Lost Story and a Fresh Start

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The most significant trip Diana had ever taken before was a two-hour bus ride to the Museum of Science and Industry in the sixth grade. Today, she gazes out of a bus window mesmerized by the mountain and the stunning familiarity of Italy. Once they park, all of her Senior classmates stand to exit, and Diana had a driving need to push them aside to rush home. An old man greets the group and escorts them to the Pompeii amphitheater. The guide starts a memorized speech, but Diana doesn’t listen. She inches her way to the back of the group, and then quietly slips away.
As soon as she steps on the stone walkway, her feet feel at home, and stories creep up her legs and finally reach her center. Diana follows her feet and becomes wholly immersed in a living, vibrant city that was Pompeii. She passes businesses and temples, but after what seems like centuries she stops and enters a room with broken walls and no roof. Where she stands, there is a design on a tiled floor. Diana knows the design well, it is the pattern she has doodled as long as she has memory. Turning to the view of the volcano, Diana remembers the shape that has changed, and she searches for the smoke. A father’s words whisper into her ear, “Vesuvius wants us to leave.” The message was in a language she didn’t know. Diana mouths a question, “Pater, Vesuvius semper loquitur. Quid relinquo?”
Diana slid to the floor, and tears flow from her eyes. She is home, but it would never be home again. She remembers hauling belongings on a cart and a heavy load strapped to her back. The further they fled the mountain seemed angrier. Her family walks with other citizens and neighbors, the group spreading out as they pass through Herculaneum. Pater decides we need to hurry to Neapoli, and there will be safety. The family walks on, and Diana could feel an indescribable fear and a desperate need to run.
She hears the remembered explosion with a shudder and turns to face the mountain. No longer smoke, but fire and rocks were visible showering all around where she lays. She sees the refugees stop and stare at the eruption. An icy shudder and then tears coat her face millenniums later. Diana is still on the ancient tile when her teacher comes in and sits beside her. “I know, this is an amazing sight and can evoke emotion, but I need you to rejoin the tour.”
Diana sighs, and nods her head. Words have not returned to her exhausted body. Slowly, rising the girl realizes that her memories are private and she must stay silent. Once back on her feet, a resolve embraces her, and Diana feels a new freedom and undefined resolve. All doubts have left her, Diana will go to college, and gather the skills to discover and share the lost stories buried in history. She makes a silent vow to return so she can tell Pater’s story first.

Everyone Loves a Monster

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I lie here quietly trying to keep my breathing shallow and silent. I need to steal a little more sleep so I can face the day. I can hear it lurking, creeping though my home searching for food, any kind of food that will fuel its mythic strength.
Cerberus, the three-headed monster has taken over my life. It is a very devious beast, selfish and exhausting. As long as there is salty or sweet food within reach of its lion like claws it won’t hurt me. I never know for sure, when it will raise its heads and demand I pay a toll.
I find this roaring beast most charming, often funny, but it lies for no reason. It won’t brush its teeth or wash and comb its serpentine mane. It has the ability to tear me to shreds in moments, and it is aware of its power. Locking the door makes no difference as it crawls in through any opening, filling my home with energy and desire. After days of silence, it lights my total existence with its continual thirst for knowledge.
When it is gone, I miss it. When it is here, I can’t keep up. I run full speed trying to keep it fed and distracted with anything that is shiny. It has the appeal of a toothless Muppet and the demeanor of Medusa. It is an amazing beast only calmed with three flavors of ice cream, which energizes it to run in three directions fighting with itself and anxious to be anywhere at any time.
Although at this moment, it has decided to be kind to me with 10 minutes of quiet before the next feeding. I really do appreciate that act of generosity. I love a monster and I will give it everything I own. Zeus, please bless my three amazing grandchildren.

Darkest Part of Night

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Creeping through a sleeping house

In my wool socks and Yoga Tee.

The world is blessed with slumber

Except for exhausted me.

Lying still with eyes pressed

Mind reeling with disjointed thought.

To haunt lonely corners the drowsy sneak

Bargains for an hour of dream .

Everyone else slumber s in peace;

No appreciation of good fortune

Until they pad the dark with me.

Why does slumber elude me so?

I truly love her best.

Those she caresses appreciate not

and the one she spurns is obsessed.

Here I am in the soundless house

Where even the termites rest.

Dressed the part, and hopeful

That fortunes will turn and reset.sleeplessThis week @USCD

Dirty Secrets

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road

As I drive west on Interstate 70, there is no other traffic. Draped in the solitude I continue lost in the rhythm of the road. The scorching sun beats down as I face hours of a straight highway and the only scenery consists of uncountable rows of corn. The vibrant green stretches beyond my comprehension, only broken by a few farm houses with dirt driveways.   I peek down the rows as they pass organized in an unnatural pattern of human control. I see evidence of life on both sides of the car, and I’m wondering about the generations of choices that provided for a life on the plains. My personal angst continues to reverberate “What am I doing?”

I have labeled myself by relationships, job titles, politics and a few accomplishments, but I still don’t know who I am. Who I am supposed to be? What was I meant to do? I want to know the eternal question, the down deep, below false expectations.

I have had days to think as I look at my life. Today I see the metaphor of the highway. My story seems as straight and narrow as the barren road racing to the horizon not knowing when it will meet the setting sun. I can see my life as a series of stories, usually starring someone else and not a single hero. I see the multitude of possibilities spiraling in and out from the interstate, but there is no exit. So I chose the road most traveled. I have worked hard to fit an image that was designed and sold for women of the 50s. I have fashioned myself to appear to be a good girl, a loyal wife, an honest employee. In reality, I have only disappointed myself.

I turned my back on the possible adventures of life and wasted into a sad older age.  I recognize at this moment that I’m not alone; we are all defined by our secrets, our dirty little secrets. It is the truth that breaks the rules; it is the truth that leads us to our authentic self. I want to turn my back on the lies and follow truth to the genuine me. I wasted decades hiding and lying, followed by even more years wanting to atone for the unspoken.   The sins I committed in haste and confusion didn’t go away; they expanded in the dark recesses of my humiliation. I have exaggerated and fed the lies as they linger, poisoning and causing the same destruction as a slow moving cancer.

It is impossible to cut them out, as they have roots that enslave the heart. From this milepost I will no longer blame others for the crimes against me. I was complicit by allowing it to go on. What I can do is set the secrets free, and I will leave the guilt and shame at the very next rest stop. My salvation is this moment when my escape becomes a journey.