Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Thinking About Space

The therapist lady’s assignment before the Labor Day break was “Find creative ways to think about space.”

That’s because sometimes when I feel stressed or threatened, I also feel trapped, like I can’t get away, like I have to snarl and fight like a cornered squirrel. I haven’t thought of a way to convince myself during those times that I have any control over the situation, that I can, in fact, walk away. (not storm away or fade into the woodwork.)

But here’s what I have so far about space:

1. For my whole adult life, I’ve thought of myself as someone who leaves the past behind as a survival mechanism, but it is not behind. There’s rooms I’m trapped in unable to move, exposed and looking for my clothes or safe for the moment with nowhere left to go. I’ve been dreaming those rooms and trying to write them as they come. I’m hoping if I write it honestly enough, the trapped feeling will fade.

2. Lynda Barry says that when a loss is too painful (the example she gives is the death of a pet) we sometimes put that image away so we can’t find it.

Allowing myself to write about lost things feels like a lot of little reunions.

The United States of Tara and The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst both have lots of interesting things to say about those little retrievals.

3. I grew up in a farmhouse on 10 acres of land. The nearest town was 5 miles away. To a kid in trouble that might as well be the moon.

To a kid exploring, it was magic. There was no limit to the number of imaginary things that could happen. My brother and sister and I picked wild strawberries, walked aimlessly through the woods, had our own eensy little pond to slip around on in the winter. If two cars drove by our house, my Grandpa would say “Rush hour!” and my sister and I would say “Rush minute!” and laugh hysterically.

4. There was a time years after that, in a suburban apartment complex, when I should have fought. Should have hissed and snarled. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t move. I wish I’d told the cops the whole story. I wish that my adult self had been there to protect my teen self. It’s hard to forgive myself even still.