8 03 2011

What better time to exorcise a few demons than the week of my birth?

This time last year I was so lost within a hell of my own creation I couldn’t even bear the prospect of a single one of my friends cheerily wishing me a happy birthday. I was so consumed by shame, so wrapped up in my own isolation, the very thought of a face turned toward me in kindness was like a hot brand on my heart–sizzling, burning, marring. I hid from everyone. A game of hide-and-seek where the whole world was to count and find, except…was there a single person who came looking for me? The day passed me by unremarked, unacknowledged, bereft of cake…candles…smiles. The day of my birth was just another in an endless string of days of death.

Is this true?

That depends on what you mean by true, doesn’t it? Did I really go the entire day of March 9th, 2010 without seeing a single soul? No. Even I wasn’t that good at playing invisible. There were people who wished me a happy birthday. There were even people who expressed their sentiments in the form of sappy songs. I did not allow any of them to touch my heart in any real way.

Let me say something of loneliness here in the form of two short anecdotes.

My birthday landed right in the height of my library visiting days. For a few months I was hitting up the tiny little Abilene, Texas public library at least four times a week, for there was this librarian who worked there…she was cute but not beautiful, attractive in ways that would grow on you but not particularly arresting if it weren’t for the quiet desperation she held in every line of her body. There was a fragility to the way she stood behind the counter; her movements betrayed a long-settled sorrow. Her smile could only ever tease the corners of her mouth. The pain that made its home in her face was far too heavy for fleeting amusement to ever climb up to her eyes.

I knew her work schedule (Wednesdays and Saturdays except last month you skipped a weekend) and planned my visits around it. I had the perfect chair picked out, angled so that I could see her work station from the corner of my eye but it wouldn’t be obvious that I was staring. Four days a week for at least three months and I never once spoke to her. She was one of my top 5 closest friends that spring.

I went for walks almost nightly, always leaving around midnight and often not returning until well after 3am. It was the only time of day Abilene felt less than hostile. I always walked barefoot. One night about halfway along on my typical neighborhood circuit my uneasy peace was shattered by the sounds of merriment. A gaggle of college students had gathered in one of the neighborhood garages for a game of beer pong. The door to the garage was 3/4 closed, piercing the night with rays of light and flashes of movement. I sat in the darkened shadows beneath a neighbor’s honeysuckle bush for over an hour, just listening.

Tomorrow I will speak of life.




One response

30 03 2011
Subbing for Eden

[…] tell a lot of stories about how miserable I was in Texas, particularly in the last six months of my time there. Sometimes […]

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