I'm fairly outgoing. I'm good with new people. When everybody in a room is uncomfortable and shy, I'm the kind of person who speaks up, asks questions and gives out compliments.
That's not really what I'm like, though.
Every time I go for a long walk, I try to pick the roads where I won't see anybody. When I have to smile and say hi, it kind of kills me.
Even though it was insanely muddy and the hems of my pants were dragging on the ground, I was driven into the woods, today.
I don't know why I want it so much, to not be seen.
I used to paint myself like a party balloon. I had pink hair and dreadlocks and boobs out to THERE and I wore makeup and sewed colorful dresses. Everybody looked at me, everywhere I went. I won't claim that I hated it, but I did. I got to hate it.
When I had a baby, I cut my hair, scrubbed my face and put on some goddamn underwear. I didn't know who I was. My appearance had always been a deterrent to some kinds of people and an invitation to others. I was always wild and out of control. I wasn't the kind of girl you brought home to mommy.
Suddenly, I WAS mommy. And, oh my god, mommies aren't wild and fancy. Mommies aren't sexy, they aren't artists. They don't ask for things, least of all attention for themselves. They don't express a point of view. They don't rebel. They don't embarrass themselves. They are mom. They feed babies and put pies on windowsills. They worry about dishpan hands. They take care of themselves. They read books recommended by Oprah. They go jogging in the mornings. They like moderate amounts of things like wine and chocolate. When they're having a really bad day and they're totally losing it, they might call a girlfriend and go shopping. They don't tell their husbands how much they spent.
I wanted to do it right.
I wanted my daughters to be proud of me.
I started to go crazy.
It's been hard for me to let go of these feelings. That moms don't look like I do. They don't say the things I say. They don't build robots out of duct tape and garbage. They don't eat and they don't run wild. They don't ask for things. They don't want freedom. They don't need freedom. They don't question authority. They don't know the devil. They don't remember honey in their veins, a brilliant, blond boy between their thighs, and how it was to die. They don't pull at the threads of their hems. They don't pluck their children from bed and hold them in the eerie light of midnight because they're afraid to be apart in the dark. They don't get into moods where swallowing seems weird, where food looks like a function, where love looks like seagulls and a mating dance.
Moms don't admit things. They might half admit that there's dirt in the kitchen, but it will be cleaned up before anybody arrives. They don't have things inside of them that need to get out. They don't want anything so badly it burns their throats and stains their fingertips. They weren't people, before. They were pretty girls just waiting to be filled. They didn't make mistakes. They weren't pieces of shit. They weren't junkies. Their fathers loved them. They came from homes with enough closet space. They weren't crammed into the arms of God, beaten up by the fists of God.
They aren't forces of nature.
I get confused, sometimes... but not nearly as often as I used to.
I wanted to choose a New Year's Word, like people are doing, nowadays. I remember that in years past, I chose things like "fit" and "organized."
I took a long walk today, expecting that I would come up with a word. I walked the back roads at South Park and kept having to pass joggers and people walking dogs. Waving a little wave and saying, Hi! It was awful. I couldn't bear another moment of, "Oh man, there's somebody coming towards me. I can only just make them out from here, so I'll look down and cover some distance and then look at them again to see if they're close enough for a smile. Okay, it's almost time to smile, hold it, hold it, look down, look up, hold it and... SMILE! Oh no, I smiled too soon. Now I have to look down for a few more seconds and smile again and then say hi. I'm so weird and stupid. Hello and smile and done!"
It's all just too awful. I was just so tired of things like saying hi. I wasn't sure I could bear it another moment.
There was melting snow and mud everywhere. I cut into the woods and spent all afternoon jumping over fallen logs and catapulting myself over mud pits with rotting sticks. I got dirty. My glasses fogged up. I slipped and dropped my keys into the mud. I pretended I was a bear, that I was a monster in the forest. If anybody hiked through my land, I would gobble them up! I slid down an embankment and awkwardly crossed a trickling stream by jumping from rock to rock. I missed my girls. I thought how Scouty has hair the color of the forest floor. Nobody could see me. Nothing matters when nobody can see you. You could have the world's worst secret, you could tell it out loud and it wouldn't matter. I didn't even have the world's worst secret. You could be the world's worst goal setter, and it doesn't matter when you're a bear in the woods.
I might have been tempted to pick the word "fit" again, this year. It's a good thing to be. One of those people who wear bike helmets and spandex shorts and who carry an apple in their back packs and have special gloves for biking.
Fit and lean. I'm pretty sure those are only the kinds of goals I make when people are looking.
The truth is that nobody is actually looking, and if they are, it doesn't matter. The people who REALLY SEE me already know what I am. Nobody else cares. I don't need to be fitter and more organized and more mom-ish. All I need to be is the thing I am when I'm alone, crashing through the brambles like a wild thing. I need to love my family, I need to love my husband and my friends and people who are kind and who touch me. None of those people want me to be "fit" in the new year. None of those people want me to stop straining against my ties.
My One Word for the year is creature.
I don't want to mold myself and improve myself according to a predetermined set of standards. I don't want to be easier to digest. I don't want to fit better into the clothes they sell. I don't want to make more money or organize my things. I don't want to plan my future.
I want to be a bear. I want to be a storm in the trees. I want to be an animal. I want to love what I love. I want to have too much of things. I want to throw something away. I want to be what I am. I want to be happy, like the way I am when nobody is looking. I want to be this creature, strange and inappropriate and imperfect and great and strong and powerful. I want to walk until my legs are sore, crash, crash, CRASH. I want to sing songs that make people afraid. I want to tell stories that say too much and make people nervous. I want to be perfect, just like I am, with dirt on my hems and forgotten hours turning into evening. I want to be a terrible, wonderful monster in the moss.
What's your One Word, this year?