Tuesday, December 2, 2008

season of "ignoring"

Third post today. Obsessive compulsive, I know. I am feeling really emotional today though. I ran inside the house just now, intending to grab a bite to eat, then run to the store. Grocery, clothing, whatever. Any store will do. And then, as I was heating up my coffee, it dawned on me: this is what I do. I shop when I am suppressing things. The challenge, now that my coffee is hot and ready to go, is for me to sit down and relax. And, if possible allow myself to feel something.

So many emotions pour in; there's pain, anger, guilt, confusion. I grasp for some kind of sense, explanation, control. I am always clamoring for control. I must KNOW why I feel what I feel in order to REIN it back in. This is how I function and though it makes for a lot of indigestion and the occasional ulcer, it's also what gets me by.

In class today my African American Lit. Professor pointed out the beautiful function of writing in post-slavery years. "It was a form of free expression," she said. "It was their way of rising above their circumstance." I was touched by her words and quickly located a pencil to write down this revelation, this common sense description that impressed- so impressed me.

Perhaps this is why I am still here. Writing. I am writing and thinking, yes, thinking too.

I am in the middle of a holiday season. I stand only 1 week past Thanksgiving and 3 from Christmas. I listen to strange tunes on the radio, such as "All I want for Christmas is a Hippopotamus" that make me smile for nearly 4 minutes in traffic. I also notice more of my surroundings, the change in design of Starbucks and other stores. I've noticed wreaths, lights and dove-stamped cups in Portland. I have taken a picture of a few. And the whole world seems, happier, softer somehow.

It's when I think about Thanksgiving that some of this fades. I remember my sister crying in the kitchen over the most amazing mashed potatoes I've ever tasted. I remember my Aunt reaching a gentle hand to her shoulder as I quietly stepped back, out of reach and out of earshot. I tasted my potatoes and smiled at Grandma sitting in the other room. I imagined my nieces crying for their mother, wondering why she couldn't take them home for Christmas.

It's when I think of brothers and sisters I won't see this year, that Christmas tunes lose their appeal. I won't see them, touch them, hear their voices. There will be an empty spot in my memories for them this year.

I have always treated the holidays as the season of "ignoring". Ignore the pain, ignore the losses, ignore the aches. I feel pressured to be an electronic greeting card, that sings a merry tune upon request. And what a shame too, because if anything, the holidays should be a time of honesty, comfort and community. It should be the time for family and friends to gather and mend each others wounds.

So, I'm going to think on that for a bit. I mean, truly think on it. No self-medicated shopping for me, at least today ( :

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