This morning, I arrived at the intersection of mortality and denial. The past, present, and future sat at a cafe table, sipped lattes, and watched as my steps became hesitant.
The past delicately placed a five on the table. “My money’s on knowledge. She’s seen this one before and chose–well, if not wisely, then correctly.”
Present added a fiver. “I don’t know. Lately, she’s been just waiting and not doing. I’m going with what I see now.”
Future smirked and placed a ten under the cold candle. “You all know I have to cover both positions.”
I looked both ways and sighed. There must be a third choice I cannot yet see. Frost may have gotten it wrong. I took out my notebook and started writing down the possibilities.
Wings sprouted from my shoulders and lifted me up, over the intersection, over the obstacles, away from the cafe. From above, I could see both roads. I clutched my notebook to my chest and smiled. So, the writer’s way, then.
A passing waiter collected the money off the table and smiled at the trio staring openmouthed as I disappeared.
I sling words with feeling without skimming on the surface like a cockroach across a puddle.
I get drunk and cry with my pen instead of writing about my tears. Anyone can do that.
I drag myself through a slimy alley of darkness and live to keep it a secret.
I don’t have time to spout pretty words and platitudes and cocktail party phrases.
My life, my existence is this: every word counts.
Every stinking drop of sweat on this table is a poem. Every lamentation for lost vices pushes a limit. Every painful sunrise is a testament to being laid bare every night.
Every click of the compressor motor on the refrigerator counts down to the end, closer than the beginning, and I am alive to feel every second of it, taste every bitter dreg of it, lose myself in all the places where I don’t matter.
I lost a day somewhere in the ether where beer, getting old, and christian holidays mix together in a stew of oh, I don’t know, maybe a lot of bullshit?
I was thinking today about how I want to be liked by strangers. Not loved, not desired. Liked. As if my wellbeing depends on what some random piece of shit says to me. I feel guilty when slights occur, as if I have some kind of power over someone else to feel a certain way. I thought about this when a friend of mine got dragged very harshly by some people and I wanted to defend her, but short of saying that they were scum sucking sociopaths, I was stumped. Years ago, someone browbeat me in an online conversation that I was blindsided by and had no answer for, so I shut down. What I really wanted to do was go after the person with both fists and as many insults as I could hurl, but I didn’t.
It came to me that I was raised to be nice. Be nice. Be nice, put others first. Be nice, your wants don’t matter. Be nice, don’t hurt others’ feelings. Be nice, excuse others’ behavior.
I turned into a doormat. I turned into a pile of mush. I was weak-willed because of the constant admonition to be nice. I sincerely regret that I took that to heart. It caused me no end of trouble my whole life. I became someone I am not. Be nice.
I admired in a limited way, people who spoke for themselves, ever mindful when they would fall off the “nice” track. They were then bad, and therefore unworthy of my time or attention.
I see all this with a keen hindsight and no small amount of anger, but-no, I’m done being nice. I’m done excusing my shitty upbringing. I’m done dealing with other people’s arrogance because for sure, I’m not storing jewels for my crown in heaven. There is no passing grade. This is it.