That sound, ding ding….ding ding ding….. the smell of stale beer, the creek of an old wooden floor. Then his stare, soft and welcoming, from across the room. It’s all a dream now.
A tiny vignette of a vivid memory.
That’s how we met. And that’s how he drew me in. I was open for it, I was always open for it. Sex was what I could control and the intimacy was what I craved. His eyes promised that intimacy… if only for the night.
That sound ding ding….ding ding ding….the smell of stale beer, the familiar creak of the sticky wooden floor. Night two. There he was again, the same promise in his stare, the same kindness in his stare. And the guarantee of an intimacy that had cradled me from the night before.
Repeat. Repeat, Repeat.
Then came the promise of commitment. The promise that these feelings would last forever, that the lust would last forever, that the kindness would last forever, that the intimacy I craved, would last forever.
I was 24, I had moved back home, to hicksville, to escape 1980’s New York City. Aids, drugs, more drugs, no direction, needed to clear my head, needed to nest, needed to reset.
He held the promise of a picket fence, kids, and security, even though he never offered that out loud, I innately knew that he was controllable. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, but for the moment, I wanted to take this turn.
In New York, I could not control the world around me. I just knew how to control my sex. That was my superpower. That was how I kept them coming back. Sex was where I could let go and be truly free. Free of the performance that was required for daily survival.
Sex was not a performance.
The act was pure and real, it was freeing and the intimacy, oh the intimacy in that moment made up for a childhood where I was forced to build a shield, no, a wall, to hide my emotions. Not allowed to cry, not allowed to show fear or flaws. That is what my father dictated.
I was meant to be smart, no brilliant, talented and confident. I played the part well, hid my fear, hid my lack of brilliance. Charging in like I owned the place. Hiding my cognitive disability, my sensitivity, all the while burying my insecurities.
I was the ultimate performer, just like a well-trained dog.
That sound… no, no sound now, quiet, very quiet. Just the smell of fermenting wine, the small house on the hill, and the birth of my first child. Ah yes, he would be the genius.
Envisioning my own mortality.
A tired, blurry memory now.
I was just 25. How do you make another human being, how do you care for another human being when your superpowers don’t allow for a crying baby. My parents successfully created and raised another life, or had they. Both my parents were still childlike in their needs, and wants. Did they do the best they could, did they? It would be another 10 years before I learned how to hate then forgive then love them again. It would be only 3 years until my father left my mother and I became her mother, the only adult in the room.
But the love I felt for this crying baby, overpowering, all consuming. All the time repeating to myself… don’t fuck it up, don’t fuck it up…
Wish I had felt the same for the father, the baby’s father.
But I was just 25…
He was not my knight in shining armor, but he was handsome. He was not a great provider, but we were never hungry. He was against public displays of affection, but he did love me.
Why did I ache for more…
That sound, ding ding….ding ding ding….. the smell of stale beer, the creek of a familiar old wooden floor. Then his stare, sexy and inviting, secret and seductive, from across the room.
The desire, no, the need to feel my superpowers again, if only for one night. No big deal, I can handle this. Just an hours indiscretion, then back to my wifely, no, my mommy duties. It will be my, no, our little secret, no big deal, no one will ever know…
Then came the promise of love and intimacy, and public displays of affection, a better life financially. He never promised it out loud, but…
I was 32, hot for my age. I had had three children by then. I decided infidelity was instinctual, not my fault, I had read all about it in a magazine, and I forgave myself. I believed that I could switch my man partner, breadwinner and my children wouldn’t suffer. He would provide and make me happy, them happy. And I would finally be happy. We would all be happy.
That sound, ding ding….ding ding ding….. the smell of stale beer, the creek of an old wooden floor. Then his stare, into the eyes of a younger woman, a childless woman. Not stares at me anymore, was I loosing my shine, were children my kryptonite? I had been tossed, just as I had tossed… aside. I felt pain, real pain for the first time.
A heart wrenching, vivid memory.
How was I able to be so cruel to the father of my children, why had I not felt his pain as I inflicted it. Why did I not see the suffering, the sadness of the children, my children.
Eyes open, internal growth for the first time… but at what cost?
I would spend the rest of my life fixing that cost, making it right, for the children that is. Forgiving myself over and over and over again. Looking all the while for a new superpower. Accepting that I couldn’t turn heads anymore, I wasn’t the pretty girl in the room anymore. The boys, no, the men didn’t look twice at me anymore.
Coming to grips, intimacy would have to come from within.
Learning love of self is a long lonely road.
My new superpower, self-honesty?, mea culpa chick?,
No, no superpower now.
Just be, just exist, just be kind.
Just live in the moment.
By Jennifer Duke Anstey (Harpending)
performance by Maia Stam
music by Tyler Cassidy-Heacock & Joseph Kannel
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66 OURS - Collaborative Writing Project
Starting with Phase 1, writers had 66 days to base their writing on 1 anonymous person & 1 vignette, dutifully and judiciously assigned to each writer by Amelia.
Photos given to the writers
Each writer was given a combination of 1 person + 1 vignette from the following: