This is when

A question comes up from time to time, in activist space, in philosophical and solution-making space – if not now, when? I think we are in “when”. It’s now, it’s here, it’s…when. It’s now. We never counted on now and when being the same thing…we presumed now and THEN were different things, I believe. Then…past, and future…but not now. So, why NOT now? Why me? Why NOT me? These are the rubber-meets-the-road questions, the questions that should catapult us beyond talk, beyond good intentions, beyond “in a perfect world”. We can’t split hairs with the Universe over timing, especially since our doomsday clock is counting down seconds but still doesn’t inspire us to do anything differently. Especially since we are but a blip on the radar of infinity, and not a solid blip…one that blinks and fades with asymmetrically. But, we got this. Um, guess what? We don’t got this. Not by a long shot.

I was conversing with my therapist earlier today, and recounting some childhood memories of time with my aunt, my mother’s only sister. I was the first of the next generation, so I was the little princess. My aunt wasn’t married to my Uncle Robert yet, and I remember them making goo-goo eyes at each other when he visited at my grandmother’s house. I remember their wedding, mainly because my aunt almost passed out during the ceremony, owing to probably 50 pounds of wedding dress and a heat index of close to 100 degrees in a church with no air-conditioning. I must have been 4 or 5 when all that was going on, and I loved it only because there was lots of food and dessert and joviality.

I always got along well with my aunt. She was fun and sillly in a way that my mother was not. My mother was disapproving and frail and sick. My aunt seemed to actually like me, like she enjoyed my company. She had not had children yet, and her path to having them was painful…she had three miscarriages before birthing three girls, my first cousins, who I hated when they started to horn in on my grandchild gig. But that’s another story. They are fine women now, and I no longer hate them. Before they showed up, though, it was all me all the time. As I said, I think my aunt rather liked me. She took me to see Rumpelstiltskein when I was about 4, and it was just me and her, all by ourselves. It was like a date. I got dressed up in in my dressiest velveteen dress, and I had little white gloves and the shiniest of shiny black patent leather shoes. And off we went, to the big people’s theatre down town, and I was one of the big crowd. I was so proud. I don’t remember the show itself, but remember it being such a special thing to be able to go off on the adventure with my aunt, by myself, like a big girl. While I was recounting that, I remembered there was a time during my childhood, not sure exactly when, but I was still very young, when I wished secretly that my aunt was my mother. That it had been her that I stayed with. My aunt was more fun, less persnickety about details, less apt to deem what I did as wrong. Again, she seemed to actually like me, like she was as excited to be with me as I was with her. It’s not that I thought my mother didn’t like me, but never thought she was especially happy to be with me. I learned a long time later that she wasn’t happy to be with anybody, not happy to be anywhere, but of course I didn’t know that as a child. The other really special memory I have of my aunt is when she picked me up and we spent the afternoon together making lasagna. From scratch. I don’t remember anything I did wrong, or anything that I got fussed at for doing, or anything unpleasant at all. I was just a kid, doing what kids do with a favorite aunt, and having a blast. Then I went home. And that cycle started up again, the one that let me know I was incompetent – at 5 – and had no real idea what I was doing, what was expected, what I was really doing wrong. The one that seemed to be inconsistent, even though I had no words to describe that, but it confused me to feel as though one day something I did was fine, the next day it was causing the end of life as we knew it. *sigh* I’m not sure I’ve entirely gotten over that, because the anxiety of wondering if what I was doing was right or wrong has evolved into the constant need to be overvigilant for either outcome. If i did wrong, or I did right, it seemed life went on and in either case, it wasn’t all that pleasant. I think I had emotionally flat-lined very early, but had no frame of of reference to let me know that wasn’t normal.

So, these days, I am trying to put together the pieces of this rip to my fabric…I remarked earlier today that I have been assuming I could simply repair that tear, as though it had not happened, patch it together seamlessly so that it appeared perfect and nobody would know there was a rift there. Right now, I believe that’s not even possible. I will always know there was a tear, there was a fault in the fabric, but mending it is still what needs to happen. It’s not all about the appearance. It’s about the viability of the fabric itself, so that it’s strong enough to provide a backing for ornamentation and fancy stichery that is added later. This is a complex concept for me, because it is so incredibly simple. I comprehend the imagery, I resonate with the image, but…there is some deeper level of acceptance that hasn’t been reached. I suppose it will take a moment, but I’ll keep ringing that bell and waiting for all the frequencies to resonate at all the layers. Thinking of all of this makes me sad, makes me cry, because I feel there are certain parts of me that are simply not there. The stiches were never cast, there is nothing to connect. There is a dead zone, where nothing grew. I have to contemplate whether that’s a forever circumstance, or whether pushing oxygenation and nutrients to the area will spark growth, even at this late date. Until it’s apparent that can happen, if it can, I suppose I’ll need to give myself a bit of grace. Dammit. That again. *sigh*

A cicada emerges from its exoskeleton after 17 years…with one mission: to make an incredible amount of noise and reproduce.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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