Finding myself in the Middle East

Monday, February 17, 2014

Just Me and My Shadow

I'm sure you know. Don't you? I mean, it's nothing special. No big deal. You won't eat too little or too much or lock yourself up in a dark-roomed corner; at least not for long. You'll still be on your game; sweep the floors, face the laundry, write the stories, tuck them in. And if the smile is a little forced, it'll be real again soon enough. It's nothing. Really, thanks for asking, you say. But it's nothing.

It comes in slowly, almost shyly. It had knocked hesitantly with a small limp hand and when you answered, it said, Um, can I come in? And you said oh,okay. It looked so pathetic, standing out there. It was probably raining the day of the knock and your heart can't bear turning down strays. When you shake its hand its palm is damp and the damp spreads like mold all through you.

It's not depression, not exactly. That word is too clinical, too solve-y, too cold. Maybe it is the far lovelier melancholy, with it's vision of poets in high black-collared coats and pale skin.



Because you used to embrace it as if it were your own, write diary entries in your own blood, trying it on for a size, thinking that the child crying rather expressionlessly in the corner was You. Then you realized it was not. (And that was a journey,of course; it wasn't "and then you realized," the way that books think that they can sneak a "four years later" on you.)

(Plus, blood. Bleagh. Melodramatic and gross all at the same time.)

But then you made it worse; you analysed it, yes you did, don't deny it. You used to think about why it had slunk in, all shadow-casting and gloomy, all anti-heat. You used to say, why why why? You used to think that if you knew why it had come then you could send it, shuffling and small, back out into the cold outside.

So if that was today you would say well of course, it's because the house is half-boarded up as we wait for permits to come through and the baby is keeping you up all night. Your story was rejected and the book pushed off and you are bearing too much crushing responsibility for someone else's children, but they are too dear to your heart to refuse. And the cousin who lost a day and ended up finding a brain tumor and the little boy who was almost-family who suddenly, inexplicably, died. And Past and the Future and the cold wet wind outside.You have so many blessings, so many more blessings than crosses to bear but even your blessings can weigh, can all be calling for you just when you need a second, just when your introverted soul says, who are all these people in my house? When are they going home?

And aha! you used to say. It is the tired/rejection/responsibility/something to do with my childhood.You Figured it Out. And you would wait, arms folded, pleased, for the thing to leave.

But it didn't leave, even then.

And that's when you realized ("four years later") that you were going about it All Wrong.

That whatever it is, it's fine, it's okay. It is. 

(Or at least, it will be soon.)

It will come, it will go, and now it is here so the least you can do is offer it a place to dry off from the rain poor thing, as you go about your business, smile at it every so often as you dry your hands and plunge back into your day.

And maybe, later, write about it.

And maybe, later, you should very probably buy yourself some ice-cream.


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