Sometimes I wake up in the night and I don’t know where I am. I don’t know where to begin when there’s no beginning…it’s like I’m in a hotel only I can’t leave, like I’m just visiting this life…and there is an unconscious spirit inside waiting; only it doesn’t know it is. Where am I?
I wake up in the night after falling asleep beside my son in his little Star Wars bed after stories and the pain in my neck has returned with the full force of gravity and the imbalance of twisting into some unnatural shape while I drifted off into the invisible.
Meanwhile, I exhale and ‘Hotel California’ is playing somewhere down the halls of time. Dancing in the big hall at summer camp, drifting back to 1980’ something, with a girl I remember in some obscurity like a Polaroid picture. I was 13. I know she was older, just married or engaged. Dark hair, dark eyes, dark room….I remember then not knowing where I was in the same way. ‘Hotel California’…I was there in a dream like I was someone else while ‘I’ was somewhere else.
The pain returns and I shift my spine and yawn, slowly turn my neck and un-weight my head to release the pressure and…the pain returns…and I know how she did it (a young girl we knew took her life). Not ‘how’ how and don’t ask me why, but in some invisible sense I understand it is possible. It’s not the pain she was searching to escape, it’s that one place where the pain subsides or even vanishes you chase. I twist my neck, un-weight again and when I find it I want to hold my breath and, “I call on the natural forces that be, to free me…to free me…Allah ballah bullia ah!!” (Arrested Development) She just wanted to go there forever. It’s OK…breath…its OK now.
The world’s circle inside me…I meant to say ‘words’, but it’s true. I took a deep breath and felt a chill and another right now again, and I wonder if she feels? If she watches? I wonder if we close our blinds so we don’t see the spirits in the night, except in the crooked space beside the toques and mittens that prop up the metal base on the wooden sill of the little vertical window beside the front door and let them in.
Doors, doors separate us and hide the invisible fear of the unknown…of the other side. No, not some magical spiritual dimension beyond forever or west of never, I mean right there on the other side of that door. Yes, there! That one right there with the dents and pains of the people who lived here before us. Right here in #19. Right there. Literally. R-i-g-h-t t-h-e-r-e behind that door, behind the blinds, behind your back, in front of your face when you close your eyes and at the light switch on your finger tip when you turn out the light.
There’s a fine line between wishing the pain would stop and, “I just want it to stop.” No, not like that…go back and say it. Now shout it, “I WANT IT TO STOP!!” No. I don’t mean in your mind with your imaginary rage, I mean with your mouth, with your voice, with that part of you that would rather die than admit it, than face the walls, than open the door and tear down the fear in the invisible fog that hides when you look out between the blinds at 4:14am, behind trees and parked cars, under porches and decks, in closets and under beds like frightened monsters in my children’s books. Like Gods. SHOUT IT! You don’t even have to say the words; just make a noise, a sound, a yell, a “Yop!” And then a scream like the Who’s, “We are here! We are here! We are here!” There is a fine line between that and simply wanting peace.
No, I take it back…there is no line. They are the same, only we don’t know how to say. Our whole lives we focus on the pain and we say, “How could she?”, “I could never.” Could you really? Never? I think you could. I think we are all one step from the impossible…one step from the magical escape, one step from seeing the world with my daughter’s eyes and running down the sidewalk with a green plastic beach shovel to, “Me, me shovel snowy!”, before it all melts into the spring and we forget to remember her. You were thinking how much fun it would be to let it all go and live like a child again…weren’t you?
I look in mirrors and see pale blue reminders.