Tuesday, December 2, 2014

My Past Came Back to Haunt Me (but I love a good ghost story)

I've been writing a blog for years now (since 2009). I have 3 altogether, but I no longer publish the old stuff on the older blogs. However, I just went through and read some of my old writings. I was a feisty one. It was fascinating. I feel somewhat older now, wiser by a few degrees, and more restricted by choice (or force of will). Yet, these writings are alive in ways that I cannot deny.

I started to write a book. In fact, I wrote a great deal and almost finished my book. I had a copy of the manuscript (such as it was) made so I could share it with others. I let my grandmother read it and she seemed to be pleased with it. I let my mother read it and she seemed to... well.. hate it? It seemed to make her unhappy (most of the things I do seem to make her unhappy) so I dropped it in a box and left it there. I discovered a portion of it this morning as I was reading through my old stuff. I really liked it. It's esoteric in nature and somewhat outdated in terms of the things that are on my mind these days (my marriage, school, art, homeschooling, and all the graciousness of combining these things that I can muster) but there is a spark there that I remember very well. My brain was so alive with all the things I wanted to say. I wrote all this in 2009. Which is only a mere five (almost six) years ago now. Yet, it seems like a veritable lifetime. I have changed so much. For the better? Well, I am not quite sure...

This was first published in April, 2009 on my blog UsingMyRealName, which is currently unavailable to the public.

Anyway, here it is:

An excerpt from my book be it dead or alive. I share with you wonderful people...

We lived near the river. The day was hot and electric. My body was alive. My mind was racing as it has since the day I was born. I had settled down in an old chair in our sun porch in the late afternoon. The chair was pale yellow, soft and comfortable. The windows offered a view all around. I could see the lazy river meandering, blackish-blue, down toward the sea. Its constant movement was soothing, like an energy that never dies down-I could relate to the constant motion. 

The summer breeze brought smells of soil, warm dirt, flowers, fresh grass. My hands were stained from working in the ground all day. They were raw and dry. My hair was like straw, blond and wild, full of dust. My eyes were blue with the light of the sun, with the joy I derived from planting in the garden and with youth.

I sat in the old chair and I rested. As I leaned back I noticed a navy blue sweat shirt on the chair's arm. I couldn't seem to place it at first.

Then I realized who it belonged to. It had been left behind, like a token reminder that the wearer would return to me before too long. It belonged to the boy next door. My life was a movie and he was the line on the marquis: The Boy Next Door.

I picked it up and for a reason that seems strange to me even now, I inhaled its scent. Immediately my heart thrashed in my chest. Lightening crashed in my brain. My blood coursed with an immediate heat. 

I drank the smell in like a wine sent from some mysterious land where people go to die. Just like that very first Christmas when my sister cried tears of mourning for our father, I was inundated with things I was too young to fully articulate, even in my mind, to myself alone. I was overcome with the scent of this man, this boy-even though he was not really a man in terms of years, he was the closest thing I had ever known. 

At once the thirst I suffered constantly for the father I would never know became alive in me like a flame, ignited by the scent of this shirt. At once the love, the adoration I felt for this boy took on a form that was too big, too much for me at the age that I was. 

What could I do? I knew I had crossed a threshold. I knew I was suddenly going somewhere inside myself that I did not belong. Innocent as could be, I wandered toward the blade of my own desire just a sheep leaps and bops along to the slaughter house and soon, what once was white wool becomes blood stained regret and sorrow and carrion and lifeless flesh.

I carried this awakening with me. It pierced my skin like a poisonous thorn. His body, his belly, his ribs, his chest, his arms--they were here, enveloping each fibre like oil on the forehead of a saint in prayer. He was there, in my arms and yet not even in the room. I ached and ached for him with a need so strong it frightened me. It was like some potent drug. Once it was introduced into my system I was irrevocably hooked. Dead to my sense of reason. A goner. A junkie.

I should have taken that sweater back to him. I should have run as fast and as far away from him as my little legs would have carried me. But, my heart was greedy and my heart was tired and empty for my father. My iron will would have its way and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

The scent of the shirt filled me and yet left me with an emptiness I would struggle to fill for years to come. I was not ready to allow these emotions to take center stage within me, yet there they were. From that moment on it was as though letting him go would mean to suffer loss again and I was not willing to do that. Not at all. Not without a fight. 

There was no way I could have ever explained to him, this boy, what had happened within me that day. I hid these things from him and yet they manifested in angry ways. I wanted him near me now, possessively, because he was the tourniquet that stopped the bleeding.

At the same time, the intimacy of that smell mingled with the fumbling and kissing that had occurred between us put him on a pedestal, I know now, he was never meant for-at least not in my life or my world. There I was, caught between my past and my future. Giving it all away, caught in the whirl and the rash of my innocence and my own personal drug lust. 

You cannot put another person in the space where your father belongs, I know that now. You cannot align yourself, when young, to feel things you are not ready to endure. No, you cannot do that at all. When you try to do these things you end up hurting yourself the most.

Jody Coughlin

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