I Got What I Wished For
Dreaming is selfish. The home I’ve been making inside myself started when my toast would always come up burned and my boyfriend had sex with someone else. I took the kitchen scissors and gave myself a stupid haircut that filled me with pride. My mom made me cry into my black beans and rice that night. The first thing I came to understand at puberty is that whenever grief comes into your home, you must change something about yourself. Unfortunately, my hair always suffers the brunt of this.
As a teen I’d consider my bed more as a means to rest my mind. Like a mind that’s tired of living in a body. A needy one, full of locked up desires I’ve been trained to keep under wraps. Close the blinds and let the cereal get soggy. The world gets so big when I close my eyes, my largeness takes form; I dream I am loved and it’s the kind of love I can hold onto. Like a treat, a candy bar or sumo orange, something I throw into my bag on the way out the door. Knowing that it’s presence alone guarantees my sustenance.
I discovered language after a baby tore me in half coming out of me. I couldn’t sit for three weeks but I’d look at my beautiful creature and finally understood the complexity of love. I mean that in the worst way possible. So I started writing everything down. I never want to forget this blissful hell I’ve created for myself. Because if we're honest, you and me, we feel things the same. We can write endlessly about love and it still won’t make any sense.
I think my yearning began before puberty, before my boyfriend had sex with someone else. I think it was when addiction took hold of my dad and my mom was forced to work two jobs. We’d be the two kids in the back doing our homework. All I ever wanted was to be an adult, I’ve kept my anger secret until now. But I promise you this rage is worthwhile, because I have only just begun to surrender to it. It’s important to be a little scared of yourself. My womanhood depends on it.
There is something really special about a woman’s survival in the world. Give me the heaviest noose you can find and I will wear it like a medal. I like to befriend women like this too, people that aren’t afraid to let grief shape them into something. A third of the women I know are making space for this, making peace with their hell. Women who have found beauty in the doomed.
I am becoming burdened with my general image in the world. I turn 35 this year and I am a mother of two. That’s kind of embarrassing actually, to feel myself being taken back to the stage of “wanting.” I am dreaming again, but this time I’m awake. I wait for the house to fall asleep. I put on my headphones and reread my favorite book. I am tending to some kind of emotional garden, coming back to me each night, remembering where we left off the night before. This just dawned on me - can you still yearn even when you have love? When you got what you wished for?
My mom stopped dreaming, she closed her eyes and saw black. She let people butcher our last name. She smiled too much and wore a girdle for too many hours. It’s the things you do when you’re shrinking, when imagination is a gluttonous thing. You forget that you’re special and dissolve into nothing.
This isn’t lost on me, what I’m doing. Putting this down into language. But my toast is coming up burnt again. My hair is way too long and it is suffocating me. It’s a good thing, sometimes, to remember your life. It’s the wanting that keeps us going. My cup will never be full, because once it is, what’s left of my little life?
I come back to tend to these pages, there are so many blank pages and I am determined to fill them all up. Writing can be another form of dreaming. I don’t believe in dream analysis but if I did I’d say this is an important dynamic: I still have compassion for myself to tend to my emotional garden. I am important, I am useful, I am soft, I am loved. But you see, those things are a recipe for shrinking. I don't need to impulsively spew out cookie-cutter answers, the language we use when shame thrives inside of us. The most adult thing I can do is accept that I still yearn, that I still want more. It’s the only way I can move through in this world.
My children haven’t developed their memory machines yet, not in the way I have. I remember the home I’ve been making. I remember the women who have been handed their special hells and what they create from them. I remember cutting my hair manically. It’s totally acceptable to assume that the world will make sense one day, that even in my 35th year of life it definitely still doesn't. What will my kids say when they have their own memory machines? Maybe they’ll be like me, listening to music and pining for more life…to be happy, to be loved, to create a space for themselves. How wonderful is it to want? To dream? It’s really not that selfish at all.