Wednesday, March 08, 2006

My Soul in a Locket

Dan told me the other day that he saw you, recognized you, even though he was a good ten yards away, his vision obscured by dirty city bus window. He told me that your walk is burned into his brain, the subtle limp, the hulking stride, the way your shoulders round off and heave forward with each insulting step. Funny how insignificant things like someone’s walk can stay with a person, even after twenty-five years. He was, what? - nine, ten the last time he ever laid eyes on you?

There was no doubt in his mind that that was you, and before the bus gasped and lurched away from the stop, you turned in its direction, in Dan’s direction, and he saw your face, plain as day, bloated with alcohol. Your unmistakable seventies era, I-Look-Like-Burt-Reynolds-Don’t-I? mustache still rusty-red, still ridiculous.

But he remembers that walk of yours, not only the visual peculiarities, but the sound. He laughed as he said to me “Remember how he used to clomp up the stairs when he was pissed, and Rob and I would hide in our bedroom closet?” He laughed, but the humor was forced, just as it always was forced. Our laughter helped us tolerate the intolerable. We used to call you Big Red behind your back, even our dad. So how’s that asshole Big Red? he’d ask And we all would laugh.

You won’t like what I’m about to tell you, but Dad once declared that if he weren’t so goddamned weak with cancer, he’d blow a hole in your red face with his hunting rifle. I enjoyed hearing that. You, the coward of all cowards, couldn't wait for him to die, could you? You restrained that one last devil dog within, the most evil one, until it was safe to let him loose. I think I actually heard the snap of the leash on the day my father passed.

Sometimes my brothers and I called you Big Red Thud, too. Or just Thud. You always wore your shoes in the house, would leave tracks across Mom’s clean linoleum. I don’t allow shoes in my home, like the Japanese. It is disrespectful to bring the filth of the streets into someone’s home. But you wouldn’t know about that, just as you wouldn’t know about the nightmares I still have, the nauseating waves of shame that overcome me at odd times, the exasperation of my husband when I get in a mood, how I hide not only from you, but from the world as well

And you wouldn’t know the insecurity, terror, suspicion I carried for years, still carry. The sheer obesity of it all prevents me from mastering certain tasks, indulging in ordinary privileges most take for granted, as I am weighted down with you, just pounds and pounds of you. I am seen by many as eccentric, dependant, strange, but they don't know how strong I really am. Despite the unnatural disasters I've been through, I've accomplished much, I take pride in those accomplishments, and I've earned the right to shout a big fuck you at those who look upon my lifestyle or my choices with scorn.

I have survived the avalanche of you, and I am glad to be alive, but the dust, Jesus...Some days I can hardly breathe. Some nights it settles into my sleep, and I dream of being tapped on the shoulder, I dream of innocence tumbling down, of your limping gait; I dream of lost childhood things, like tiny violet-scented dolls encased in lockets or passionate notes scribbled in raggedy notebooks, and I miss them with an intensity afforded only to living things, real things.

I wake and wonder where they might have gone. Are they lying beneath tons upon tons of others’ childhood things in some Riga landfill? Are my dolls still whole, would they smell as sweet despite decades beneath the rot? They were, after all, protected by sturdy gem-cut glass. They are a symbol of preservation, though their whereabouts are a mystery, but they are out there somewhere, waiting to be discovered, cleansed, worn on a chain around some darling little girl's neck.

Metaphor, I know, is above your ignorant head, but I want you to know something, you rotten bastard, I want you to finally know something, so I'll state it simply, loudly: I may still be covered in your dust, the rubble of injustice, fears that taint the quality of my life, but you will not suffocate me. I may not be capable -- yet -- of living my life easy, but I will never go out the hard way. I may choke, weep, cough, bend, but I will always find a bubble of fresh air to get me through. And I may never recapture those damn dolls, but I will continue to search, even if it takes the remainder of my life. So keep walking, free man, keep on limping toward your invariably lonely death, and take my burden with you, please. I don’t want to carry you anymore.


At 11:47 AM, Blogger Victor said...

We sooooo need a story from you Lori!

This is just a tease.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Alice said...

Wow. Powerful.

Makes my posts seem all petty and small minded and crap now.

Um, are you ok?

Email me if you need to.

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Granny said...

No child anyplace anywhere deserves that. Kids are for loving.


At 2:25 PM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Victor! Nice to see you here.

About that story -- soon, Meester Victor. They're coming sloooow lately, but they're coming...And hey, what about *your* stories, huh? I'll bet you've got a story brewing about some guy who completely loses his mind while trying to fix up his soon-to-be-on-the-market house. ;-)

Aw, thanks, Alice. I'm okay. Just blowing off some steam is all. Well, more like venting a volcano, but hell, it felt gooood!

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Indeed, Ann. Indeed.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Yes, that piece is whole and gorgeous and it must be published!


At 5:04 PM, Blogger Redneck Nerdboy! said...

Wait wait wait... I've got one.

I had a dog and his name was Spot... [Jas gets hit with tomato]

That was very deep Lori. Now I feel somewhat inferior in my mannish state!

At 5:40 PM, Blogger G-Man said...

OK, I'm a bit fogged today, for all kinds of ugly reasons, but this post caught my attention. I have questions, but fear they will sound stupid, like I didn't get the joke kind of stupid. So check your email.

At 6:06 PM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Thanks so much, Jordan. I'd publish it if I knew a place that liked rambling, pissed-off rants full of obfuscation and woe. ;-)

Jas, you will never be inferior in any state. Especially New York, you witty, handsome thinks-he's-a-redneck-but-isn't guy.

I feel like that all too often, G-Man.

At 10:08 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Wow, Lori. I'm speechless. (virtual hug)

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Lori, you have power. Keep writing, friend. This is amazing.


At 9:04 AM, Blogger Ms. Lori said...

Bill, thanks for the hug! (((gladly reciprocating)))

Ellen, thank you so much for the kind words. I will indeed continue to write, even with four kids hanging off my ass. ;-) I've had to take a break from seriously writing and submitting, not only because I lost ALL of my work this past summer due to computer crash (lost my will to write for a while there -- it's HARD to start over from scratch!), but my family needs my full attention at this time. I'm itching to get back in the publishing game, though. Soon, I hope.

At 6:04 AM, Blogger Alexis said...

Ms. Lori, you are amazing. Love you, lex


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