a jewel, hoping my words see the place, and understand the psyches. Words that for so many years failed me — so I sought out others with similar talents, as a way of turning up the light burning inside.

The maker, or builder, of tableaus creates images that move on a stage. I sit as this computer, marking when the curtain rises, and at the same time, for this moment in a life’s journey, I can more confidently choose when the curtain falls.