Captive

An enormous jar of marbles sat perched on a shelf in the depths of the basement closet. In the dark, damp and musty room full of laundry soap and tools, a jar filled with perfectly shaped orbs in riotous colors was held captive in an old Ball jar. She reached in and pulled the jar into a shaft of sunlight pouring through the basement window. She was below ground, sitting on the cool cement floor and enjoying the silence.  One small rectangular ground-level window provided a view of the deep blue summer sky. Outside, the day was filled with heat but the basement was nearly frigid. She held the jar up, using the bright blue sky as a backdrop. The sunlight caused those perfect glass orbs to come alive again. Their color returned.

She marveled that inside of the dusty long forgotten jar, a bit of magic had been caught and held hostage. Inside the jar, the marbles screamed for release. For sunshine. To be held in the hands of a child. To roll across the sidewalk and click against another once again. Inside, under that zinc lid and neglected in the depths of a basement closet, they were captive and forgotten. Possessed but unloved.

She heard her mother’s footsteps on the basement stairs, “Be careful those are Ron’s marbles and they’re very old.” That was enough of a warning. To lose even one of those marbles wasn’t worth his vindictive wrath. Once he possessed something, he made it clear that no one else was entitled to touch what was his. From experience, she knew that children were not immune to his spiteful revenge.

She turned the grimy jar and marveled at the stifled beauty within, “Why are they in this jar in the basement?”  Her question was answered with a shrug and look of confusion, as if her mother couldn’t understand why it mattered. She felt a wave of aversion, realizing that her mother didn’t recognize the disservice of capturing such beauty and hiding it away. She stopped asking questions, knowing she’d never get her point across but also realizing that the marbles were his to keep confined forever. And wasn’t she avoiding just that? She constantly bucked against his masochistic need to dominate what wasn’t his. Including her. She’d given up waiting for her father to rescue her. She realized, at fourteen-years-old, that she must fight her battle alone.

Spellbound by the marbles and his need to control, she spat on her finger and rubbed a circle into the grime of the Ball jar. Through that clean spot, the marbles gleamed. She stood and walked to the washing machine to retrieve a towel and polished the grime-coated jar. Once more, she held the jar against the rectangle of bright blue summer sky and slowly turned it. Inside, the marbles knocked against glass and clicked against one another, begging for release. I can’t help you, she thought, I can’t help myself. She slid the jar back onto the shelf and closed the door on the beauty that shone within.

This is a piece inspired by the photo prompt at The Lightening and The Lightening Bug. It is a memory. I don’t know what became of the jar full of beautiful marbles held captive. I eventually escaped.

Sometimes, it’s good to write about things other than “Mommy”… I am a writer, therefor I write what comes to me. If you enjoy my odd (schizophrenic) mixture of mommy horror stories and creative writing, please deliver a click on the annoying flashing box right down there. If not, click on the box to return to regularly scheduled programming…not really, but you will find oodles of cute mommy blogs, baby gear giveaways and people who really dig coupons.

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If You Only Knew

Hey everyone, I need to interrupt my post to bring you this news.

Katie over at Chicken Noodle Gravy just dished about No. 7! In all seriousness, I am incredibly flattered by the feature that Katie wrote. Head over and check it out and while you’re there take some time to explore Katie’s blog – she’s a wonderful writer. Chicken Noodle Gravy is one of my absolute FAVORITES!! Thank you so much, Katie! I’m floating somewhere up around cloud 9 right now…

We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming…

How many times a week do you figure you want to run away? I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I claimed that I want to abandon ship at least once during a 24 hour period. I’ll go ahead and say it, out the seven days in a week there are likely at least five (or many more) minutes per day in which I’d like completely disappear.

 *POOF!*

Truthfully, in those dark moments I’ve wondered if my family would even notice or regret my untimely departure. I don’t think that they would and I’m not sure that I’d blame them.
Last month, I survived a week of school vacation without a husband for the better portion of said Hell…er, I meant to say school vacation. By the time I was attempting to muddle through the eighth day of solo parenting, I was cracking. Mount Vesuvius had sprouted on my left cheekbone, along with some freshly carved lines courtesy of a week-long frown bender. My voice had taken on that raspy, Marge Simpson quality as the result of yelling.
Sometimes I think my vocal cords might be permanently damaged. I’ve run to hide in the bathroom and wonder if my children’s memories will be composed of a red-faced, screaming freak they called ‘Mommy’.



image courtesy Google image search

Any remnant of what was once pretty and toned is quickly fading away. Gwen is absorbing all that once was. She flips and twirls her long hair while I come to terms with my new pixie cut. We perused some photo albums this week, the ones that contain mostly pre-children photographs. “Oh Mommy!” she said with a breathy sigh, “You used to be so beautiful!” Gee, thanks…I think.

I stepped out of the shower one morning to find an audience. There they were lined up like judges minus the score cards. “Mommy, why is it grey under your eyes?” “What happened to your toenail polish, Mom?” “Hey, how come your butt crack sticks out of your jeans when you bend down?” “Don’t you wish your hair was long and beautiful like mine?”
I slowly turned and faced them with my blackened eye-bags and chippy toenail polish and, without words, gave them a look that made them run away. Then I went to find some pants that didn’t expose ass cleavage and I cried in my closet. 
I sobbed because I felt trapped and resentful. I sobbed because I don’t earn my own paycheck anymore. I sobbed because I’m tired. I sobbed because I feel like a hamster on a wheel, doing the same thing every single day. I sobbed because I felt guilty for sobbing about all of these things.

If you really knew me, you would know that sometimes I fight the urge to run.

Mama’s Losin’ It Note: I’m not losing my grasp on sanity. I wrote this in response to Mama Kat’s weekly writing prompt. I chose “If you really knew me, you would know that sometimes…”

On Running

January, 2001 was the month and year that I decided that the corporate legal world had seen enough of my talent. In January of 2001 I truly believed I was still that little pot-smoking hippie, outdoorsy chick who grew up in the Adirondacks but was forced to sell out to The Man. That was the month and year that my new fiancé said, “Sure, I’ll move to North Conway, New Hampshire because you once spent a day there in the midst of your previous unhappy marriage and thought it was idyllic.” Okay, well that’s not exactly what he said, but this is a blog, not a book.

In my 28 years, I had never encountered a person who accepted that the act of running away might be an acceptable means of therapy and rebirth. Then I met David. The love of my life that was, as I found out, a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. He wisely recognized that I was being suffocated by my own existence and that perhaps, running was precisely what I needed to do to find myself.

I had been divorced for exactly seven months. My ex-husband got my dog, the house, some friends and even a few of my family members in the settlement. Truth is, I walked and told him to keep it all. I was too exhausted to fight over a life that made me miserable enough to ponder death. Granted, I had hoped for a bit more support and understanding, but as Joe’s preschool teacher once wisely said, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” The problem with that sentiment is that I was upset. Somewhere along the line I had lost myself in my quest to become what everyone else expected me to be. I had lost my true self and the people who were supposed to be closest to me didn’t even know. Unfortunately, the last known sighting of the real me was a 19-year-old who liked to camp, smoke a little dope on occasion, write short stories and listen to folk music. I was under the impression that I was still a decent skier, which thrilled Dave because he’s an incredible skier and had spent several years doing just that in Sun Valley.

I had it all planned out. We’d move up to North Conway where we would ski. We would drive to the mountain in our blue VW van; we’d hang out and just…hang out. (I had stopped the pot thing by that point.) I’d be living the dream…living off the grid and returning to my roots. I’d start braiding my hair again and I’d wear fleece. I’d live in jeans and my Birkenstocks. I’d just ‘be.’ I happily boxed up my Jimmy Choos and invested in a new pair of ski boots.

We drove to NH in a blizzard. He drove a Ryder truck full of our possessions and I drove my little Honda with Rosie O’Kitty ensconced on the passenger seat. Six perilous and blizzard-filled hours from Brookfield, Connecticut, we pulled into our new home in the White Mountains. In reality, we had rented a shack. A freaky little shack in the woods because that’s all that would accept our dog on such short notice. (I wish I had photograph of the place to prove that I actually lived there.) Our previously delivered van was parked between some trees, which I assumed was meant to be a driveway. There was really just too much snow to figure it all out.

Dave began work right away, leaving me to my solitary existence. I was consulting for my old company and working from home. What this really meant was that I sat around in pajamas all day and lorded over the contracts for my old company. I deciphered legalese for non-legal personnel and sat through phone conferences while I watched the snow that continued to fall outside of my window. I also watched Regis and Kelly and discovered HGTV. I was alone in the woods of northern New Hampshire in a tiny shack on a lake where the snow never seemed to stop falling. It was uncomfortably quiet and the snow was clean. Pine trees were weighed down with mounds of snow and occasionally, I’d hear a muffled thud as a pile slowly slid from the boughs and hit the ground. I was alternatively freaked out by the solitary nature of my new existence and thrilled to have done something so spontaneous. My new-found freedom both thrilled and terrified me.

I braided my hair and wore fleece. I skied alone on a weekday after one of the biggest snowstorms of the year. The peacefulness and freedom I experienced on that day will stay with me forever. Despite the breathtaking peacefulness and freedom I felt on that day, I came to the realization that I’m a really shitty skier. Dave won a mogul competition and I skied on the long, winding groomers with old ladies and seven-year-olds. Dave skied the glades and I secretly cried because I was cold and my feet hurt. I silently freaked out on the chairlift as I took in the endless peaks of the White Mountain range and became overwhelmed by the vast wilderness that thrived beneath the carpet of trees. From that chairlift, it seemed that sea of trees and undulating mountains never ended. I found myself looking forward toward where I imagined Canada was. It was a beautiful, but somehow lonely expanse of mountains full of dark mysteries that terrified me. That vast, overcast view intimidated and frightened me. I often contorted in the chairlift, twisting to see the view to the south where I longed to see the buildings of New York. What had I done? I was stuck now, somewhere in the middle of who I once was and who I was to become, but I had no idea. I felt homesick but never wanted to go back.

I began living a rather hermit-like existence. I realized that I had no real idea who I was or what I was doing with my life. I was a blank slate and my only real connection to humanity was David. I sat at my computer each day, reading contracts and sitting through conference calls. I e-mailed my insights and opinions. I drove to the post office. I let the dog out. I stared at my face in the mirror. I drove aimlessly. I looked at my teeth. I inspected my skin. I started braiding my hair in intricate patterns. I read cook books. I was bored.Out.Of.My.Mind.

I craved a cocktail at a swanky lounge and I wanted to get there in a cab. I wanted to walk through the doors of Barney’s and inhale the heavenly scent of luxury. I longed to aimlessly wander the shoe department of Neiman’s and try on shoes I couldn’t afford. Unknown to Dave, I began to realize that Hippie Chick was, well…kind of an aimless loser who was better off dead.

Thankfully, somewhere around April the snow began to melt. We piled into the Vanagon with our bikes and explored the trails in the mountains. From my Santa Cruz Juliana I watched spring come to the White Mountains. I got muddy; I fell down a hill backwards and laughed when I stopped sliding. My braids grew longer. I jumped into the river with my clothes on. I drank cold beer on a porch with a spray dried mud on my back. I wore Birkenstocks and shorts every day. I stopped second guessing myself and began chipping away at the carefully constructed walls that it had taken years to build.

Once summer arrived, we spent our weekends hiking a trail to a deserted oasis on the river where we lounged on the rocks, swam and ate our lunch next to the crystal clear water. I rode my bike to the top of Bear Notch. I swam alone in a deserted lake and soaked up the warm sun from a raft surrounded by masses of trees and silence. That glorious silence forced me to confront myself and I haven’t stopped yet. I’ve discovered a lot about myself in the past ten years and I sometimes hate what I see.

We stayed there for only seven months. I’ve come to realize that my dream place wasn’t meant to be a permanent, but rather, served as a temporary shelter. Ultimately, David gave me the gift of escape and patiently waited nearby as I let go of my past. In that tiny shack in the woods, I confronted ghosts and tried to exorcise my demons. I discovered that I wasn’t who I thought I was and realized that I had no idea who I was to become. Sensing I was on the verge of a long process of change, I squeezed a bit of abandon and soul searching into seven short months.

I’m all for a posh get-up, some killer shoes and a filthy dirty martini, straight up, please. I don’t love red meat. Sometimes I enjoy a long, skinny cigarette. I still like running, but don’t always have the time. I like going to spas and salons, especially after a weekend digging in the dirt or splashing through mud on my bike. I can go days without makeup, but have been known to inexplicably crave a makeover. I like fancy underwear. I rarely wear shoes anymore, but knowing they are on stand-by in my closet is nice. I think I’m ugly, but try my hardest not to let you know that. I listen to the Grateful Dead but happily switch to Cat Power or Weezer or Pearl Jam… Jeans are my current uniform. I can’t relax unless my surroundings feel pretty and uncluttered. I refold the laundry that David already folded. Sometimes I don’t shower for a day and a half. I know that I don’t want to go back into the legal world. I know that I need to be creative to thrive. I feel completely socially inept at all times and I think you think I am too. Feet freak me out and so do men with long fingernails. I never think I’m good enough, smart enough, funny enough, pretty enough or that I’m a good parent or wife. I’ve battled depression for most of my life and I’ve grown tired of hiding that fact. My shack in the woods introduced the path to clarity. It was there where I finally began accepting that I didn’t need to hide my eccentricities and faults. I learned that I can never be perfect to everyone, but I never seem to be able to stop trying.

My Own Private Chuckle Patch

2.22.11
Today is the day that we all clean out our closets at For the Love of Blogs, so I’m sharing a post that I wrote back in August during my “dark” period. I pretty much let my flag fly last summer and publicly shared my lifelong battle with depression. This is just one of the posts that I wrote on the subject. I know, I know…it’s an older post, but it’s close to my heart. Thanks for reading.

fortheloveofblogs


I once saw a movie called Sleeping with the Enemy. I can’t say that I loved it or the actors who were in it. The movie wasn’t even particularly good, but I was enthralled. Julia Roberts played the role of a woman stuck under the thumb of a physically abusive husband. Survival instincts cause her to remain entirely submissive to her sadistic, controlling husband and she does precisely what is expected of her or she faces serious beatings. Yet, we quietly learn that she is planning her escape by staging her own death. There’s a bit of suspense while you wonder if she can pull it off, but of course she does. She runs, lands in an idyllic little town, miraculously lands a job and rents a home. POOF! Happiness and freedom were hers.

I didn’t relate to the movie because I was ever physically abused, though I did witness physical abuse. I was sucked in because Julia successfully ran. She escaped her personal hell. She fled negativity, and as luck would have it, she found her own version of Utopia somewhere in Middle America where no one knew her. She wiped her slate clean and began anew. She was unfettered and anonymous. She could be whoever she wanted. This is what sucked me in because it was my fantasy.

I always wanted to run. Before I can even remember wanting to run, I ran. Somewhere around the age of four was the first time I tried to make a break for it. I don’t recall why, but I have heard the story told countless times. What I do remember is my mother and father calling my bluff as I packed my bag, dragged it out the front door, down the sidewalk and kept on going straight down Dixon Road. I remember looking back at some point and seeing the two of them on the front stoop laughing and waving as if I was a four year old idiot. That pissed me off so much that I walked with renewed purpose. Really, I do remember that part. My father, waving a smart ass wave and calling, “So long!” If I had known how to flip them the bird, I definitely I would have.

Eventually, my four year old freedom march carried me from their line of sight and someone was forced to retrieve me. I’ve often wondered how far I would have walked if I was left alone. Where did I think I going, Sesame Street? Did I think I could become a four year old vagabond hobo, squatting at The Magic Garden? Maybe I could have joined Carol and Paula swinging and singing as the Chuckle Patch giggled nearby. Sadly, this is likely exactly what was on my mind.

I spent a huge amount of my childhood in other worlds. I lived in books or alternatively, in my own head. At our farm there was a very old row of lilac bushes. They had been there for so long that tiny, child-sized paths wound their way through the gnarled branches; perfectly sized for a little girl. It was my own version of the Secret Garden. I wonder if I would notice it now if I passed as an adult…the perfectly arched opening dripping with fragrant purple lilacs. It beckoned to me each spring. I would stand at the entrance with my eyes squeezed shut, concentrating. I willed myself to make a successful movement into another world. Surely, magic would take over in the middle of the lilacs, transporting me. I’d exit at the other end into a world of magic and happiness, love and laughter. I would walk through those winding paths in the shady interior of the lilac bushes, believing to my core that when I reached the other side, I’d be transported. I’d be free. I believed so hard that each time I exited the lilacs, my heart broke to see that I hadn’t moved an inch.

When my parents divorced and I ran away, I lived with my father for a time. I realized that running got me nowhere closer to happiness. I couldn’t run backwards in time. One day I spent hours drawing another world onto an enormous sheet of paper. It was large enough to cover a wall in the bedroom where I was staying, so I made this world to scale. I carefully drew a path large enough to accommodate me as I stepped into my Utopia. As I hung the drawing on the wall I began “believing”. I squeezed my eyes shut and prayed. I walked forward, fully believing that I would be able to step onto that paper world and into a new life. I walked forward, fully trusting my own magic and hit my face on the wall. Hard. I collapsed onto the floor and sobbed. I hated myself for not being magical enough to make it happen. I felt hopeless and trapped. I wanted to run but had nowhere to go. I was a complete failure.

My running took various forms after the day that I smooshed my face into the wall in attempt to escape. Books were about as close as I could get to residence in fantasy land. I remember getting on one of our horses bareback and running, feeling a powerful freedom as I recklessly held on to a newly broken horse. I remember discovering that actual running was a great temporary escape. I spent 6 months of high school smoking a lot of pot…a giggly escape. I could go and on…

Dave and I have talked about my “flighty” past behavior. As he says, “Where ever you go, there you are.” He’s right. I eventually figured that out and instead of running, I’m turning around and confronting my demons. Here I am. I’m standing still and putting down roots. I have nothing to run from anymore. I’ve found my place here with this incredible man and our three magical children. I’d love to plant some lilacs next spring.