Let Me Be Myself

This was the result of a creative writing exercise I did while attending a conference in Amsterdam this April.  It all points to identity and the things we desire if we could just drop the social pretense and requirements and be ourselves.

Let me
wear jeans for professional dress.
Don’t teachers teach better in jeans?
I heard that was true,
and if not, it should be.

Let me
just sit down and cry,
release the expectation that I have
all the answers even though I sometimes
don’t even know what I want.

Let me
etch “Carrie was here”
into the glass ceiling
and shatter it
as I dot the i in my name.

Let me
forget the shame
of bad decisions past
and prevent them
from haunting my quiet moments.

Let me
speak my mind
even if I lose my eloquence
and revert back to the girl on the ranch
doing a man’s work.

Featured Image: Pixabay – “Ranch” by skeeze (CC0 Public Domain)

Shipwrecked

These words were actually written a month ago. Not a lot has changed, but at least I’m writing again.

Each day I do in exercise in self-loathing.  I turn on the shower as hot as I can stand it.  I disrobe and step into the billowing steam.  The water flushes my skin scarlet with anger, humiliation, confusion, and remorse.  I lay my head against the tiles and I close my eyes.  As a literature teacher, I know water is supposed to be a symbolic cleansing.  As a human being, I know this is just a figure of speech.  There is nothing that can expunge shame.

It’s been a long time since I did this – poured myself out onto a page and shared out for the world to see.  These past few months have seen irrevocable change, and things are much darker than they ever have been.  It’s as if the light optimism of my youth reeked like the dead and was buried in secret haste.  Only something foul clawed its way out.

Once upon a time I knew who I was or at least had solidly clung to its semblance has to have that perception.  I am still amazed at how that concept is so fluid and temporary, how the winds of fortune or misfortune can shift the sail of the H.M.S. Identity.

I don’t expect understanding.  I don’t expect sentiment and encouragement.  I don’t expect any words I put down to make any sense to anyone let alone myself.  Without a rudder, I am aimless, and these words I’m stringing together do not provide the relief I so desperately seek.

In response to Daily Prompt: Bury
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Shipwreck” by tpsdave (CC0 Public Domain)

I am

the taste of vanilla
melting into a concoction
of pecans and bliss
on Thanksgiving
when the warmth
of family is rising
like homemade bread.

The laughter plumes into the air,
and I smell the stale cigarettes
on my Mother’s hands
as she kneads the dough  –
their strength molding my world.
A twinkle of teeth flash
through open mouths
as a symphony of guitars
crescendo in a sense of urgency.

These are the moments I remember
while I lie in bed wrapped
in the warm embrace
of my mother’s cashmere blanket.
Salty tears catch at the corner of my mouth
and the bitterness
of these life moments irrevocably lost
stings like the wooly worms
I stepped on as a child.

“Baby girl, you need to stop worrying.
Dry your tears.  It’ll sting like hell today,
but in the morning it’ll feel better.”
If I close my eyes tight enough,
I can still smell her hair, freshly washed,
as she bent down to kiss
my seven year old foot.

In this moment I can taste
the bittersweet mix of
3 Musketeers, Dr. Pepper, pain medication,
and the release of a final labored breath.
In this moment I remember
she is
and I am.

Featured Image: Pixabay – “Heart” by castleguard (CC0 Public Domain)

Star Stuff

This is a notion I’ve heard many times before but which didn’t fully realize until I shared the room with individuals from all over the world: Hungary, Croatia, the Netherlands, and Italy. The full gravity of it hit me when a Syrian refugee and educator shared stories of how she would play music for her students to drown out the sound of airplanes and bombs. Carl Sagan says we are all made of stars. Instead of trying to dim them because of their differences, I think it’s time we celebrate the things that make our fellow stars shine.

We all are made of
oxygen
hydrogen
nitrogen
calcium
and phosphorus.

We all feel
anger
fear
love
loss
and happiness.

There are a million things that we aren’t.
There are a million and one things that we are.
When we look at comparisons,
holding ourselves up to
a mirror
or someone we think should be our mirror,
we always look at the one thing that makes us different.

By doing so, we either
negate the other person
because we believe our difference is more important,
or we negate ourselves
because we believe our difference makes us somehow deficient.

In reality,
we should be looking
at the one thing that makes each of us unique
and celebrating the miracle of improbability
that created it.

It’s all in the connotation of things.
The way we see things in either:
lightness or darkness.
love or hate.
lament or celebration.

We all try to dim
our fellow stars,
but it doesn’t have to be this way.

This post initially appear on Miss Ross’s Blog via my school district.
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Stars” by skeeze (CC0 Public Domain)

Vanishing Point

There is a vanishing point well off in the distance
that signifies the end of the world as we know it.
The fallibility of the human eye cannot see beyond it,
but as sure as we know the Earth is round,
we know there must be something there reaching out to us.

Vanishing points don’t just exist on the horizon.
They exist in the human soul.
What lies beyond this precipice of our humanity?
Could it be we are each born with a black hole at our center
ever consuming the light within us?

But vanishing points don’t just diminish the light
as it tends towards evening twilight and darkness.
They also herald the coming sunrise,
meeting it head on and erupting the sky into
sprays of warm golds and brilliant blues.

This is the moment where there is either
life or death, love or loss, light or darkness.
This is the moment where we meet –
The vanishing point between
who I was,
who I am,
who I want to be.

In response to Daily Prompt: Vanish
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Horizon” by diego_torres (CC0 Public Domain)