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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lions at the Door; Ants in the Sink

I know the majority of people who know me think I'm loud, sometimes funny, sometimes obnoxious, some have said strong, some have said fierce. One has said resilient. I like that one best. The funny thing is I don't really think I'm any of those, except the resilient one. I'm Teflon, for sure. All the women in my family had to be. You take what they slap you in the face with and you figure out how to use it to make a meal for 5.

For a long time, I was like that. I remember this boy from Arkansas Governor's School - Roger, I think his name was. I'm FBed with him, but I can't remember his name right now (damn class 2 drugs...). Anyway, I had this horrrrrible crush on him and anything he said to me, I mentally tattooed on my brain for reference later. He was wonderful and funny, so it's not like this was misplaced "love". Anyway, he one time said he noticed that when I took the stairs coming down, I always jumped and hopped to miss the last one or two steps, like I was excited and bouncy. I liked that image of me, even though it was disjointed and all together wrong. But I liked it and I wanted to be it.

The funny thing was I actually wanted to be like those misunderstood girls I read about or saw on tv, the ones that are mysterious because they hardly talk and when they do it's something terribly deep. This was not a reality at 16 for me. I ran my mouth like a lawnmower. I was always memorizing really good comics' bits to redo in front of other people, inserting my own patter so I could be entertaining, because I truly felt that was my unofficial job. I must entertain.

When I was in grade school, I wasn't always like that. I remember auditioning for this little 6th grade play some of the guys in our class had written based on a Shakespearean play (no, they are not the ones that started that trend in Hollywood). In my head, I knew how every single line needed to be read. I could see them clearly and knew how to move, how to gesture, everything. When it came time for my turn, I barely mumbled my lines. I was lucky I even got a speaking part. I had two lines, neither of which was worth remembering or repeating.

Somewhere along the line, I let go of whatever stone was in front of my mouth. I let everything go. I wasn't always rude. I just wasn't always overly polite. I didn't ask permission to give my opinion, which apparently is a huge no-no in the South, and particularly for women. I pretty much assumed that because it was funny, people would listen to what I'd say. And they did. Of course, some people held it against me and I'd suffer later.

Lately, I've been more withdrawn. Maybe it's because I barely speak to anyone during the day at my job. I don't really have to. I already hate talking on the phone, so this is just one step farther. Text messaging for someone like me is fantastic. I don't even have to acknowledge I've seen it. Who would know, seriously?

A couple of weeks ago, something odd happened. I went to a party for a friend. I knew only the person who invited me and one other person. I had just come from a rehearsal, so the songs we practiced were in my head and I hummed or sang parts of them throughout the day, not during anything important, but still. A few days later, my husband asks me if I'm okay. I kind of feel around my arms, legs, belly. Yes, I'm okay. Well, he says, he's heard from someone that they're concerned about me because I wasn't acting my normal self. One person had commented that it appeared like I was on drugs (I am thank you for noticing.), but I chalked this up to my singing about. In fact, the other person that I knew there had somehow become so angry about something I had done - unbeknownst to me at the time - that she had decided to cut me out of her life partially.

I was, understandably, stunned. No, I take that back. I was pissed. I was. I was pissed that things I had done as myself had been misconstrued, repackaged, and relabelled into something slightly resembling the truth, but not enough to actually be the truth.

Junior high school started seeping in under my door and it made me mad and sickeningly sad all at once. I had another rehearsal just 30 minutes after being told this, and it so wrecked me that I couldn't say hello to many people coming in because I kept bursting into tears.

It's stupid, I know. I had all my limbs. I was employed. I had a great family. There was nothing truly wrong with me. But somehow, my anger balled itself up and produced itself in the form of tears. I was hurt that people were talking behind my back. But I was mostly pissed - and I think I said this out loud, even - that I had grown-up problems to deal with and didn't have this kind of time on this planet to worry about little things like this. And it pissed me off that I didn't.

I was utterly and soberly pissed off that I no longer had the time to worry about petty things. I had my big girl panties on and had to worry about things that removed people from this earth and took others out of their homes. Worry about whether or not someone took your chair just wasn't on my list of luxury worries. And I was pissed that it was on someone else's, that they had taken the time to ensnare me in this type of drama, spin me around, and try to make this thing important.

I want to be truly Buddhist about this. I want to have compassion for these people and chant for them to be enlightened. At the same time, I want to push pins into their tires. That's the bad Buddhist side of me.

I don't wish these people ill; I just wish them better. I don't wish that they only had hard things to deal with, sweeping away the need to focus on the tiny; I just wish they saw the lions at my door and didn't try to distract me with the ants in the sink.




copyright - All rights to the work posted on this site are retained by Cass Van Gelder. If you'd like to use some of my work, please ask. To do so, the permissions must be spelled out in writing...from me...I meant it. I have mean cats; don't make me use them.

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