I can still feel her there inside of me. That girl, 19 years old, hopeful, sitting on a creaky metal glider, the one she painted with stencils thinking it would look cute in her new one-bedroom apartment downtown, 56 miles from the place she’d left all she didn’t like about her current life behind. Fresh start.
She, so naive in her thinking that she’d won something in getting out, was full of a desire she couldn’t name at the time. But there it was in her body like a quiet ache, pulsing, pressing and demanding she notice.
Staring out the east window into the dimming daylight, the winter rain dangles tinsel-like all across the busy city street below, cars slice the slick wet pavement. She sighs, not knowing where to begin and feeling entirely unprepared. A lump finds her throat. An errant tear slips into the crevice between her nose and cheek. She wonders, who will care? Who will witness this life now that she’s alone?
In her heart, she believes one thing for certain, no one will care about all that came before:
the whiskey and vodka, the flying ashtray, holes in the walls, shattered dishes, splintered doorframes hinged sideways loosely, white knuckles digging into flesh, the whispers, lips pressed tight, binding secrets, the splash of water and an underwater world of no escape…
…all of this would matter to no one.
She’d pull a ripe red drapery on that show’s final performance; no curtain call needed. Washing the stage make-up from her face, she looks in the mirror and decides to do things differently. At that moment she throws all her chips on a black square called, HOPE.
She imagines herself like a blank felt board onto which she can strategically place all manner of objects – people, possessions, places, and experiences. She believes she can build a perfect life with just the right choices. She hopes.
That word, hope still brings tears to my eyes – the space of wanting and needing things to be solid and easy for once. For someone to lend a hand or answer the question I don’t even have the words to formulate. In pain, we turn to hope even when we think hope won’t be enough to erase one damaged life to make another.
What I wanted then at 19 years old, I still want today. It’s what I’ve wanted all along even though I had no way to describe my intense longing to feel connected to the world, my need to really and truly belong. Believing my past had no intrinsic value at all, I’d closed the one portal that had the potential to lead me there. And instead, I pushed into the future accepting many substitutes in my ignorance, in not knowing how to make real this mysterious desire burning in my heart.
That is until I found her again, one day, still sitting there, waiting, wanting.