“Some days I sit like a child/who’s afraid of ghosts in the night/I know ain’t nothin’ out there/I’m still afraid to turn off the lights…”
–Amos Lee (Arms of a Woman)
“Only a dreamer knows what it’s like to be homesick for a place s/he’s never been.”
–a postcard in Mrs. Paterson’s classroom
I revisit today too many times. And I tell myself to stop coming back, to move on. Anywhere. So long as it’s elsewhere. But I’m growing increasingly less convinced that this is not my home. This is where I’m grounded and sure; the lights are on and I can see everything clearly.
I know tomorrow will be like yesterday which will be like the day after next. I have learned not to hope otherwise; lest I encourage my own heartbreak. On the outside I am “even” tempered; quiet, cool, controlled, and assured. On the inside I am this way too, actually. But it’s the same double edged sword that slices good girls into dichotomies the world can’t accept so they become too damn good or self destructively bad to seal the rift.
I have never told anyone about this. Well, this one lady. Once. Who looked at me rather incredulously and proceeded to compliment me on my hair, my clothes, and point out all that is good in my life. She was supposed to be telling me why I could not see those things, except through a glass darkly. She was my first and last clinical attempt at moving beyond this place.
The one thing she did do was give these kind of todays a name. She told me I would revisit it. It would probably have some dude’s name on it, or some other disappointment. I knew that part was wrong even then. There is no dude today. No other major disappointment; in fact, things are going too good. Money, travel, shopping, and perfect bikini and eyebrow waxes included. Yet here I am 2, 3 years later. Part of her prophecy was right.
She told me, too, that I might make it through. I might not. I had been so close to not for a year that I decided to meet with her: see what was so enticing about that ledge; if it was just one of my many daydreams; how to step back from it regardless of whether it was real or imagined. But her compliments made me feel a little guilty and overall more sure than ever that no amount of sex, ice cream, Tylenol, religion, or visits with her would be enough. By the time I met her, I had tried them all.
In the few years I will have here, I will always be homesick and scared to turn out the lights on the house I have become so accustomed to; to feel my way through the dark until I find my way to a real sense of home. That makes me want to evacuate early. Cowardice, Sunday school, something I can’t name or all three keeps me on the roof, toes curled.
In the meantime, there will be ice cream, and (Mommy close your ears!) more sex, skydiving, and great bikini and eyebrow waxes. There will also be dark stools, too much sleep or none at all, sunshine like acid on my skin reminding me that I am nowhere near Happy. So far from home and yet sheltered by a place I dress in fancy curtains to pretend it is. Some days it comes close to working. On todays: not at all.