I walk up the stairs carting the vacuum and the laundry basket, and in that moment I am that woman. My rage erupts and stays with me as I scrub the tub and scour the toilet and wipe down the tile floor. But I am not that woman, as I put away my (and only my) laundry. As I make lunch for my self, as I lace up my shoes and run alone, not talking to any passerby, not telling anyone where I am going or when I will be back. I am not that woman as I watch whatever I want on television, as I sit in my sweaty clothes on the porch. Quiet, but most importantly, alone.
He offers to make dinner and I offer to go to the store. To help. He doesn’t need that. I am free to sit longer, to stare off into space longer, to meet no one else’s needs other than my own. We are a house of unmade beds, and I am not that woman.
A victim of, a hostage to, complaisant in convention.
On Mother’s Day and other things I’m generally frustrated about…
- A party at the house. Planned by my housemate, a man I admire. People I don’t know. People I don’t know if I want to know. People who smell good and look nice and use funny words. I bought flowers and drank champagne and cut cheese and arranged meats and wiped down surfaces. The house looked shiny and warm, buttery. The wood surfaces gleaming and inviting. I felt like home. I didn’t mind who came in, because it’s mine and they can enter but that doesn’t grant access. Too many people, too much time. I sat quietly and laughed at jokes. I sat outside on the porch by myself. I felt how I always feel. I wanted the last couple with their daughter to leave. The party ended at 8p. They were still sitting on my couches at 8:30p. I snuck away to a steamy shower. I started to feel invaded.
- College graduation and a reminder that college’s most valuable lesson was that I still had more to learn, and more people to meet. My desire to engage in critical conversation was fed and nourished by college, the first place out of anywhere and perhaps the most out of anywhere. I feel frustrated at a campus that limits my ability to engage in critlife. Because Midwest nice. Because love. Because people think to be in love is to be all-accepting. That is not my love.
- To be a woman on Mother’s Day, when so much of my life is spent mothering people. My students, my friends, my coworkers, my siblings, my parents. To feel like your fate has been decided. And not to want what maybe you truly want. Do I want to be a mother? When my whole life has been preparation for motherhood? The girl child running around my house last night. I did not speak to her. I barely looked at her. There was a boy child who needed constant attention. People find my avoidance of children cold and somehow telling. I think the U.S. coddling of children, the way we prioritize children, is disgusting. Is troubling. Is unhealthy and damaging. When I was a child, I wanted to be a peer to the adults in my life. I did not want to be treated differently or excluded from adult life. I now treat children the same way I treat adults. From a healthy distance.
- I want a sober attitude. I want a balanced mindset. I want new challenges to inspire me to try new solutions, rather than tempting me to throw myself on the floor. I show up to work because that is all that is expected of me. That is easy. I can accomplish that, at least. I can get here and be physically present, at least.
I want to wander and dream, and I’m tired of feeling punished for that desire. I’m tired of feeling constricted. Constrained. Is it a real punishment or only a feeling I have internalized? I don’t want a life you find in a catalog, in a magazine. I won’t pose myself in tasteful frames with artful filters in the trendiest fashions with the cutest smile. My bed sheets are clean, but wrinkled. My dresser is good quality but covered in a thin layer of dust. I comb my hair but let it swirl around my face. All this to say, what? I fight, I resist in my very own way. It’s important to me, although subtle. This is my rejection of values in a world I will not uphold.
Some days, everything hurts. I spend the weekend napping, swallowing ibuprofen, cleaning and listening and absorbing, trying to distance myself from the ache in my chest. Anything that feels good. I know there are days of surprise inspiration. Days of surprise hope. Days that turn that sinking feeling upside down. Days that feel like soaring.
Is it PTSD? Is it historical trauma? Is it nothing, other than an obsessive mind and a negative veil?
I take a break. A break from thinking about how I think. I read thirty pages and four chapters of a novel. A gift for my housemate I am trying to consume before I pass it onto her. I walk down the hall. I run my hand along the painted wall. All of this. And none of this.