Banji and I arrived at her aunt’s house last night, after a full afternoon of driving through mountains covered with glorious yellows, oranges, and reds. We had a fun drive and good conversation and I think I even managed to stay awake through most of it! (though I did nod off a bit in the middle, oddly enough while listening to Led Zeppelin) It felt great to talk with her and her aunt once we’d arrived, though I’ll admit I felt a bit left out during some of their conversations about their family members.
I woke early this morning; my first reaction was to try and go back to sleep. My mind kept berating me about Schmoozer’s death, telling me it’s all my fault my adorable, sweet, uber friendly pet rat is dead. “Fine, if you’re going to torture me, I’ll get up.” So I did. And, genius that I am, I went online and looked at information about the Speaker of the House. I think it’s ridiculous that one person has so much power he can keep the government shut down indefinitely by refusing to allow his colleagues to vote on a bill. I wanted to create a petition asking for Boehner to be kicked out of that position and replaced with a non-partisan individual whose immediate job it would be to call the clean funding bill to a vote. But there is no higher authority to appeal to, and it seems most likely that if we could convince the House to “encourage” Boehner to resign, House Republicans would immediately elect someone worse.
I read an article that said the Tea Party is actually pleased with Boehner and that this shutdown is part of his career strategy. That’s right folks, starving mothers and babies, survivors of rape and domestic violence put out on the street, head start programs ground to a halt, hundreds of thousands of people without work or pay, parks and monuments closed, a lapse in veterans’ benefits, etc. etc. etc. … merely the pawns in Boehner’s game of chess. If he’s winning, he’s not going to listen to our petitions – unless perhaps there is a massive outcry by the people in his district, who can vote for his opponent in the next election. Without their votes, all the support and campaign funds from his party will be nothing. One district in Ohio may determine the fate of us all.
I decided to give myself a break from the futile & infuriating and do something useful. My student loans will go into repayment soon, so I thought I should take a look at my account and repayment options. The instructions I’d received were to select a repayment plan or apply for deferment before my loans enter repayment. Makes sense to me. But the site wouldn’t even let me view some of the options, much less make changes or try to defer repayment, because I’m still in a grace period. That’s right folks. I’m supposed to do something before the grace period ends, but I can’t do it because of the grace period. That makes so much sense!
Eventually I gave up on the Internet and decided to attempt an idea I had for a Celtic knotwork panel. Banji took a nap nearby, said the design looked good when I showed it to her, and used her smart phone. I felt really guilty for doing something that didn’t involve her, but I also really wanted to complete my design. It was like I literally couldn’t put it down.
But of course my mind wouldn’t let me just focus on the knotwork! It insisted on ruminating on Boehner and the Republicans and how effed up the federal government is. I felt so angry and at the same time so helpless; it’s really infuriating. I talked with Banji about it a bit but she didn’t really want to get into it too much, and really I think she’s taking the healthier course of action. So I fumed a bit, and I compulsively completed a very convoluted knotwork design, including tracing the outline in ultra fine black Sharpie and erasing most of the pencil lines. The perfectionist in me still wants to tweak some things, but overall I’m proud of my day’s work.
We left the house late enough that we only had 20 minutes to peruse the bookstore in town – a tradition that is important to Banji. Of course I was ambivalent about going until we got there, then once we were there I wished we had longer to look at ALL THE BOOKS!!! But maybe it was better we were so short on time because we got to look around and be entertained without spending inordinate amounts of money. Any longer would have been bad for the wallet and might not have actually been any more fun.
Dinner with Banji’s aunt, then we came back to the house and started chatting. I kept fading in and out, almost like I was bouncing between two realities. The one behind my eyelids was quite gory. I wanted to talk to Banji about it after her aunt had gone to bed, but I felt so weird trying to describe the images that were haunting me – precisely because they were so haunting. I couldn’t get myself to say anything about them. Banji was tired, too, so we agreed to call it a night and try to do creative things together in the morning.
I’ll describe the gory, unsettling, potentially triggering images behind a cut, so you can choose whether to read about them.
They started as closeups of specific body parts – an arm, a leg, etc. – all bare, with thin lines of blood dripping down them. Zoom out from each one to see a young pale thin girl, maybe a preteen. Naked, her long dark hair covering her face in thin lines like the blood, maybe like bars on a cage. Blood flowing slowly from cuts on her arms, her legs, her torso, everywhere. Just trickling down. Like tears.
I KNOW HER because I am her; she’s a part of me. She won’t even look me in the eye, and I’ll be honest I’m afraid of what I’d see. I hope I’d see a fire there, anger, but for all I know the fire’s already gone out. Smoldering ash may be all that’s left.
But if that’s the case, why would she be appearing to me? Reaching out to me? Is she accusing me? Or asking me for help? Maybe I’m the one who needs her help. I don’t know. She’s part of my Shadow, dark and foreboding. I’ll admit I’m a bit afraid of her. But my inclination is to trust her, at least enough to try and communicate. I am her, she is part of me – her pain, the blood, her darkness, all of it. Whatever is causing her to bleed is also hurting me.
My bigger concern is where she’ll lead me and whether I’m ready to follow her. Will she wait if I need more time to prepare? I may not have a choice: it’s getting late and I need to sleep. I might be in for some interesting dreams.
Alone. Sad. Abandoned. No one was willing to follow me then, either. They turned a blind eye, protected themselves. Didn’t even notice my vulnerability. I’m the part of you that “died” when we learned of Dad’s death, when you went numb and couldn’t cry and only wanted to focus on the funeral arrangements because they were something to do and you didn’t know what else to do with yourself. I don’t blame you for that, I don’t know what else you could have done. But I’m not dead. I’ve been her all along, waiting.
I don’t know what’s going to come of this, but we need to work together. Whatever I dream tonight, I’ll dream. Whatever happens tomorrow, we’ll be there. Hand in hand. Blood and tears.
I won’t abandon you.