Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Being back in my home-town has given me the strangest sensation; it’s like entering a time machine and meeting my past…face-to-face. I sense an eagerness to explore the dark quarters, the condemned haunts that I occupied when I led my life by raw instincts, and wisdom was a dusty book kept on a high shelf...well out of the reach of my small hands.
Up until now my home town has played host to a legion of ghosts and phantoms, resurrecting ancient fears, and sorrows…casting their exaggerated shadows across my history, leaving me shivering from the damp chill of their opened graves. I carried the heaviness of their corpses with me throughout my life…their stench reminding me of the murder of my innocence.
I was four years old when I made the most disastrous of life choices, unwittingly wandering from the safety of the Yellow Brick Road into the Forbidden Forest. A child shouldn’t have such power; but being a tyke doesn’t exclude you from the laws of free will, or protect you from the degenerate hands of society. Nothing will ever change that fateful day when I decided to move left, instead of right; it has had far reaching consequences.
I expected to confront the same dark spirits on this visit, but instead I’m being greeted by new ghosts, venerable Caspers, with gentle voices and warm hands. I welcome their assistance…while also remaining guarded, waiting for the chafing pain of childhood traumas to return; those familiar rubbings like ill fitting shoes. But it never comes. The pain has somehow evaporated, leaving a center of silence so acute that my body is buzzing with the sweet nothingness of its presence.
Little Leah’s ghost looks radiant and with high-spirited enthusiasm she wants to show me everything: the wall where she spent endless hours observing the world and waiting for life to bring her important answers. Amazingly the wall is still there, its structure stoically fixed like a tombstone defying the seasons. I sit my aged ass down, noticing the cold hard surface, fidgeting for comfort, and remembering how I used to sit for hours on this hard spot rather than returning to the desolate nothingness at home. No matter the weather I would sit, waiting for something to do, perhaps a friend would return home and invite me to share their happiness for a while.
I adjust my position and notice that from where I’m sitting I have a perfect view into Joanne J’s old apartment window. Suddenly she’s jumping on her bed, doing her Go-Go routine to Mony Mony. Sitting cross-legged on the hard wood floor I’m her sole audience member. Joanne is wearing white fish net stockings, black vinyl boots, and a yellow baby-doll pajama top. Her breasts are full for twelve years old. I’m wearing an oversized nighty. My breast buds barely cause a rise in the pink flannel gown. I’m jealous of all her jiggling and I grin when her mother comes in and snaps at her to put some clothes on.
I smile with this memory, still noticing the absence of pain. It’s as though the swelling and redness have gone out of my past leaving me to enjoy the subtle nuances of my youth...a luxury that I’m unfamiliar with.
Tipping my head back I look up through the golden leaves of a hovering maple and inhale deeply. For the first time I can say that I actually love the vibe of this place. This is where I resourcefully used paper clips and bubble gum to hold my cracked shield together. I fought off dragons with that shield. I was brave and kind. I had no way of knowing that the brooding darkness of my childhood was indeed a pressurized incubation chamber which would produce the future diamonds of my essence. It has made me who I am.
As they say, “All’s well…” But a part of me still wants to look into that kid’s courageous brown eyes and reassure her. I want to tell her that no matter how bad things may seem everything is just as it should be. And then it hits me…I just did.
Posted by Leah Griffith at 1:13 PM