Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Waterline


The part of my life I'm most apt to share is the half-full glass.

But I know you're no fool. Nothing is as straight as it seems around here where the sidewalks jut like busted teeth and the train cuts each quarter hour like a hundred broken hearts.

We're all just human, walking through the pitches and dips of life. The pulse doesn't change even if the skin around it does. This is what we signed up for when we put down our nets - a little ebb, a little flow. Right?

So I won't sugar-coat, and pretending makes me nauseous. When I say I love this life, that I'd never go back, I mean it.

But the flip-side is that I sometimes choose silence. It's safer. Easier. I don't trust myself to speak the hard truth well. People will misunderstand, or the weight of my words will pull me under for good.

Like a wife encamped in the truth that the love hiding in shadows will find its way back out, I know the boundaries of my belief. I've learned the angles and I've lived on every side.


Mine is a soul that pleads for beauty. It's a visceral need, a longing cast far past wishful thinking. I have to track it down. When I do, I fold myself inside it, a shawl for the colder nights.

This is what's necessary for me to exist between the cracks of a life I never asked for, one I was too naive to hope for. I must see the good. I have got to believe this right here is holy.

The waterline inches up the glass, its delicate weight like a clipped rose, a ripe peach, a snoozing infant in my hands. This is what I want. I want this glass to be filled. If it sloshes over the sides? Even better.

But sometimes it fills by the drop. Some weeks I'm left pacing the smudged floors, my eyes darting to gauge where we're at. Is life good right now? Is it on its way?

Now and then the glass slips from my hands and I can't see hope for all the mess we've made. Those are the days I choose to start over in quiet.

But maybe there's a place for the barren words, stripped of all the good-looking graces.


Tonight, life glitters on the floor in pieces, not so much the victim of a single tragedy but of the pound and blast of an ordinary Tuesday followed too closely by a Wednesday.

Tonight, nothing we do seems to be enough.
Tonight, everything we do feels like far too much.

The words seep through my shards and I know the truth before I even punctuate their end: It's not about us or what we do or don't do. It never was. 

It helps, but only a little.

Is there beauty here, where mothers don't cherish their children? Is there loveliness among dirty toddlers who speak in grunts, too alone to cobble together a first language? Where kids are passed and passed and passed along?

I stand surrounded by people who assume all the wrong things about my life, and as soon as I get close enough to touch theirs, any commonality we've crossed gets lost in translation again. We retreat to our separate corners. My head beats the wall and I love these people while I resent them. I defend them and I judge them. I believe them and I ignore them.

I love them and I love myself more, far too often.

This cannot be beauty.

I sit at the tracks while a train screams by. The gates lift and I'm swept back into our neighborhood, where nothing makes sense at all.

I can't explain why I exhale, I only know I do.

A family on bikes races across the street with smiles as wide as the low-sinking sun. I don't know a thing about them, but maybe they're enough right now. This is where God made my home, and beauty lives here, even when my eyes can't see.

Somewhere, a leaky faucet drips. It drips.

Before I know it, I'll be filled again, promising that every inconvenience matters, in my life and in yours.

I won't say it until I mean it.

And in the end, I always do.