Hi, it’s been awhile. There’s no point in lying to you; you know me too well. I’ve been drowning in words.
Shoulds, coulds, musts, and needs. Inspiration and wants and beliefs. Trying, leaping, considering, crying. Abnormal, exhaustion, fear, and draining. Liver, pain, prescription, opinion. Isolation, laughter, smiles, lies. Research, DNA, ability, dreams. Future, guilt, finances, frustration. Jealousy and enough.
As in, when is it enough? Am I enough? And enough!
There’s a woman I went to high school with. She’s an all-American kind of #momoftwo and #wifey. Photos of her two-story suburban colonial, seaside wedding, sun-kissed vacations, and cherub cheeked children grace her social media like an advertisement for the best lies capitalist America can sell. Sometime there’re pictures of her husband too. He smiles at the camera in a polo shirt she no doubt picked out. Life is pleasantly predictable.
I wanted that predictability for a long time, and I got it. Then I died.
Do you remember that book (and movie) The Witches by Roald Dahl? Well in it, evil witches disguised as old, bitter single women (ha!) curse children by putting them into still-life paintings in their own parents’ house. As the parents age, so do their children, but you never see their images actually move. Instead, the cursed children just appear in a different spots and poses each morning, a little taller, with longer hair, and more wrinkles. One day they disappear.
Sometimes I zoom in on my former classmate’s orange-and-cream filtered photos and stare at her smile: is she cursed too? Is she silently screaming on the inside? Is this domestic life of endless laundry and diapers, reloading the dishwasher after she’s worked in heels all day, and planning her own anniversary date down to the delivery of half-dead roses she’ll put in her clueless husband’s hands seconds before she takes that Instagram shot really what she wanted from this life?
Maybe. But I wasn’t content disappearing into a picture.
Freeing myself from the witch’s curse took ripping my whole damn painting in half. I’m free, but I’m terrified, and there’s glass and paper all over the floor. Every twist in my story from intermittent education, to untamed romance, unique jobs, and a crippling illness humbles me a bit more. Nothing I’ve done since escaping the painting is predictable, no matter how often I plan my ambitions, and now there’s a deluge of words pouring from the sky and rising past my shoulders. What do I do with all these words?
I don’t know, but I’m not about to look back. Not even once.
You should read this book if you’re seeking reprieve from rose-colored literature and star-crossed lovers. The Female of the Species is neither pretty nor sweet. Its aftertaste is bitter, and its plot will leave you shifting uncomfortably in your seat, replaying memories of your adolescence under the harsh fluorescent lighting of retrospect.