If the outside world could see what I see…
A woman wakes up with dark circles outlining her eyes. Her wild, unkempt hair is greased around the crown of her head. The long bleached out layers are frayed with split, dry ends. Her small hands have blood caked around minuscule cracks. There are shadowed, pigmented spots on her face and hands. These spots make her wonder, “At what age did they start to appear?” When did she not notice the stains of age creeping unto her skin?
Her legs ache around the joints. Too many years spent behind home plate crouched in the squatting position. Or it could have been the years she spent standing with arms loaded full of plates while she slung food. Her arms and legs carried the burden of working double shifts so she could afford to make her car payment, or buy an expensive text book and maybe a few groceries. She usually ended up charging her food on credit cards. Small trips to the store and an empty fridge accompanied a slow growl in her stomach. The girl remembers exactly how being hungry felt.
Once a person feels the pain from hunger, they never forget the scraping feeling clawing at their gut. They don’t forget the tired fatigue, or how legs scream in pain from dehydration. The older woman remembers the girl and she remembers the lost feeling trying to survive in the world.
Head held high. She kept a chin above the downturns, and swam when water choked the life from her veins. The woman remembers the girl who once sat in a lonely garage apartment. Judy Garland blared on repeat as the girl tried to die. She wanted nothing more than to go over that rainbow. To reach the place where skies are always blue, and the dreams you dare to dream really do come true. Pill on top of pill matched every tear falling from her steel brilliant blue eyes. Snuggled beneath a blanket and hopelessness, she puked death out of her system around the early morning hours. Looking back to the night surrounded by Judy’s lonesome serenade as she sat huddled in the corner of her olive green couch, the woman asks: “Why were pills more abundant than love and friends?”
Open the eyes. When the girl awoke and found she couldn’t fly over that rainbow, her life didn’t change. Not one little bit. There were still tables to wait and bills to pay. Thus has been the day to day grind for as long as the woman can recall. Youth is squandered too hastily for those who do not appreciate it. She realizes as she is typing words onto a metallic bordered screen, she herself did not appreciate the summer days. The long forgotten days of running down an alley to meet friends and staying out until the sun said goodbye. She misses the nights where she stayed with a girlfriend, and Caller ID didn’t exist. Her friend and her talked of love, of boys they hoped would like them back. They made big plans. Their dreams were as concrete as dandelion seeds on a windy day. It all went too damn fast.
Pretty places. Marriage came to the girl, and it has been nothing like her and her kindergarten best friend chatted about on those late summer nights. The woman sits next to her husband, and inwardly is begging for a few minutes. Time. There are few regrets in the woman’s life, but there is a place she would like to return to. It is a Saturday night and a date. A restaurant she vaguely remembers because those pills were always prescribed too readily. But she has glimpses of a fine restaurant and brightly colored drinks. The husband tells her how she fell asleep in her food. Inside the hidden secret place of her heart, the woman desperately wishes to be back at that dinner. She would be different this time. Her face would look as nice as she could paint it. She would wear her best bra, the one with extra padding. The one that pushes her sagging bosom up closer to her chin. There would be a tiny ounce of glitter specifically placed to draw attention to her cleavage. The woman would laugh. If there is a place over that rainbow, the woman endlessly believes it is a place filled with romance, love, and hearty laughs.
Experience everything. All the unseen tales are rolled up into one person, our woman and our girl. They are one in the same. Throughout everything they’ve lived through and overcame, there is a certain strength. It is a thing which is not taught in schools, or classrooms, and unfortunately the expertise comes from a midnight hour many will never see. The enigma is an indecisive, finicky woman. She is sitting on a paisley covered bed typing on computer she hasn’t paid for, and she has only twenty eight dollars to her name. And she feels every bit of the world crashing on top of her shoulders right now. None of it matters though, because she carries something bigger than all those worries. There is something much larger than money, memories, and the labels placed upon her. There is hope locked inside of her chest.
If the outside world could see what I see…
I’ve seen pain. I’ve felt hunger. I’ve tasted death. I’ve had grand dreams and once made unrealistic plans. I’ve been unloved and alone. I’ve swallowed pain. I’ve had men spit in my face. When I look in the mirror, I see imperfections and flaws, ugliness, beauty, and most of all…
I see HOPE.
As long as I continue to keep my head held high, and my eyes open, and remember the pretty places I came from, and never forget to fully embrace the experience in everything, there is hope beating in my chest.
To Punk Rock Papa, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to write here. Thank you for your encouragement and support and, most of all, for your friendship. May we never stop writing our truths and our words. Fist bump to a wonderful friend and supremely talented Wri-Ter. ~ Misfit
Rachel E. Bledsoe is a writer and an Appalachian Misfit Mama. She enjoys swimming, long walks on the beach, and Marie Antoinette biographies. She is the sole voice and writer behind The Misfits of a Mountain Mama. You can visit her on Facebook or on Twitter @MisfitMtMama.