Tuesday, June 8, 2010

You are not as deep as you think you are

I remember it like it was yesterday.
My mother was washing dishes and I was pacing from the refrigerator to the dining room table and back. At that time in my life I found that I was less prone to stuttering if I could move some part of my body in a steady rhythm. I grew up with a severe stutter that only buried itself deeper and deeper into the involuntary firings of my brain as I got older. This regression went from a funny way of mimicking my best friend at the age of four to complete debilitation at the THOUGHT of needing to say something by the time I reached junior high. Ask me to read something out loud and you might as well have asked your cat to read it to you because I would go into a total state of mental and physical lock down.
I remember one summer when I couldn't say, "hello" if I answered the telephone. It wasn't the word that held me back or the "H;" it was just the fact that I was expected to say it! So I would wait until the person on the other end would finally say, "Hello?" And then I would answer them as if they were crazy; as if to imply that I had been waiting on their response for ions. "Yeeesss," I'd say, "did you not hear me the first time?"
On this particular occasion in our kitchen I was reeling about some great tragedy I had no doubt suffered that very day. I had a way of playing back an event as if Scarlett O'Hara had endured the hardship instead of me. With great dramatic fervor I recounted every second of whatever it was I felt had wounded me so. It must have been something about my lofty ambitions for fame that had started the conversation because I remember going on and on about how much it saddened me that "the people in this town are just so satisfied with going to work and coming home and going to work and coming home," and how I just couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that, "most of the kids I'm in school with don't plan past this weekend's party much less the careers they AREN'T going to pursue." I kept ranting and complaining and pitying and moaning about all these dreamless, hopeless people that frustrated me to no end until my mother finally slammed the plate she was washing down into the sink. The water was still sloshing back and forth when she slowly turned to me, both hands submerged and planted under the soapy dishwater, and said, "You aren't as deep as you think you are." I stood there stunned. "Have you ever stopped to understand that they are living their dream? That the normalcy of every day is all they ever wanted? Just because their dreams aren't as grand as yours does not mean that they don't have them or that they are any less magical."
I think she went on proving her point but after that I had tuned her out. I was still hung up on her first statement. I remember turning on my heels and ominously marching past my dad and brother who were planted in front of the television. I carried myself up the stairs, back straight, head up, as if I were supporting the weight of one of Scarlett O'Hara's dresses- dress upon petticoats upon petticoats upon slips upon corset. But it didn't matter. I liked the weight of my late teens because it made for a more dramatic collapse onto my bedroom floor. I laid there and just cried and cried. "HOW COULD SHEEEEE!!" HOW COULD SHE THINK I'M NOT AS DEEP AS I THINK I AAAAAMMM!!" She crushed me with one sentence.

Sometimes, as a child, after I had been spanked I would run to the nearest mirror and watch my reflection as I cried so that it would intensify the experience. The site of myself bawling would cause me to bawl even better! Certainly at this particular moment of devastation I did the same thing with the mirror above my dresser. I'm sure I pulled myself across the floor, and then pulled myself up until my head was just clearing the top of the dresser. That way I could watch myself crying but feel as if I were lying on the floor. I was all about the visuals.
So there I was crying about what my mother had said, and it never occurred to me that she was talking about herself; not until way later in life when I was thinking about it as an adult. I was just going on and on about how pitiful these people were and she was one of them. Well of course I felt awful and I finally understood what she was trying to say. These days I don't pity anybody with the dream or better yet the reality of just to being normal. I envy them! Of course I'm still in hot pursuit of the things I've always been chasing, more so now than ever before, but there is a part of me that wants what all those people from my hometown have. A rich, normal, everyday kind of life.
So here I am again. I have just been through a necessary break up, I'm trying to hold onto the tail of my star as it shoots across the sky without me, and I can't help but feel that I am too deep for my own good; so far from the depth that my mother THOUGHT I lacked.

More to come.