Wearing White

I used to disappear on purpose. I’d lag back behind a crowd and wait to see how long it would take before he’d noticed I was gone. A few times I even ducked behind trees—and tried to blend into a landscape that was larger and more colorful than me.

When he’d make his way to the car, without hesitation, and without ever reaching for my hand, I’d pretend I lost him and act like nothing happened. Erasure is supposed to be subtle, but I watched myself disappear from his eyes piece by piece. My hands came first, my body last. I can’t remember when he no longer saw my tears, but I vividly recall the first day I no longer knew how to cry.

#99miles

#99miles

No one prepares you for the second time. It is always the first that holds our imaginations. Pure and magnificent, we are all masterminds of the dreams we pass on to our children.  We are the leading actors of an ideal we will mourn when they too, cannot capture it. And finally, we will scorn them for it.

But there is no road map for the return to love. Redefining happiness takes a million miles and it is certainly messy business. In the beginning you spend all your time trying to pretend you aren’t scarred, beaten, and exhausted. And the day after, you spend all your time trying to explain why.

But then he loves you anyway. And it is in this place where the confusion comes. And you stay here a very very long time.

And then he loves you anyway.

The place where it no longer matters who you once were is lonely, scary, and freeing. Even your friends can’t exist here with you because they’ll pull you back, remind you of the poison you consumed every day, and when they aren’t looking, they’ll remind you of the poison you gave out. And they’ll validate it.  It is for this reason most of us twitch, struggle, wiggle, and squirm ourselves into staying the same. It is for this reason we hide the wrinkles, camouflage the scars, and wipe away the blood until we are perfect again. And we are never told about how pure and magnificent we will be when the suffering stops.

I ordered my wedding dress yesterday without ever trying it on. I am uncertain how my thrice pregnant belly will look cloaked in off-white and beads, but I can’t bring myself to care, because it is too late for perfect. I no longer stay one place for long. There’s a million miles to travel now, and more suffering will surely begin tomorrow. But I no longer blend well into trees.

The Code

I was born with two first names and one last, and this always confused me. Mandy was a child’s name, and my mother explained to me that one day…I could call myself Amanda. I never thought I would call myself Amanda.

My birth right was settled long before I came to bare it.  A destiny set forth by people I would barely know and some I would love long after they left me.  So it is with genes…the ones we inherit, the ones we spend a lifetime trying to squeeze out of.  Mandy came with a personality produced of steel.  I was made of energy, a vision of fire and ice; I could only be touched for a moment.

Except I was born for staying.  Just another girl in a long line of women who would love…be lied to…and stay.  Unknowingly, I spent my days wearing that badge proudly. I spent my nights screaming at him for it. My therapist says being stuck is usually about one of two things…love or loyalty. I am what happens when you love the wrong thing and are loyal to the pain.

I suppose my rhythm has a code to it. A code both predetermined and set in place each day of my life. There were certain rules that were not to be broken. So it is with life, each day we reinforce in ourselves that which we never chose in the first place.

Except I find myself now, with two first names and no last.  And I can’t help but remember the moment, just seconds before my wedding, when sheer panic filled my body at the thought of changing my last name.  I was a Hill…and too much like my father to know better. My new last name came with a family who hated me before they met me. I wasn’t ready to give up the only name that ever felt like home. It felt like me…Mandy, Amanda…it made no difference. 

My divorce was final in July, and I’m now left with a name that never really felt right. I belong to people who never cared to know me. And my old last name belongs to people who knew me and left. And so I have two first names and no last.  I spend my life trying to find words to describe how that feels. And I know that by doing that, I’m half living and half dying. Because life is lived forwards and understood backwards. I’m caught trying to do both and am barely moving.

Renaming the past means you leave something out…a forgotten detail, a lie that becomes the truth. A story retold is but fragments of what really happened. Of what was really felt. Its laughter without the pain it covers.  Mandy was good at laughing, and too many people made me pay for it.

Renaming the present means changing the code. It means I squirm inside each time you describe me with the old script. Please forgive me for changing. Amanda is good at crying and too many people make me pay for it.

So for now, I guess I have two first names and no last.

Wild Things

Today, I’ve been stuck on the absence of things. Emptiness, I suppose, is the realization that things are no longer as they once were. Space unfilled, seems like a void, except it is not.  Funny I’m back to thinking about opposites, and amazed to discover that the opposite of empty… is not full.

What lies deep inside my loneliness, is my ability to heal.  Like a winter perennial quietly waiting for spring, when things are removed, they are not always gone. Amanda Carrier BlogInstead, they lie deep inside me…searching quietly for nourishment.  Weeds feeding on next to nothing, my roots are spreading beneath and inside me all at once.  Extending who I am…reaching out and connecting me to the earth, and to you.

For years, I had six acres of my own land covered in creeping Charlies.  I spent hours pulling them each week. My hands tired and pained from the gripping, and of course from the ripping.  One day, I came home to my husband spraying them with weed killer. Armed with a pump and a hose, he casually sprayed my nemesis and explained that this would be the only way they wouldn’t come back.

Except that I wanted them to come back.  This was my chapel, my ritual, and I tugged and pulled at those creeping, crawling monsters and marveled at their ability to always beat me.  To me, this is not a weed.I marveled more at how confusing it was to pull and rip at a weed who produced delicate purple flowers.

It always took me two hours to remove all the purple and all the green from front yard.  And when I was done, I always knew I would be back.  For down below they were already growing, spreading and reaching.  Making the connections that would sustain their life.  If there is a cycle to this, it always turns on hope, even when we can’t feel it.  It feeds on a smile from a stranger, a door held open by the loss that proceeded it, an idea of a promise, the foundation of a second chance.

Until then, I’m trying to respect the silence, even if it is my enemy.  In my darkest hour, vacant and alone, I am still sifting through the absence of sound. I want to be inside it, to dance amidst the vibrations that remain, even as you no longer speak to me.  I was yours before you loved me, and when you walked away, I am still yours forever more.

Yes, wild things grow on less than a little.

Chasing the Sun

I think I’ve had a thousand beginnings.  And each one is slightly less scary than the one before.  I used to plan ahead, remain perched upon what was supposed to happen, instead of feeling what was actually happening. I’m less obsessed with the future now, as I understand it will always remain slightly out of my reach.Chasing the Sun

I imagine the earth feels this way about the sun…Always rotating trying to feel its warmth upon its face.  I must have thought the future held some contract of dreams fulfilled, lies untold, promises kept.  But the future keeps rotating…changing, always just slightly out of my reach.

But the sun remains a steady companion.  It greets me each morning, wakes me with a fresh promise.  Things are going to keep changing…but what was once old, will be come new again.  The beginnings will keep coming, and the endings are yet another promise. There is certainty here–a comfort in the process.  If losing love is like a window through my heart, regaining it must feel like a moment stuck in time.

I’m starting to sense that it is the present that offers the real possibility.  No longer searching for dreams fulfilled because I am too busy fulfilling them. I don’t question the chance, the inevitable opportunity that comes with new beginnings.  And I do not fear the end. This place used to feel like hope abandoned. Now, it has become a consummation of possibility.

The wildness, that must occupy this space, is palpable.  I feel it with each passing decision even as I abandon all logic.  I can both articulate it and forget it all at once.  And if I remain here long enough, sunlight on my face, my past will be wiped clean by somebody else’s  dream.  And with each lover’s touch, not even the fingerprints will remain.

Naivety of Flying

There is a naivety to flying, as though I thought the wind would never change.  I can’t remember how long I’ve been up here, or what I did to find this place, but I just realized how far I have to fall.   It seems it’s been months since I couldn’t find my breath, and now I find myself choking on it. It is both my vessel and my obstacle at the same time.  Flying

I think wind must be like the seasons. It’s tides change with the earth below it.  As though it is urging fall forward, bringing with it crisper nights and mornings that seem newer than the one before.  I watch my hands desperately trying to harbor it.  I want to hold the wind in my hands. I want it to urge me forward. But it keeps tricking me. It comes and goes, dances and waits.  It is teasing me.

There are moments that it urges me upward, tossing me into new atmospheres that tickle pieces of me long forgotten.  Pieces never rounded, still jagged with youth, expectation, and dreams.  Here I want to take a chance, and I forget there is no one left to catch me when I fall.

Other times the wind pushes me downward. Reminding me I have no wings, that I am small but heavy.  The pieces here are more familiar.  Their edges have been worn smooth by my hands.  My fingers and thumbs tensely working to smooth away the broken promises and lies you still won’t admit.  The irony, I suppose, is that the sleek edges of these pieces no longer fit together.  They slip on each other and fall away.

Down below…with my feet on this earth, I dance on the broken pieces and wait for the wind to catch me again.

Yes, there is a naivety to flying…as though the wind will never change.

Coming to My Senses

Somewhere around my 14th year, I forgot I had five senses.  Trusting only my ears, I lived life believing what I heard.  Words became more than simple units of language, but instead, they created the way I saw the world.  My dreams were made of thousands of small yet powerful words, dancing together…choreographing the mural that would become my life.  I suppose this makes some sort of cosmic sense, considering the second definition of word is unit of meaning.

Coming to my sensesI’m starting to know better. Because the unit of meaning, the promise behind the words, if you will, lies not in the word itself, but in the soul of the one using it.  It lies in the action…what you can see, what you ultimately get.

Yes my ears are tricksters, paying more homage to your soul than to my own.

My other senses are much more loyal, even if I was not loyal to them.  I’ve recently discovered my nose.  Taking deep breaths…cleansing smooth, quiet breaths…sends chills down my arms.  A vessel for the oxygen this body needs, my nose is my greatest life line.

In truth, I’ve always had a sense of my eyes, except that I misunderstood them.  My eyes feel like the sea, with specs of hazel no one has ever noticed.  They busily search constantly for truth. They realize the subtlety in a nervous action, the way a smile hesitates on nerves.  But they cry at sappy movies and remain dry when my heart breaks.  They are constantly trying to find answers, but acting alone in doing so.

I’m embarrassed to say, I forgot I had hands and a tongue a very long time ago.  I got little enjoyment out of the textures of my life. The nuances fooled me. I searched for silk, but felt sand.  Now I try to catch water in my hands and am mesmerized when I get to watch it leak.  I can feel water in places as dry as the desert.  I am thirsty for things I cannot drink.

The madness, I now understand, exists in a place where your senses contradict each other.  When what you hear is not what you see.  When the salty taste of his skin reeks of her floral scent.  I imagine I had a choice, go mad or turn them off.

I turned my senses off and rested on my ears.  I believed the words I’m sorry more than anything else I’ve come to know.

Lying dormant for so long, I yearn for a life where I taste and feel my way along the path. Perhaps my coming to my senses journey, means walking through life backwards for a while, allowing my hands to smoothly sweep away my footprints, because I no longer think getting lost is a waste of time.

And when I’m ready to stop walking backwards…I’ll feel myself forwards.  I’ll become the incomprehensible silence that lies at the moment your senses no longer collide. My coming to my senses journey When the smell of fire is the same as your lovers touch, eyes that don’t turn away, a kiss on the nose, and the words I love you.

Until then, I’ll ride the textures of my experiences.

And I will not name them.

The Whirlwind

Standard Armenian carousel, 1930s-2000s
Image via Wikipedia

Time passing is supposed to be slow, yet I can feel its movement on my face.  It’s a cool breeze, the type you don’t notice until it stops.  It reminds me of a slow whirlwind, as though my future is stuck chasing time’s past.  This is happening around me and in me, I can watch it happen and feel it happen all at the same time.

As it spins me, I try to find my footing.  It reminds me of the first few seconds on a merry-go-round.  I’m not dizzy yet, but soon will be. I try to  find my barring, focus on something on the horizon, and wait as I gain momentum.  I’m stuck going slow, but anticipating fast.

While searching for that stable place on the horizon, I swear I caught a glimpse of who I was supposed to be.  She’s different, has hair made of fire.  She’s on the run, swiftly embarking on the journey I forgot to take.

I’m trying to find something common between that girl and me.  Something common in that journey and the one I chose.  But it feels now like the life I never chose, chose me.  A moment of pause to take stock of my life. I never wanted this and thank God for this all at once.  Here I am again…refusing to choose the pieces of me that are the loudest.

I used to think broken things were meant to be put together again.  Pieces confused me, I needed things to be whole. And so I repaired the items and people in my life with glue and a lot of pressure.  I heard once a broken bone renewed was actually stronger than its previous self.  Cracks adhere to each former piece and literally disappear.

But the idea now that I am a unique, stable, whole self is laughable.  As the merry-go-round turns, I see piece after piece after piece of a changeable, confusing, complicated me.  I am that girl with fire hair, and I am that woman trying to find a stable place on the horizon.  I am the future and time’s past all at once.

Catch me if you can.

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Just the Words

I heard the words ripple around me, slowly at first, settling only when the placidity of the moment deadened the place I visit when I close my eyes tightly. The place of comfort, usually warm, but uncomfortable when it gets too hot. Actions are supposed to speak louder than these words, except that words seldom exist alone.

There are some moments, some words that I cannot erase from my recollection. They visit me in the strangest moments as if they must remind me of a part of myself that still exists despite my conviction to forget. They work together with my conscious and at times are so vivid that not only do I remember them, but I hear them. I hear the tones, the pitch, the slightest breath that was taken three moments before the words changed my life forever. I wonder what my father was thinking during the three moments that he visited his conscious. Was he wondering if he really wanted to say it? Or perhaps that he so badly wanted to. So badly wanted to see the look of sheer terror drive across my mother’s face. I wonder most if he would have said it had he known I was listening.

I missed the actions that preceded these words. I missed the subtle looks, the harsh annoyances; I missed the whole event. But these words, I could not miss them. It is almost humorous to me how much I missed in this world. I hear now, I see now, I feel now. Mostly, I wonder when that happened. I wonder when I began to see the looks of pain that were so almost hidden. I wonder when I figured out the places on the body that can’t hide the pain, that can’t cover up the wounds of so many years of isolation. It is not in the eyes. Those can grow dead. It is not in the lips, they are the most deceiving of all. The pain lies in the hands and how people use them, and also in the forehead– the places most of us miss. I find it now, as I watch a hand nervously trying to cover the lips–a fools errand–hesitation slipping on truth. A forehead contemplating too much–a canvas for pain to write its story. Oh, these places I can’t stop staring at when I speak to a person.

I can’t stop myself from trying to figure them out, from trying to know them through their hands and their foreheads. I want to hear their story and then I want to tell them mine. It is not because I want them to understand. In fact, I really don’t care because it is always about me. It is about me getting rid of these words, me not wanting to hear them anymore. The more I tell the story the more it changes. I add a different word more harsh than the truth, more shocking. It is easier to believe lies than the truth. Every time the story changes it becomes less real, more far away from me. Then, the person I am speaking with must hear my words over and over in their head. When I am lucky, after I tell my story, I forget the details, usually a little more each time I say them again. Each time I speak it, it becomes someone else’s story. I become the girl they new once who…

I like being that girl.

I heard once that life is lived forwards and understood backwards. I often wonder how far back I must go to understand. I used to want to understand how he could leave all of us, but now, I just want to understand how he could have said what he said. Why did he pick those words, why did he way them with such certainty and conviction. Was he so sure of his words at that moment? Had he rehearsed them, had he chosen the perfect fit to get the perfect reaction? I will never know that part of him; I want to forget that part of me.

Everything is perfect now. Two loving parents who sleep in the same bed. The fact that he left should still irritate me, it should make me scared of what my own marriage someday will bring. But none of that matter to me, not at all. Yet the words, the phrase, the feeling, the conviction, those I still hear. I am oddly connected to these words as though it is a love affair. I often think about who I would be had I never heard them spoken. How can one sentence, one thought, build such a unique and frightening relationship? Who would I be?

I think I would be different. I wouldn’t have found out until six months later that my dad was going to leave. I would have eaten at the kitchen table and honestly believed that the random stories of installing an air conditioner for a friend meant something. Words are powerful weapons that evoke powerful emotions. But not all words. Some are futile objects selectively spoken to fill the spaces in silence that are uncomfortable. I hear so many useless words, so many useless stories. In fact, I speak even more vacant words than most. How can I tell the difference anymore? The difference between the words I cannot forget and those I so easily speak. Where does the difference lie? Is it in the message, or in the emotion of the person selecting the words? Or could it be in the intent?

Perhaps the difference lies in the face of my father when he spoke them. Or his hands, or his forehead. But I did not see his face. I only heard the words. I don’t need you and I don’t need these goddamn kids anymore. Oh how they rolled off his tongue. It was as though they knew their destination.

The oddest thing is that I have no idea what my mother said back to him. Did she have words prepared for that moment? Was she ready with a retort so perfectly refined that she knew exactly how his face would react after she said it? Was she looking at his face? At his hands, his forehead. Perhaps she had no words at all. Perhaps all I heard from her was the slightest gasp, so controlled. Yet, so scared. Or perhaps my father’s words overpowered hers. Maybe his words engulfed hers to the point where her words were no longer audible to my ears. I wonder if they were still audible to her own?

I wonder even more if these words have left her head. I wonder if they visit her in the middle of the night as they do me. I wonder if she has spoken them as many times as I have. I wonder if she has ever spoken them at all. I know she has forgiven his actions and I know she has forgiven the day he left. But I do not know if she has forgiven his words. They were just words and they were softly spoken. It was supposed to be his actions that hurt…But it was the words.

Just the words

ALC 2000