REAL WINGS AND OTHER PEOPLE’S MAKE BELIEVE
I paid a woman to permanently attach a pair of wings to my back. These are not fairy wings. They have real work to do.
Once upon a time, a dear friend described the way I’m seen by Interested Others: in place of what I intentionally withhold, they sprinkle fairy dust. She wasn’t the first to notice this phenomenon; hopefully, she’ll be the last. The withheld bits are doled out piecemeal, necessarily or accidentally, to Interested Others with the tenacity to stick around. Some stuck around for years, mucking around with the reconciliation of my messy reality with their fairy-girl fantasies.
They’d point out the muck, the realizations that hit them wrong, the things that didn’t fit their make-believe version of me:
“I thought you were greener. Why are you throwing out that gift wrap/aluminum foil/used baggie?” — because I ripped it to shreds opening the gift, that’s why. I’m a gift-wrap-ripper. And I feel guilty about dirty foil and used baggies, but not guilty enough to wash and reuse that grossness. Check out my Tupperware collection!
“Why can’t you just sleep like a normal person?” — I’ve never. I may never. Bad things happened after dark, for years of my life, and my brain goes on high alert at nine p.m. This is my normal.
“You seemed like such a free spirit when I first met you, but you’re really conservative.” — Um, I can’t claim to be anything other than somewhat responsible about keeping a job, or not getting arrested for doing something avoidable. If that’s conservative, go find someone else with whom to binge drink on a Tuesday night. I have to work in the morning.
“For a hippie, you worry too much.” — I used to worry; now I prepare. When the lights go out for a week because of an ice storm, you’ll be glad I have propane heaters and wool blankets and lanterns handy. I feel better about life when I get new tires before they shred, or a new timing belt before the old one blows and takes the whole engine along with it. And I like going barefoot in my tie-dye dresses, too, so I carry a first-aid kit to patch up my feet when I step on broken glass.
“I knew you were creative, but you have so much SHIT sitting around your house/in your truck/in your back pack.” — Yes, yes I do. It’s good shit, my shit, and I’m making something out of it or it’s something I’ve made. The man I love also has a lot of shit, and I love him so I also love his shit. When it’s not useful or treasured, I get rid of it–mine, not his. Until then, watch me not call you out on your messy living situation, or your sterile apartment devoid of character (shudder!), or any single part of the way you choose to inhabit your personal space.
All of these things have been said to me by Interested Others who stuck around long enough to qualify as Significant Others. They started out thinking I was, among other things, a chill, laid-back, artistic free spirit with a quirky penchant for farm auctions and thrift stores. I am those things, especially when I’m spending the day at a farm auction in its full smelly dusty glory. But there’s always a bill to settle at the end, and things to carry home. My baggage includes sloppiness, sleeplessness, and rough mornings. I fret over grades and over goals and my lurching progress toward them. I live surrounded by more books and old suitcases and typewriters and boxes of fabric and broken jewels than most people.
I live my own version of a graceful existence, clumsily.
I avoid anyone who might be too ready to fill in my blanks too quickly, which gave me the freedom to do the filling. The process hurts but is essential. It’s gorgeously difficult sometimes, blissfully ugly sometimes, effortless when I stop trying.
I love baggage. The wings just lighten the load.