I’m a 48 year old woman who hasn’t yet experienced true partnership. And I don’t just want true partnership; my entire being aches for it.
Like a pregnant body or a heart with nowhere to send its cargo, things like us either die or burst never having delivered our respective gifts to the rightful recipients…and everyone loses.
It is clear at this point in my hastening life that I will never know what it is like to feel the warm, strong and loving arms of my partner embrace me while I cradle our child. That opportunity has already passed. I held them each alone and did the best I could. That would be lovely beyond words and I ache for it too, but this I have let go.
Small Town, Small Life
What were they looking for, these little fingers?
They clung to my sweater. To my pant leg. To my bra strap. They wound themselves endlessly into my long curly hair. The found their way into my mouth when they were babies still; and wrapped themselves around my pinky and ring fingers while crossing the street when they were just a bit older. They kneaded my breast when they were hungry and traced hearts in the palm of my hand while we watched Snow White together. They pinched me with fingernails while I removed splinters. And tapped my cheek quietly when they wanted to crawl into bed with me at 2:00am. Sometimes they gripped the back of my shoulder while I picked the rubble out of the 12 speed road rash on their knees. Other times they held me with a death grip when their first love broke their heart. They held me just as long as my own fingers held them when I dropped them off at summer camp or, ultimately, at college.
I have two words to say to the woman who, at our 30th High School Reunion, pulled me aside specifically to say “I can’t believe you, of all people, ended up in this small town with such a small life.”
I am certain that by “small” you actually meant any one of a number of synonyms: cramped, limited, narrow, paltry, scanty, insufficient, piddling, or stunted. The venom in your voice suggested that you did. I don’t know why you said it, but I’m not offended.
Putting Color into the World
For a great many years, I have played a mean game of musical chairs at work. We have acquired big companies resulting in duplication and layoffs. We have spun off parts of the business resulting in workforce reduction. We have restructured and eliminated entire divisions to stay agile and profitable or to, quite frankly, move the work to more affordable offshore options. For at least 18 out of the 20 years I have needed to both (1) look over my shoulder and (2) navigate what might be ahead.
This past year my employer told me that I would need to relocate to Georgia, Idaho, California or Oregon or lose my job. The only consideration was my zip code. I was able to locate another job in the company that includes travel and customer interaction so I was able to stay on the payroll and in Fairport, NY. This time. Barely. And just after I became situated there was an announcement that another 30,000 employees (10% of the employee base) will lose their jobs in the not so distant future. Perhaps me this time.
People have often asked me what I do. But, I could not find a way to honor all of who I am with a short answer to that simple question. Until I realized that in absolutely everything I do I put color into the world.
I captured the best image I have ever captured tonight, but you will never see it.
At the end of another brutally long work day, I grabbed my camera and headed out the door for a few minutes of fresh air before the sun went down. The truth is, I don’t have the energy left after life ravages me each day to create anything. But because I refuse to stop fighting I went searching for something beautiful anyway. Anything beautiful in a life that is otherwise. And I found it.
I understand that it is relatively easy to catch a monkey. You simply put something enticing into the hollowed end of a coconut (like peanuts) and they will reach in to grab them and make a fist. Then you reel the coconut in by a string. The monkey will refuse to let go of the peanuts to save his/her life because they perceive that they are something needed…even though they are not. In essence, they risk everything and trap themselves based upon false perceptions.