the wrong side

I’m in a foul mood, and there’s no reasoning with it. I’ve filled myself up with chocolates and it hasn’t sweetened a bit. There isn’t a — ta da!– here’s why coming, because I don’t know why.

I truly just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, which is a marvelous feat considering I do not sleep on a bed.

There have been reasons to sustain my mood. The rain and the wind is surely uncalled for, both of them strolling through my city like there’s room, nudging the fog and sun to the side like unwanted leftovers. The construction in the apartment below me is a symphony of din and smells sewer-like, and so do I probably after marinating in it all day, which of course I have to do because a person dies every six minutes in my county from Covid-19. There is an ache in my head that hides from medication, dancing between the bridge of my nose and the corner of my eye.

In a phone call interview, a potential employer was unkind, and set off a series of thoughts that brought me back to prison and death. There’s been so much of the latter.

Would it be unkind to never go to a funeral again?

I don’t know if I could stand it, and it isn’t the done thing to steal the show by proposing to someone at a wedding, or dying at a funeral.

It’s an issue of etiquette. I will literally die if I have to do it one more time, but of course– life has a funny way of testing my limits. Take a deep breath, it says. The deepest breath you think can hold. And then, as I’m holding, it says: take one more. And I do.

And every time, it turns out I can hold much more than I thought.

Did I ever mention my dislike of graduations? You see, my family overdid it. We went to graduation, after graduation, after graduation. For my five brothers and sisters, for my parents and uncles and aunties, for their students, for family friends. By the time I graduated high school, I was absolutely done with the things. Done with the overused quotes. Done with the universal cadence of a graduation speech and the never-comfortable chairs.

I still had to attend, though. My younger brother graduated high school just two years after me, and then my sister graduated college, and then my baby brother graduated high school, and then my little sister, and then I went to prison.

At some point, I remember sitting under a table, telling myself I couldn’t do one more. I wouldn’t.

I just wouldn’t.

When I got to the fire camp program, I was greeted by women I had met at various stages through my journey. They had already started the process of camp. I saw them come home, sweating and aching. I saw them run miles and miles and endless miles. I saw them cleaning rooftops, working like I’d never seen people work. Studying, with heart and focus– flipping through pages of fire information, even if they struggled through it.

When they graduated, I still wasn’t classified so I had to stay in my cell through the ceremony. Tears burned behind my eyes and I was so frustrated that I couldn’t be out there to celebrate them. To celebrate this monumental thing they had done.

I knocked on the door and did something I didn’t think I’d ever do: I begged to attend a graduation. Begged to take another deep breath on top of the too-many I’d already taken.

And I think of that today because I can’t pull my heart from prison memories, and I feel like I don’t want to. There was so much in there, so much in the women there, so much in the world that made the kind of women that could be there. They were so much more than that interviewer.

It is frustrating that I have limits in my ability to explain as much. It is frustrating that I didn’t say anything, and thought all day about whether or not I could say anything.

I can’t afford to, but I will.

I woke up on the wrong side of a deep breath of air. It feels like a chokehold. Everything feels like a poke against my skin and I am envious of the wild wind, knocking down everything in sight. I am envious of the clouds, how they shed all they’ve gathered with wide open arms. Wide arms in the gathering, wide arms in the let go. I am envious of the construction workers, making something of rubble.

They’ve pulled the ceiling off the floor below. They’ve shaken my old flooring so much there are gaps in the hardwood. It gets winter dark early here, and as they work below, the light shines through my floors and its like I am walking on the stars.

It smells here now like they say space smells, acrid and bitter and smoke.

It feels today now like they say it feels in space, lonely mostly.

I tip myself from the hardwood floor onto my kitchen linoleum.

Just like that, falling off the edge of the galaxy.

Just like that.

16 thoughts on “the wrong side

  1. My friends brother had a heart attack in the middle of their cousins funeral a couple of years ago, sadly he passed away a day later but my friends swore her cousin would be waiting for him to wind him up about upstaging her at her own funeral. All we can do is take one day at a time and be thankful for the good days and remember the bad ones are at least evidence we still exist x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh no, Paula, that was thoughtless of me. I do like the good humor that y’all found in the situation, as you know, it’s those little lights that keep us going. Thank you for reading, πŸ™‚

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  2. It’s amazing with your big family and all those graduations for so many successes and accomplishments. I didn’t go to many of my own graduations, and I regret it. I understand what it’s like to feel overwhelmed, in so many ways. Then there’s that breath: just one more. Keep breathing. The visual of you stepping over the hardwood floor board that illuminates like star shine and being in the smell of space itself, now that sounds like crossing over to the other side, in a good way, in an alive way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ka. Yes, looking back, I’m very proud of the achievements of my circle. When I was truly in the center of it, it just felt like an endless parade, ha! But perspective is a beautiful gift of time. I know you know how it is to have things coming at you from a million different directions so I feel extra supported by your call for one more deep breath. πŸ™‚ Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know this isn’t the point of your post, but you know how my brain works… Do you really not sleep on a bed, or was that just something you wrote to help the flow of the post? If you don’t sleep on a bed, where do you sleep? Just so you know, I’m picturing you sleeping in a blanket fort. I am fully aware that my imagination has probably run far off the path… but isn’t that what imaginations are supposed to do?
    Also, in my opinion (not that my opinion matters much…) people who cannot be kind to everyone that they interview should not be allowed to hold the position of interviewer.
    Sending lots and lots of love your way.❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I really do not. I sleep on the floor in a puddle of blankets and pillows, so more like a blanket raft than a blanket fort. Beds are just too mushy for my body. I have a thing where my joints dislocate sometimes and that happens less when they can’t just move around willynilly. I agree with your opinion! Unfortunately kindness has a lot of stripes and jokes obscure it, and it’s not as finite as a thing as people tend to imagine it. It makes it hard to even know if someone knows they’re being unkind sometimes. πŸ™‚ Lots of love back!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A blanket raft. I like that. It’s basically the fort without the “walls” made of blankets, so I actually wasn’t all that far off which makes me irrationally happy. πŸ˜„
        You make a very good point about kindness. I know that I sometimes fall far short of the mark without realizing it until later. I guess the point is to always learn from when we fail, gently tell others when they have failed so that they have the chance to do better, and, most importantly, always actually strive to do better.

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    1. πŸ™‚ Thank you, Alison. I took a page out of your book today and started the day dressed in clothes I love rather than the easiest thing to grab/wear. It’s already helping. πŸ˜€

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  4. I find graduations to be insanely, insidiously boring. I go when it’s someone I care about, but I don’t think I’ve ever *enjoyed* the experience.

    On an unrelated note, I love love love the tag “grumpybananapants.” I may need to steal that one. I’ve been using the phrase “that’s banana wheat!” as an exclamation of crazyness for quite a while, and I feel the need to extend my banana-related vocabulary for things.

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