Monthly Archives: February 2014

I See You

She was a girl in a time when lipstick and perfect hemlines were of great importance,

When little women mimicked flawlessly-coiffed hairdos and pressed blouses, learned from their mothers and fashionable aunts

She followed all of the rules, and showed off all of her potential as a perfect little mother to perfect little siblings,

Validation was born of faultless pin curls and stainless sheets; of exquisite pies and unflappable emotion.

And somehow it never felt enough.

She came of age in a time that flipped everything she had ever learned upside down, and so began a life lived in seemingly vain-attempt to bridge these two worlds.

She lived in silent protest

To justify her desire for something more.

She married because she was supposed to

Thought better of it and took her first brave step on her own.

She saw skies that were too bright, and made the rules as she went along

Fell in love and bore children; torn between staying at home and working

Was a perfect hostess and textbook mother

Indulged in creativity, and the real-world as a classroom.

And somehow it never seemed enough

All the black sheep that she held, by birthright should have never been hers

But she was forever misunderstood.

She never quite fit into one world or the other,

Trying to please everyone; wanting more for herself

She realized that someday never comes.

And it wasn’t by accident, this brave ascent into unexpected adventurousness.

It took years for her to decide that if she wasn’t appreciated where she was

She would find her own niche; look elsewhere for people waiting all their lives for her with open arms; and live exactly where she was meant to be.

Without judgement

She remains misunderstood by those that once thought they knew her best,

But she leaves a mark wherever she goes despite everything everyone ever knew of her

She no longer waits for validation, because it occurred to her that she was always beautiful.

And she finally believes she is worth it.

Sombre

I am half-sleeping

Re-living conflict.

Lines that shouldn’t be crossed,

Meanings lost in interpretation.

I was a diamond

All the while you were casting me as villain,

And I’m okay –

Smiling in constant state of unhappy.

Depression is scary;

You’ve got to know where to look.

It’s easy to follow narrative; easier still to fall into it.

Remembering names and faces of lies

While I’m spewing truth.

I whisper on repeat “don’t worry”

But hear, “No, we really don’t want you home.”

“No, I don’t choose you.”

I almost forfeited half a dozen times

And I stepped on every crack.

I once chose you over the greatest love of my life….

And bathed in being the only one on your side

But you turned your back on me and he never saw me the same way again.

Every day I’d think about how his mother went away

And I’ve always been aware that she made me stay

Somewhere I got lost along the way.

But I’ve known since the day I was born that I am just like her.

I hope I don’t go because headstones aren’t big enough to hold all the words I want to say.

I was built with armour; born with it maybe.

And rage lies right beneath my spirit.

I’d write you a poem to make you happy,

Shed tears for trips we didn’t take to the mall

Replay times you didn’t choose me, wanting to shout to you

Step back!

You’re fucking wrong!

I used to want to put you up on a pedestal.

Hoping if I professed my love the most, you’d pick me.

Making makeshift swords and knives, fighting off the hurt for you.

Tossing compassion out with no return

Don’t tell me there are no heroes.

I am a treasure, screaming to be found beneath the sand.

My confidence was born of Oprah and Donahue

And the eyes that I inherited

Are waiting to be amazed

I wish there was a yellow brick road

Friends with hearts and courage and thought.

I lost my greatest ally for you.

Letters that I want to write and want to send, but are never destined to be seen

I call bullshit on “you are the only one responsible for your feelings.”

Because that would require the ability to see around corners when we are young,

An inborn depth of perception that would allow children to choose.

Grown-ups capable of separating themselves from all that they ever were and all that they were ever meant to be.

I wonder how I ever trusted you

I wonder what I ever did with the cape I kept hidden in the toy box.

What I’ve got is all I need

Though I can only write when I’m unhappy.

I was beautiful beyond measure despite the narrative you’ve all created for me.

Take the time to analyze

See me.

It doesn’t matter what you think about me when I was there.

I lived and loved before a time when you were here.

This feels like the biggest lie I’ve ever told.

It’s just not how it ought to be.

I’ve petitioned for every story I told

And I have a story to tell

But first I have to buy it.

I never lie to myself.

I reinvent myself,

But I’m okay.

And laughter is my shield.

I’ve stopped being surprised by non-wishes,

Because the truth is

I’m already gone.

I need something or someone to lean against.

I need you to tell me to stay.

Sometimes I think too much

I just can’t hold my breath hoping you’ll answer why.

Escape

I had time to start reading a book today; one that was generously gifted to me by a complete stranger.

It’s not often that I find time to indulge in perceived frivolities. And it’s important to get lost in stuff that doesn’t matter sometimes isn’t it?

I’ve often felt an overwhelming need to escape the incessant thoughts that linger in my mind when I’m not busy –  and having a sliver of time to read a book about psychic psychology is a healthier escape than helping myself to a fourth glass of wine, one might argue.

I prefer to indulge in tandem… when I find the time.

I can’t say for certain what I’ve read. I find myself reading the same sentence five or six times before I can move on to the next. It’s not that I’m trying to process what I’ve just read; rather that I didn’t care much for what the words were the first four times.

Maybe I’m just not that into it.

But still, I escape every once in a while.

I find myself increasingly sensitive to the vibrations of others instead of building thicker armour. It’s kind of depressing to know how many people harbour ill-will and dark intention.

Actually, it’s exhausting.

When I was younger, I saw everyone in  yellow and orange; today most of them are grey.

Maybe it was childlike optimism, or maybe I see clearer now.

Maybe I’ve just become jaded.

I come from a long line of people that yearned to escape.

I’m hyper-aware that I’m one of the last ones standing.

On Silence

silence

I like to talk – so this may seem inconceivable to those that know me well, or even to anyone who has taken a seat within earshot of me: I do appreciate silence.

I used to dread silence. I think a lot of people do. It can be superbly uncomfortable. Like, for instance, when you’re in  a group of people who are all talking excitedly about something and every time you finish a sentence, another person eagerly agrees with what you are saying, and picks up where you left off, then secondary conversations are spawned out of the first, and everyone is nodding and agreeing and smiling, and there’s laughter, and none of you can believe that you’re all on the same page and having this fantastic conversation.

And it all feels very fluid and natural and you’re amazed that you haven’t always known each other…. And then someone gets a little too excited and expresses an idea that is totally inappropriate and has nothing to do with what you were all just talking about….Their words just linger there, kind of hanging above all of you – all thick and filthy and hideous….Silence. I hate that. Somebody say something!

I grew up in a house where there were seven of us. There was never any silence. I mean, I truly don’t think I ever remember a time when there was silence. Because, even on the infinitesimally rare occasion that someone wasn’t talking, there was always music. And music meant that somewhere in the house, my mom was dancing.

There always seemed to be at least one baby in the house. Aside from my parents having my brothers ions apart from us, my mom ran a daycare – so there were children around every corner. Always. And when the children weren’t there, we were a home for international students from Japan, Spain, Mexico that came to Canada to study. – they were quiet. It was us!

The more people in our house, the louder we decided to speak. Add to that, my extended family, which is huge on both sides. We mostly got together every Sunday. To be a part of one of our family gatherings as an outsider, I’m sure, must’ve felt impossible. With a French and Irish background, the stories, and music and laughter (and children being born!) is unending.

And it’s never silent.

But I loved it! I wouldn’t change anything about that organized chaos of my youth. When I moved out of my parents’ house, I thought for certain that I would crumble under the weight of silence.

We went on a lot of family vacations when I was young, which meant that we took a whole lot of road trips. My favourite part of being on the road, was always late at night or in the pre-sunrise hours, when everyone was asleep except for my dad who kept the music on low as he drove. I’d lay my head in such a way that I could watch the stars in the sky remain fixed despite the fact that we were moving. I ‘d be lulled to sleep by the constant hum of our Dodge Caravan, the rising and falling of other travellers’ cars and the heartbeat-sound created by driving over evenly-spaced seams on the highway.

My least favourite part was sensing that we were pulling off the highway into a rest area. – the rhythm of the road was interrupted, the sound of the engine changed, and there would be a brief moment right after the ignition was turned off but before anyone stirred, that screamed of absolute silence. I HATED that.

The first time I ever experienced true silence, I was 20 years old. It was 1998. I had dropped out of the Broadcast-Television programme at Mohawk College, was “between jobs” and was all about just “finding myself.” So, I did what any reasonable young adult with no job and absolutely no money would do: I decided one night to hop in a big red van with two of my cousins and head West.

My cousins had lived out of this van before, and had real talent. They were musicians and they played guitar for money on the sidewalks of every small town from here to the Pacific Ocean. I, on the other hand, cannot play guitar and cannot sing, and decided that I would make bracelets to sell. What a bunch of hippies! As an aside, my cousins stayed out West and are quite successful with their music, while I didn’t last as long as I expected to, and haven’t made a bracelet since… But the journey!! It was all about the journey, wasn’t it?

We travelled through the States on the way West and I convinced them that they just HAD to stop in South Dakota. I had been there when I was eight with my own family and they just had to see the Corn Palace! And Mount Rushmore! And the Badlands! (South Dakota is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I have ever been and highly recommend that you put it on your bucket list!)

After a stop at Mount Rushmore, we were all like, “Let’s allow the wind to take us wherever we should go mannnnnn,” and we ended up in Custer State Park, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Within the park, there’s an area called The Wildlife Loop. It’s where they filmed parts of Dances With Wolves! The park boasts 71,000 acres of land where the buffalo still roam free and there isn’t a car or another human being in sight. It’s as close as you can get to the untouched-beginning of time that exists on this continent, and it was magnificently silent.

We spent a good amount of time there that day, wandering aimlessly, commenting about the purity of the air we were breathing, and how far we were from the rest of civilization. My cousins posed for pictures that they thought might make for a good album cover and I seared that day in my memory as the most magically-tremendous, and real moment of my entire life. Silence.

The only time I’ve come close to that kind of silence living in the city was during the Blackout of August 2003. It was nighttime and there wasn’t a car on the road, there wasn’t a hum of a fridge nor buzz of a streetlight. People came out of their houses because air conditioners didn’t work and there was nothing to do inside. I remember looking up at the sky and seeing a million stars, because there was no light to block them out. It’s easy to forget that they are always there. I was 38 weeks pregnant with Jayden and I fell asleep with my front door wide open to the sound of crickets. Silence.

I had several apartments on my own while I was going to school and I came to really appreciate the quiet. It wasn’t until I would visit my family that I realized how very loud we all were.

I’ve just recently come to experience silence again after 10 years of having at least one child with me at all times. But it’s never *truly* silent in my empty house. There’s always the sound of the refrigerator, or the furnace kicking in, and the constant hurry of cars on the Expressway nearby. Recently, we’ve added the sound of water circulating through our fish tank. But generally speaking, it’s quiet and I enjoy it when I get it.

I think it’s important to spend some time in the quiet. I always wake before my kids to enjoy a cup of tea before we get busy with our day. Some mornings it’s pretty close to silent and I notice things. Like this morning, when it was still dark, and I peeked outside my front window and it looked as though someone had dropped fistfuls of glitter all across the snow. It was lovely – but disappeared once the sun came up.

I also don’t feel a need to fill in the empty spaces of conversation with mindless chatter anymore. I’m comfortable with just sitting silently and absorbing the words that have already been spoken.

I’ve come to learn that silence is only sad when it replaces a house full of laughter. It’s only lonely when you don’t love yourself enough to sit in solitude, and it’s only frightening when negativity reigns.

Silence now.

 

Published in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge