you choose your choices

“Put on my heels,” she ordered, kicking her shoes off towards me, still balancing the bulky camera in her hand.  “We’ll get a better picture if you’re a few inches taller.”

I argue, half-heartedly. I asked for her help because she knows photography, and I don’t, so I figure I should take her advice whether or not it makes sense to me.  I slip on the shoes.

“I’m not photographing your feet.  Someone would have to have you memorized in order to know you’re in shoes too big.  I think we’ll be okay.”  She snaps the pictures with efficiency, and then strides barefoot across the pavement to collect her heels.

Later, I put that picture on everything.  People liked the way the light fell over my smile, and said so often.  I knew the sun was only able to reach me at all because of the borrowed shoes, but she didn’t photograph my feet, so no one else needed to know.

It’s not like anyone memorized me.
__________________________________

Do you ever start writing and not know exactly what you’re trying to say?  There are all these little stories that seem important somehow.  I circle them, and I feel like a huntress.

The thoughts hide, flittering across the frontier of my mind, ducking into areas where they are camouflaged.  But I hunt them still.

Often I write until I know what I’m talking about.
This one is about accepting blame,
because I have to.

I choose my choices, and even if I would choose the same choices again, and even if I felt cornered into the choosing–
I chose.

And with that choice comes the accepting of responsibility.

I left for over a year.
I became a felon.

And because of those things– the former much more often than the latter– I am trusted less.

To be fair, it’s a miracle I’m trusted at all.  Most of my friends and family had no idea what was happening.  I did a very poor job of keeping people updated once I decided to stop fighting.  My silence was a lie,

and then I abandoned them,
and then I came back hardened.

To be fair, even before I left, I was someone they struggled to know. Dave and I lived in a bubble for two.

It’s this part in the story where the kind human seeks to soothe.  I’m not the abuser in this story, or the twisted legal system.  It’s not a crime to spend all your minutes with the love of your life. I wasn’t frolicking on warm sea shores, I was suffering.

All true… but it’s also true that I stopped fighting.  It’s true that I chose to turn myself in. It’s true that I let a lot of the inside into my heart.

I signed a deal, I accepted time.
I let bright orange clothes dye my heart.
I chose my choices.

__________________________________

He was an artist and he knew every line of my body.   The pace of my breaths, the bend of my fingers, the flip of my hair.  He painted me, he painted on me.

I would sit patiently as he sketched me onto his pages. He barely glanced my way, knowing exactly how I looked from memory. I would joke that he only asked me to sit so that I’d stay still for a few minutes instead of running around the house. He never disputed the claim, and only a small smile on his face as his charcoal pencils danced across the paper told me he heard at all.

I’d stare at the drawings of me after he was finished, trying to see the me that he saw. “She’s beautiful,” I’d tell him, holding the outline of a nearly unrecognizable woman sparking with movement and intensity.

“I know,” he’d say, and then he would kiss her and file her away.

A thousand drawings of that girl later– written or sketched or painted– we drove by a tall brick wall. He pulled over to stare at it and I peered over his shoulder, always always trying to see what he saw.

“That’s the wall in the first picture I ever saw of you, but there’s something wrong with it.”

I remembered the picture suddenly, and the space and the shoes. It was years before and I am not an artist.  To me, a brick wall is just a brick wall.  I may have stood in front of hundreds in my life, or it might have been just the one.  I have no idea.

I searched the brick for the flaws he saw– always, always trying to see what he saw– but he started the car again so I asked.  “What was wrong with it?”

“It’s three inches too short.” he said, turning the car effortlessly as we drove away, “You must have been wearing someone else’s shoes.”

Someone had memorized me after all.

______________________________

In the visiting room, he walked toward me, and I read the whole story of the day in his body language.  I felt the easy connection between us, felt my body relaxing for the first time in over a year.  It was one of those moments where the world adjusts, and you only notice the need for adjustment as it’s happening.  It’s reading in the dark, then someone turns on a light.  It’s sitting in the sun, then someone brings you a cold cup of water.

I hadn’t seen Dave without bullet-proof glass between us since the day I turned myself in, and I didn’t even know I was parched in darkness, till I saw him walking toward me.

“Hey handsome,” I said, and he smiled, and for a second everything seemed okay.

We hugged and he remarked on it, “I forgot how short you are.”

The comment surprised us both.  We stared at each other for a minute, processing what that meant.  A hundred years of conversation passed between us in a blink– a brick wall, a wedding, a thousand kissed charcoal drawings, a million moments of my head resting on his shoulder.

It was our first moment together all over again– meeting a stranger, meeting a best friend– but it was tinged with sadness instead of excitement.

He had forgotten me.

My chin lifted then, and my shoulders straightened, and I lifted the weight of the sadness onto my shoulders.

I counted my blessings.  We still had whole conversations with our eyes.  He was wearing a shirt– Smokey the Bear smoking a cigarette– as a nod toward my job and I laughed, as he expected me to.  Maybe he forgot little details, but he still knew me better than he knew anyone else, better than I was known by anyone else.

There are consequences to actions, all actions, and even when you aren’t directly to blame, sometimes you must bear the costs of it.  Lately, recently, I am reminded of that often. 

I am trusted less by the people I love.
Trusted less, because I left, I remind myself, not loved less.

Sometimes it seems that they don’t know me.
Yet, I remind myself. Yet..

It is a hard burden to bear.  It is easy to overreact, easy to be hurt by it, easy to let it make me spiral and ache.

But I can carry it, and I will carry it because sometimes the roads we pick are long and lonely, difficult and painful, and have costs that we could never have imagined.

I understand, and I accept.
The boat already left and I was on it.

I chose my choices.

 

youchooseyourchoices
Sam Brown / ExplodingDog.com

61 Comments

  1. The great thing about trust is that, except for the hardest hearts, it can be rebuilt. And you’ll soon know who in your life has the hardest hearts, which is surprisingly useful information.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. So true, Jim. I think my recent life experiences have whittled away most of the ones who needed whittling. The ones left aren’t even conscious of the reduction of trust, I think. It’s more obvious to me because I was in a time capsule. .. but for them, life went on. And that’s the good news too… life goes on, giving trust plenty of time to rebuild. 🙂 Thanks for reading, Jim.

      Like

  2. “Do you ever start writing and not know exactly what you’re trying to say?”
    Often. It’s cathartic and healing for me. Sometimes it hurts like hell to see the words that appear, other times it warms my soul. Either way it’s about getting real with myself and that in itself always takes me to a better place.
    Marianne

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I start with a word, or a hurt, or a joy. Then I just start jotting down a story and it’s often not till the end that I have any idea why it was relevant. It’s confusing, but– as you say– real. Thank you, Marianne, for sharing a bit of your process.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I can think of several responses and actually wrote two of them. Then erased them because they seem wholly inadequte. But, really I think the best response is: You are loved.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m sure whatever you wanted to say was plenty adequate. Thank you for putting thought into my word scramble. And yes, I am loved, and I’m lucky to know it with such certainty even when getting little booboos from life. And I love you! I’m lucky to know that, and you, too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In a world all too quick to pass blame to someone, something else, it is nice to know there are still people who stand in the truths of their choices and except all that comes as a result. Perhaps that is pessimistic of me to say. Perhaps I need better friends. Perhaps that is just the story we are being sold on today. But, I doubt it. My eyes have been open for a long time, and there are very few like you in this regard.
    Love and trust are so often cast together, we often forget they can be separate as well. For what is it worth, I trust you and I love you. Not because one demands the other, but because you are worthy of both.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you, Matt. I love and trust you. The latter because your eyes are so open and the former because you give so much love anyway. I remember writing to you after my visit with Dave, commenting on the short comment. Oh did it sting! But it prepared me for what I’d see here because if going away made me lose some of even Dave, then of course I’d have lost with others. I am lucky I had that forewarning. It makes it just a little bit easier. ♡ Thank you for everything.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Tons of good people, and tons of people with the potential for good if they have the opportunity to let it blossom. If you remember that, then it’s just about finding ways to make more opportunities available to people and we’re well on our way to solving everything. 😉 ❤

          Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s strange but sometimes when I go ‘home’ to my family I feel like an outsider. They don’t trust me either because of choices I had to make in the past. Do they love me? That’s up in the air most times. Sometimes I think they do and most times I think they don’t. So I feel some of what you are going through. Life does go on, though. You are right there. For them and for us. Our life just has a few more bends in it than theirs but there is nothing wrong with that either. We are supposed to have those bends in our lives. For whatever reason. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Everything outside of Dave feels like the “outside”. That sounds dramatic but it’s true. Remember when I was trying to get him to divorce me so he wouldn’t be drawn into the financial tangles of the legalities? I said something like, what if we really get divorced while I’m in here? And he said, well, I’d be an awkward drive home. ♡ Because divorced or not, of course he’d pick me up. Of course I’d go home to him. He was my best friend.

      Oh such a mess. It’s like I’ve been in a bubble for a decade.

      But I know that life goes on, until it doesn’t. And I know I love you, maybe even a little more because of the bends in your road. ❤

      Like

      1. I can understand your feeling that. About Dave and the ‘outside’. I do remember when you tried to get him to divorce you. I also remember shaking my head and thinking “he would never do that as you two belong with each other”.
        Yeah, life goes on. Maybe even after we are ‘gone’. Who knows for sure? I’d like to think there is much for than ‘this’. I love you too my friend, bends and all.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Bare feet on hard ground. Someone who really REALLY knew you – enough to forget. Enough to remember.

    And sometimes the choices we make are best of a bad bunch, because NONE of the choices could have turned out well, not really.

    You are trustworthy. Time will return that knowledge with knowing.

    Love you, Sparkly One. Keep telling your stories ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lizzi. I love you, too. That’s the thing about choices, so often we’re left with hard ones and bad ones, but after living without choices for so long, I’m grateful for them all, and happy to stand in the truth of them, and pay the cost. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I say this damn near every time you post (except for the poems… yeah, the poems), but this time it’s true, “This is your best post… ever”. Like you say, you’re a storyteller, not a writer.

    This was a gut-punch in hardcore prose. That’s how you tell a story… in three-inch heels.

    #rawr ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Mr. Friday, I felt it was a little disconnected so I appreciate your finding the theme I sensed but couldn’t identify. Do what you gotta to get that sunlight in your smile, right?

      Right.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ouuuuuccch. If sharing pain diminishes it then I hope the thimbleful I just took reading that lessened the oceanful you swim in.

    As my mother wrote to me once: “spring is here- good things to come.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Some really don’t, and that’s my own fault too. Dave and I were so together that we often left others out, especially if they didn’t connect online.

      And, to be fair to many of the situations that have hurt my feelings, it’s like I was demoted from a level 10 trust to an 8 or 9. They still trust me more than most. .. just not as much as I’m used to. I just remind myself that’s is still so soon for them. They weren’t in a time capsule like I was.

      Also, I love you. Thank you for taking the time to know me. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I have recently reflected on how I have drifted from my friends, and how without inviting awkward socialising I could close that gap but I fear changes I’m not yet equipped to make need to happen
    Then I’m reminded how many bridges I’ve cut, not burned, to avoid facing my past ghosts or retreading old ground
    I only wish I knew how those labeled ‘Normal’ manage relationships without the troubles I have

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Maybe those shoes and their owner, were prescient. They knew that you would need to stand in shoes taller than your own. Because you would have some rough water to ford. But you are doing it, Rara. We all love and remember Dave. He is in our hearts. Not as much as in yours, but that it as it should be.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Try not to be so hard on yourself. It’s not like the consequences of your decision were known beforehand. You did the best you could with the information you had at the time.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Oh, what a sad, beautiful, true, true, true thing to write. And what a love story. I remember when a friend of mine was lamenting a very grown-up mistake she’d made, I got to thinking about it (and I was just a foolish 21-year-old and she was a grown-up approaching divorce) and I thought it wasn’t really a mistake she’d made. Just a choice. And the wonder of that is she got to make another choice. And another. And she marched on. For the most part it’s not mistakes we make, just choices that make us. Or at least I hope so.
    Wishing you more choices, more boats, more journeys, more love.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I love the way you talk about Dave. Everyone wants the kind of love where you know each other so well that you can have conversations without words. I’m so sorry life has cost you so. Obviously you were not up to that fight, and although we all wanted to help and support you in that fight…it was still your fight, and no matter how much any of us would have liked to…we couldn’t fight it for you. It sure doesn’t seem at all fair to me that choosing not to fight cost you all that it has. Based on the options I am aware of…not fighting although taking you away…seems was the best choice. I don’t think I will ever get over how wrong that is. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Met an old friend recently. I too had left, on the run. But I was forgiven. The things we had accomplished together outweighed my leaving. It was an important lesson for me. Not one I had expected. Also “felt my body relaxing for the first time in over a year…” That’s how I feel when I return to the wilderness. Curt

    Liked by 3 people

  15. As usual, your words take my breath away. I don’t believe our choices define us. Love defines us: who we love and who loves us – that gives our lives definition and meaning. Of that, you are daily proof, Ra.

    Peace,
    C.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Wow! You’re powerful and lovely. Your words too are filled with power, beauty, hope and sadness. Thank you. You will someday find another who will memorize and maybe even sketch you too. Happy Tuesday.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. I don’t know what I am exactly supposed to say.
    I just love this,,, everything
    the acceptance.. the thing about accepting the consequences of your choices,
    I think that is the road towards betterment…
    Thank you so much for sharing
    I loved how it started “wearing someone else’s shoes”
    and then how you came back to “you must be wearing someone else’s shoes”
    Just love the connection.
    It hit me hard.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. some people will throw stuff because their mad or their spoiled and it’s sad if they are spoiled. I have seen so many kids that are really spoiled. They would throw stuff,kick their moms,ect. and I think it’s so hard for the parents how their kids do that to them.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. ‘Dave and I lived in a bubble for two.’

    Your words capture a thought I had between a few tears this past weekend. My bubble is still as big as it was when my Christopher shared it, but now that he’s Elsewhere (probably having artist conversations with Dave), there are times when it’s too big … so big it’s tight like a plastic bag. It takes my breath away. I know the bubble for two. Not because of the same stuff, but still …

    And there are bunches of us who would trust you with every smidge of life we have, even if we aren’t right there to put it in your very caring and loving hands. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Another hauntingly beautiful post, Rara. The part when you said he had forgotten you really hit me hard. I know that kind of closeness you always talk about and I know I am fortunate to have him sitting beside me on the couch right now with one of our cats in his lap.

    I guess in some way, I’m thanking you for that reminder…though that doesn’t feel right either.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Please don’t be too hard on yourself. You made the best choices you could in an impossible situation. You’re still making choices, even now: Choosing to see the beauty in the world and to share that beauty with all of us.

    You are trusted and you are trustWORTHY – don’t let yourself tell you otherwise.

    Getting to know Dave, through your posts, I’m sure he would have something witty and disarming to say about any such thoughts and, to him, you were likely always taller, reaching for the stars x

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Inspiration and comforting are needed by us all. You’re a perpetual source of inspiration and comfort, they’re both symptoms of your awesome love; I’m one of many who’re inspired and comforted by that love. Thank you for following Edward Fagan Blog, I’m honoured by your doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for liking my comment above. I forgot to mention that I was also humbled by your following the blog. Regarding “You Choose Your Choices”, it is well written, detailed, deep, insightful and a virtual learning experience for all of us. Rejoice that you made the best available choices in the situation and that you were courageous in doing so. You were wounded but not defeated, you won. Time will heal the wounds and and end the pain and you’ll smile again.

      Like

  23. Hello.
    You wrote this days ago. Sometimes the world feels so instant that I never have time to gather my thoughts – to say what I want to say, to even understand what I think.

    I saw your transition to prison differently. I didn’t view your silence as a lie, more like self-preservation. A protective barrier that let you deal with the horrors as they happened, a barrier that shielded you from wrongs. No questions equals no answers equals no questions. I can see the benefits of that. Lies can exist within silence, but not when they are born this way. This is like heart ache. But for the silence, we would have carried you sooner.

    When you ‘stopped fighting’, I viewed it as a choice, not a sign of guilt. A choice as valid as any other. There’s a difference between not flighting and choosing to let go. Perhaps your choices would have been different had you known what life would deal you. I wish I could change that.

    You call yourself a felon but it’s an incongruous truth.

    You are Ra.

    Like

  24. I think it takes a very brave person to recognise that no matter how hard they try, the only way to win the battle is by stopping fighting themselves. So the other guys think they won, but we know they didn’t. They will be judged by the one who judges all, and they are the ones who will be found lacking, not you, Ra.

    I love you, for you are lovely, and I trust you, for you ARE trustworthy.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. When you went in – feels like forever ago now – I shared your story (what bits of it I knew anyway) with my husband, as he wanted to know what I was so upset about. His first response was “how do you know she’s telling the truth? How can you trust the word of this person you only know from the internet?” My answer was “I know. Deep down somehow, I can’t explain it, but I do.” ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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