She sits in debris.
Rubble presses into her thighs and she shifts, uncomfortable. She has always enjoyed mess but this is just so vast, she can’t seem to see the end of it. Picking up a shard of glass, she runs her fingers over the jagged edges knowing she will get cut. She does. It is not a deep wound but the spiking pain elicits an involuntary cry from her, even though she was expecting it. She squeezes her thumb, making the little balloon of blood swell and break, sinking into the fine creases of her fingerprint. Pretty, she thinks and then puts her thumb in her mouth, sucking on it like a child as she surveys the damage.
So much to do. So much to sort through. How could she possibly get through this mess? Decide what to store and what to throw away?
* * *
I sit up in bed, in the dark, hugging my knees against my chest for warmth against the blast of an unfamiliar fan. The fan in my bedroom usually whirs above me – I’m used to staring up at it, even in the darkness, watching those shadow-like blades making their orbit, keeping me cool in the tropical heat. Today I stare long and hard at the new fan which faces me, eerily human-like on its stand, whooshing cool wind my way that makes me shiver.
I have a new house now and there is much to get used to. New floors to imprint my footsteps on as I go about my days, new walls to listen in on my new life, a new bed to collapse into at nights, new switches to get frustrated with (I can never remember which switch is for what when they’re all together), new furniture to hold me up when I want to lounge around or just catch a minute or two of rest.
Out with the old; in with the new, they say. It sounds so easy. I know it’s not. Having left the house I grew up in and lived my first 5 days truly away from home, I feel…
Exhilarated. Exhausted. Free but at the same time confined like never before. Excited. Sad but also determined. Harsh words, curses and accusations racketed back and forth in the months leading up to this departure which happened suddenly, far sooner than I expected. A final fight, a last straw pulled apart and shredded, a final serve from my side of the court; an angry, inconclusive game; a walk-out.
And I walked out with a curse at my back rather than a blessing, but I left with the conviction that this was right some how.
And now here I am. Alone in the world, but also not. Afraid of what lies ahead but eager to face it on my own, for the first time. Painfully aware of how little I know about the world, but ready to learn, ready to grow up. It’s about time, isn’t it?
My eyes start to tear and I realize I’ve been staring at the fan too long. When I blink, a tear trickles down my cheek and I wipe it away. My first tear, I think absently. Strange that this first tear is not one of sadness or even anger or any other kind of emotion. I haven’t cried at all. Amidst all the other millions of worries that have been clouding my head these days, I worry about that also – does it mean anything? I’ve spent a couple of days stressed and on the verge of tears, but it was anger pushing me then – a pulsing, burning anger that I desperately want to shake.
I know I will, soon. I have never been able to hold onto anger; it would dissolve even before I knew it and quite unconsciously I would be laughing with someone I had minutes ago vowed never to speak to. I have a feeling this may take a little longer than usual, but I know it’ll happen. I just need the time.
The time, the space, the freedom, to live a life that is really and totally mine.
This last thought lingers in my head as I slide back in bed, into a new groove in a new mattress. An annoying mosquito bites my wrist and I shift to scratch it, my mind jumping from one subject to another.
I hear a door to the next room shut as the friend to whom this house belongs readies herself for bed. The sound triggers off a feeling of incredible gratitude towards her and one other who have moved in fast and close, letting me feel my way in the dark but shadowing my every move, ready to give me whatever I support I need if I feel too lost.
Think positive, friends tell me. Make the best of a bad situation. And I’m determined to do that, despite the fact that I feel more of a child than ever. Suddenly things I never thought about clutter my mind, distracting me, pulling my attention in a hundred different directions. I just have to take the time to flesh it all out, de-clutter my brain and figure things out. And I know I can do it, I just have to take that big, scary leap.
What am I talking about? I already have.
* * *
She’s in deep, struggling to find a footing when there suddenly is none. She knows how to swim, but hasn’t been out so deep before. Adrenalin and fright keep her legs working, even as they ache, to keep herself afloat. The rush of water roars in her ears; cold stings her skin and her gasps sound thin and frail in the biting air.
Still, somewhere inside of her, a grain of confidence tugs at her, reminding her of its presence. It’s only a matter of time. Her muscles will harden and grow strong so it won’t be so hard to keep from going under. Her panic will die down; her breathing will settle; her flailing will turn into powerful strokes. She will learn how to use the water to bouy her up rather than bring her down. And in time, she will be strong enough to swim herself to shore.
Shore. A new country with old friends. A place she will belong to. A place where she can make peace with the ones she left, but whom she still loves. A place where she will finally be able to throw her head back, flex her aching shoulders and spread her arms wide in that universal expression of liberty. A place where she will, finally, be free.