I recognize this as a very odd post. This second chakra awakening, passion, or transition—whatever words are chosen to attempt to decipher what is occurring for me at a soul and cellular level, is directly related to reclaiming the spirit in me that was lost in my youth. My sensitive nature, depth of soul, and ability to take in extreme amounts, coupled with the circumstances of my childhood, led me to lock a large portion of my self away.
This portion locked away, was largely the part which knew I was beautifull, knew I was worthy, and knew I was desirable. When very young, I learned how not to live, how not to show joy, how to in effect dislike myself and my body in order to survive.
In knowing this now, with a profound awakening on multiple levels, I am holding a cup in either hand. To the right of me is the hope of this now found passion. To the left, balancing my position, are the memories. I am seeing how each feeds the other. The erupting passion on one side, the imploding self on the other. The flame and the joust.
Here I place the cups before you. Experience as you’d like. For we each stand with two cups. All equally balanced in beauty.
One of the reasons I am taking photos of myself lately is to embrace the beauty that is me. I never have seen me before. Seen how very lovely inside and out I am. This is part of my growth process. My hair is usually unbrushed and I wear no makeup, say lip gloss. It’s raw, it’s real, and it’s fresh. I love it.
The depths of me
Fingers dripped in sweet
Dew upon the fields of sunrise
A damp fire of longing
Lighting the avenue of discontent
With fierce flames of gentle dragon
Devoured by desire
The phantom of celestial union
Where we once breathed
The Game of Joust
My fourth grade teacher once said, “The characters in novels are multi-dimensional and a good writer will depict all sides of a person: the good and bad, the happy and sad, the pretty and the ugly. Otherwise the story just won’t seem authentic.” I mulled this over as Ben slumped across the kitchen and pinched Mother’s ass. I reasoned I wasn’t living in some novel—this was real life.
The morning Ben was over, Mother was short on conversation and spent her time searching for a cigarette. In a year she’d dropped a good twenty pounds, so the slender jeans she wore slipped off of her narrow hips. Her hair was long and straight, her T-shirt thinning. From the corner chair, Ben farted, permeating the room with a wretched smell of spoiled cheese and tuna fish. My dog Justice left the room. I slouched down in my seat at the kitchen table and tugged the front of my soiled shirt up and over half of my face. I thought of the animal claw, or possibly human nail, I had recently found in a can of tuna.
Ben heaved himself up and pulled a section of his bundled blue jeans out of his butt crack, walked over to the fridge, bent down, grunted and closed the door. He returned to the table empty-handed and swept by the back of my mother’s chair, reaching down and giving her a snippy pinch on the bottom. Mother rolled her eyes in disinterest. “Hey? Has anyone seen my last cigarette?” she asked.
Ben shook his head, circled the kitchen like a shark, and returned with his favorite silver lighter in hand. Standing behind Mother’s chair, he tossed the lighter on the table. Mother sighed heavily and turned her focus to the window. After taking a few shuffled steps, Ben stretched up exposing the black curls of his belly and let out a husky yawn, looking much like a sloth blossoming from inertia. “Shit. Where’s the morning paper?” he asked in a crotchety fashion.
“Good morning, Ben,” I said, and pushed the newspaper towards his placemat at the head of the table. Catching Mother’s eye, I smiled and then reached for a sugar cube from the pink box directly in front of me. After holding one cube hostage in my cheek until it dissolved, I grabbed another and nibbled. Ben sat down with a thud. He asked in a throaty voice, “Did you clean your room like your mother asked?”
I stared back at his one solid line of black eyebrow. “Yes, I did,” I answered, noting to myself my tone of voice, in response to Ben, eerily resembled that of Mother’s—a bit sarcastic with undertones of impatience. Ben pulled on a clump of his arm hair, scrunched his broad nose, scratched at the dead skin flakes on his bald spot and opened the paper with an air of casualness. I eyed him with caution as his mouth opened, half-expecting a fly to emerge from the depths. “Crap,” he said. His eyes were stern and transfixed on the newspaper. “No wonder all the Americans are so stupid. They don’t value education. What did I tell you? It’s the government. They know what they are doing as sure as they collect the taxes out of our empty pockets. They don’t want us to be educated, want to raise a bunch of idiots so they can control us. You didn’t fill out that census did you? If you did, rip it up. They don’t need to know anything about us.”
Mother was still facing the kitchen window. Without turning around, she waved an apathetic hand. Her overgrown fingernails were covered in chipped-red nail polish. I continued eating the sugar cubes. Ben scratched underneath his nose, coughed and dislodged a clump of mucous from the back of his throat into the purple clay ashtray—the ashtray I had made by hand in kindergarten. I thought about my kindergarten teacher, the grandmotherly woman who had died of cancer the summer I was approaching first grade. I dropped my eyes from the ashtray to the kitchen floor.
Ben turned sideways to find me. “I have a great idea,” he said as I swept off cigarette ash from my placemat.
“Maybe later,” I heard myself say.
“Why don’t you try this new game I’ve got? Once anyways, just for fun?” Ben’s tongue licked the lower inside of his mouth under his lip making a suction cup sound.
I rolled my eyes. Mother tossed a broken toothpick into the ashtray, aside Ben’s phlegm, and stepped into the conversation with her hoarse morning voice. “I’ll leave you two alone then. I need a shower.” Ben waved his stubby hand towards Mother and smiled. There was something devious about his look, about his posture, about everything he did.
I missed Mother from the moment she stepped out the room. I forced myself to remain calm while Ben fondled a sugar cube between his chubby fingers. His fingernails appeared like they had been under the engine of a car not at an engineer’s desk. The sun’s heat penetrated the glass of the kitchen window. I could feel the warmth on my cheeks. I took a deep breath trying to remember what my stepfather Drake smelled like, trying to remember his deaf son, and the smell of my scented markers. I looked down at my socks. There was a hole in my toe. I rubbed my toe against the backside of Justice, who had just crept back under the table, and now gnawed at his skin. A warm breeze blew across the table.
The leg of Ben’s chair scraped against the floor. He slurred out his words. “This is a damn good game to build up your confidence. Teach you some manners. Help you not to slouch so much, even teach you to pay attention more.” He returned his tainted sugar cube to the box, and continued talking; only this time, I didn’t hear him.
As had happened many times before, in the presence of Ben my mind wondered. I glanced down at my shirt. It was the third day in a row I had it on, and Mother hadn’t said anything. It had been a good week since we went to the laundry mat, and I began to worry about when I would have clean clothes again. I thought about washing the shirt myself in the bathroom sink, and thought back on the time I’d used too much dish soap and bubbles had escaped all over the kitchen floor. Maybe I could wash my shirt outside.
Ben paused to scratch the black stubble on his round chin. I stopped thinking about my shirt and instead stared at the overgrowth of Ben’s facial hair. Ben shook his head sullenly. “Just a second,” he said, and pushed over the newspaper. He mumbled something else in a low gruff voice, and pulled out Mother’s last cigarette from underneath a Life magazine on the table, then proceeded to fidget with his silver lighter and light up.
I despised the silence. I hated watching Ben move. I hated sitting next to him alone in a room, not because I was afraid he would physically hurt me—he never touched me; it was his words, how they could slice me like a thin wire through cheese.
“What’s the game?” I asked in a low voice.
“Shit! Just like that. That’s what I’m talking about. You can’t even wait a minute.” Ben affronted me with his words as if he were challenging me to a joust. Only I knew, and he knew, I didn’t know how to battle; I hadn’t been trained; and sitting there, in the kitchen, I felt I’d already been knocked off my high horse and was now waiting to be trampled on.
Waving my hand, I pushed Ben’s cigarette smoke out of my face and then wrapped my arms tightly around myself. My thumb twitched against my upper arm. Again a breeze came through the window. Justice stirred and slid further into the back corner. I could no longer feel his backside. I brought my feet up onto the chair, felt my socks tucked underneath me. I could hear Mother running the shower.
Ben rubbed his hand across his head, forcing one black curl to flop to the opposite side of his scalp. “It’s an easy game. You’ll get it.” He cleared his throat.
Ben smiled and slid his chair forward. “Do you know what?” He didn’t want a response. I stopped breathing for a second in anticipation. The kind of anticipation I had when I was waiting to be scolded for breaking something or talking back, those seconds that go on like long drawn out minutes, where all the scenarios play through the mind.
“You are stupid,” Ben said with a blank expression. Though in his dark eyes I could tell he was waiting for something. I watched his lone eyebrow rise up and then ease down. He tapped his smoking cigarette in my purple clay ashtray, casually, too casually. “Remember what I told you the last time we played? This is reverse psychology and it’s proven to be good for you.”
“I know.” I pictured myself lying there in the dirt with Ben’s footprint on my check.
“Are you still there?”
“Look at me or it won’t work.”
I looked crossly at his bloodshot eyes. At least I tried to look cross. I wasn’t cross at all; I was afraid.
Ben continued. “You are stupid, fat and ugly,” he said in a matter-of-fact way so that one might have thought he was forecasting the weather. He then stared cheerfully through me, as I fought back a burning sensation in my eyes.
I swallowed harder.
“Seriously, it’s just a game. You don’t have to be such a baby about it.” Ben took another puff of the cigarette. “Why don’t you take a stab at it? Go ahead, try your best.”
“No. Thank you,” I whispered.
Ben blew out three rings of smoke. “Now, there, those are some good manners,” he said with a sated grin.
“You’re an idiot, you know,” he said, his smoke choking me.
As the seconds passed, and more words followed, my body remained present but my thoughts went back to Drake’s house, to my room with the record player, to the Easy Bake Oven, to my days of Brownies, to the days Mommy looked so pretty, where the clothes were clean and homemade dinners were on the table—until Ben pounded his fist on the table.
“This is a waste of my time. Why don’t you do something useful with yourself?”
I leaned down and grabbed Justice by the collar. I’d give him a bath. But it wouldn’t be like the baths I remembered, the days when I chased Justice under my bed giggling with glee.
I stood on unsure knees, pulling myself with invisible puppet strings up from my chair. I accidentally brushed up against Ben. He gave me a sideways glare. “You see. The game worked.”
I didn’t know what he meant.
I didn’t want to know.
Switching the MOOD back to LOVE here. One of my FAVORITES…. This video WILL make you smile. I promise…and this is where I am today…in this state of mind.