My poems started reflecting things, the cat that died, surviving disasters, stuff like that… My dreams started getting even more trippy than usual. I mean, the cast of characters spans 40 years of life, and stuff just gets weirder every night. I dream often of houses, filled with crazy nooks and hidden spots, and Escherian stairwells. The houses are all different, but all complicated and full of secrets. Almost every room in these houses contains something or someone that I have business with in some way. There’s ex-boyfriends and a few that got away, old friends, family, and lots and lots of children and babies, some mine, some not mine, all needing help, care, love, shelter, mothers.
And so I see how my life’s path bleeds into everything. Like how seeing a mother and young daughter at a store picking out fabric for bedroom curtains together takes me to those places and times when I was that mother, and my daughter and I spent time enjoying one another, shopping and looking at interesting things, sharing laughs. And I probably watch the two a little too closely, and a little too sadly, but I almost always look away before they notice. And while the wind blows through the hole in my heart, I try to relax and pretend it’s just a cool breeze. And I change the subject in my head before it can whisper my daughter’s name too loudly.
On the street I see people walking, favoring one side of their body, and I remember waiting for my smile to grow less crooked every day after the stroke. I try not to stare - not only because it’s rude, but because they will assume I’m just staring at the asymmetry, and they won’t know that what I’m feeling is connection. They won’t know that I notice a little crooked in my smile every day still, and a little extra weakness on my left side that I’m working on at the gym three days a week. They won’t know that my throat is a little paralyzed on the left too, and that I have to watch how I swallow. They will think that I think they’re a freak show, and they won’t know that really I feel just the same inside.
At the store I see a mother struggle with a child most people think is “too old’ to have that kind of tantrum. I see the stares of the people around her, and the way others walk as fast as they can past something they don’t want to see. I want to yell on her behalf, you don’t know what it’s like, you don’t have a clue! I want to tell her that I do, I do know what it’s like, and I will never forget all the stores I had to leave, cart full of groceries or clothes, holding tight to a flailing child I could barely carry anymore. I want to tell her that she’s not alone, that I know she’s doing everything she can. I want to tell her it will get better. But of course, I can't even begin to know that for her.
And so I go on through these pieces of life, every day moments, one after another, and I'm beginning to see where I fit, and where the moments fit, and I know that my past is a bunch of signposts that I followed and that I'm still following signposts. And I know that next year if I’m lucky there will be new things to notice and remember, and so on. And so forth.
Every day, I see how I fit into the world a little bit more. Every day I notice this change, because I was never someone who fit in. I know I’ll never be that stylish, snazzy looking woman with her head held at that perfect angle, hair flowing behind her as she walks gracefully in 3 inch heels. But there’s a place for me. I make it myself, more and more each day, and it’s mine, and I belong.