Archive for January, 2010

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The Caged Bird

January 15, 2010

Once upon a time, a young boy walked along a trail in the woods near his home.

In the tangled roots of an old oak tree, he noticed a plain brown bird with a mangled wing.  The boy was familiar with the woods, and knew that if the injured bird stayed where it was, it would be eaten by another animal looking for an easy meal.

He wrapped the bird in his shirt tails, and carefully carried her home.  There, he nursed her back to health and showered her with attention and love.

By and by, the simple bird came to love the boy for saving her.  She wanted to repay him, but knew there was no way to do so.  For days, she hummed a melody in her head, composing a beautiful song for the young boy.

When it was finished, the bird sang for the boy as he fed her scraps from his dinner.  The song was so incredibly beautiful, it brought the boy to tears.  He knew, then and there, that despite the bird’s plain appearance, she was a gift to be cherished and adored.

The next day, the boy presented his special bird with a gilded cage, with all the amenities a privileged bird might desire.  He invited his friends and family to hear her song, and reveled in the joy on their faces as they listened.

But soon, the boy grew jealous of the attention showered upon his bird.  He was afraid that others may try to steal the bird, now that they knew of the joy she brought with her beautiful songs.  So he locked her away in his closet, petting her in secret as he confessed his undying devotion.

At first, the bird flourished under the boy’s attention.  But as time went on, and her wing healed, she longed for the days that she sailed among the clouds.  Still, she sang beautiful songs for the boy to show her appreciation.

One day, as the boy cleaned the bird’s cage, she noticed the door to the closet was open.  She flew outward, and found an open window. 

The joy she felt as she flew was beyond words, beyond anything she could describe.  As the bird glided, she hummed a new melody for her special boy.  Eventually, she flew back to him, full of energy and life and passion.  As she drew in a breath to sing him her new song, he clipped her wings and stuffed her gruffly into her cage, chastising her for flying away.

She wanted him to know that she always intended to come back, that her flying had nothing to do with her love for him.  But all she could do was sing, and hope he understood.

Days, weeks, months, and years passed.  The bird longed to fly above the trees, touching the clouds, but the boy kept her in her cage.  Slowly, she forgot her beautiful songs.  Instead, she chirped tonelessly as her boy handled her.

She wanted so much to sing for him, to show him how grateful she was that he saved her from certain death that day in the forest. 

He gave her everything a caged bird could want, and yet… all she wanted was the freedom to stretch her wings and fly.

One day, the boy noticed that his special bird’s dull brown feathers were falling out.  He tried to recall the last time she had sung for him, but the date eluded him.  Finally, he understood that to love her was to let her be free to share her songs with the world.

He loosened the door on her cage and carried her to the forest in his trembling hands.  Quietly, her bid her good-bye. 

Moments passed as she regarded him with her sparkling brown eyes.  As she finally took flight, she sang the most beautiful song for her captor, her savior, her love.

And night after night, she perched upon his window sill and sung him to sleep with a beautiful lullaby.

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Hide and Seek

January 12, 2010

I play hide and seek with the woman in the mirror.

It is through the steam of the shower, when droplets have formed and run small rivers down my reflection, that I see her best.  She peers back at me through a prism, sparkling and muddied, distorted like broken glass, and averts her eyes.

She is shy and insecure, a master of the game as she hides and I seek.

The woman in the mirror is an expert at finding hiding places.  She can be found behind social norms and expectations, small town gossip and fear of rejection.  She is a chameleon.

I am determined.  I will find her.  In my quietest voice, and with gentle hands, I will coax her from the dark and quiet. 

She will find that I have finally given her a home base, a place where she can call out Olly Olly Oxen Free!  It is here, now, in this place.

And, in time, I hope she will give up the game, for good.  She is home.

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Drunk at 11

January 11, 2010

I got drunk for the first time when I was 11 years old.

Some slightly older friends took me to a corner bar in Heidelberg, Germany, and the bartender handed me a Bacardi and Coke.

Being drunk made me feel free.  Free from my anxiety and my pre-teen insecurities.  I laughed, I danced, I learned to shoot pool and throw darts.

But it also made me feel out of control.  As though I was watching myself from somewhere else in the room, with no say in how the evening would proceed.

I decided, then and there, that getting drunk wasn’t my thing, no matter how much fun it was.

Only a few short months later, at the age of 12, I was raped.

Not in a bar, not in an alley, not on a train or even in the dark of night.  It was in my friend’s bedroom, on a cold, crisp, winter day. 

I wasn’t dressed provocatively.  I wore a white turtle neck, black cotton dress pants, and black boots that went click-clack when I walked across tile.  Hung carefully on a chair was the grey Member’s Only jacket I borrowed from my Daddy.

After that, I learned how to drink just enough to numb the pain.  At the age of 12, I quickly found the line between buzzed enough to feel good and drunk.

Alcohol was my crutch, the thing I turned to when I didn’t feel like life was worth living.  With it coursing through my veins, I could be a different person, one who knew nothing of fear and rape and shame.

I gave it up, eventually.  Even in my extreme youth, I knew it wasn’t the answer to my problems.  

Instead, I put my pain in a box, built a brick wall around it and walked away, hoping that if I didn’t have to look at it, I’d forget it existed.