Caveat Emptor

Somehow, she’s gone.  Finally I have to admit it.  She’s gone and I don’t know how to get her back – or if I even want her back.  But if she’s gone, who is left in her place?

Sadly I am afraid I know the answer to that.  Who is left is me.  A frumpy, nearly fifty divorcee – let’s be honest, twice divorced – who teaches school, rarely wears make-up, and looks like every other sad-sack, lonely, bitter, middle-aged, gave-up-on-life woman shopping in Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. in hopes of avoiding everyone she knows. How did that happen?  That has NEVER been me, and yet…now it is.  I saw myself tonight, reflected in the Food Lion store front.  I was startled.  Sort of.  But not really.  It’s like I always thought: the picture of Dorian Gray really does exist. 

A few months ago, that same Food Lion window showed a smiling middle-aged woman.  Perhaps a little chubbier than the new girl, but she looked…hopeful.  She smiled.  People around her smiled and even jockeyed to be around her, in hopes that some of that glow, that cheeriness, would rub off on them.  She skipped through the line, bowed to the cashier, laughed her thanks.

This new woman walks with her head down.  She titptoes through the line, makes as little eye contact with other customers as possible, and whispers her thanks to the cashier before scurrying out of the store like a mouse running to its hole. 

Everyone asks her what is wrong – although they all know.  Everyone has been dismayed, however, by my inability to bounce back, to be “me” again.  They say I am angry and reclusive.  Me?

I know what happened, I do.  A hope, a belief,  that was born in the dreams of a twelve-year old girl, has died.  A belief in something “out there”, something that belonged especially to her…a belief so strong, so all-encompassing, that it alone was enough to get her through the worst moments of her life – rape, physical and emotional abuse, betrayal, pain, near-death experiences, anything thrown at her.  Somehow all she had to do was focus on that dearly held belief, focus very carefully on it, and she disassociated from the evil around her; it  could only touch her in the most peripheral sort of way.  Faith.  Hope.  Belief.  That’s how she got through life — and please understand that she also believed in God and Jesus, but this other belief, it was different.  Is that why it had to end?  Because her dream- born belief meant so much to her?  Was it an offense to God? 

That might make an odd kind of sense.  He would let me have that belief, that dream of acceptance and completeness for most of my life, then say….

“Ah, here, Robin.  Test it.  See if it is what you have always believed it to be.”

He already knew the answer.  I was afraid of the answer but decided to put my faith  in…I’ll admit it, my god; not the Our-Father-Who-Art-in-Heaven God – although I admit I believed He was rewarding me for my faith and constancy and my selflessness in giving him up in the past; but in my Hero, my angel, my soul.

Everyone encourages you to follow your heart, follow your dreams.  Be careful if you do.  You might lose that one little piece of hope you held onto, the one thing that made life livable and semi- worthwhile.  That hope was always there.  Once it’s gone? 

I guess you end up like me. 

Caveat emptor.  And yes, I meant to say that and not Carpe Diem.

********  sorry for the shifts in person  ********

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2 Responses to “Caveat Emptor”

  1. This piece is really strong, left my jaw wrecked. The hope of things seems to me to be always left opaque and without clarity. Sometimes that thing comes out only as a contrast, slight and fleeting, to everything else around it. In this work it seems to be the invocation of the teacher. One who, in order to be good in her craft, must work as one who inspires, but leaves none of it for herself. Or maybe that’s just me and Monty Python, always looking on the bright side of life.

    M

    • m – thank you for the comment. you and monty python — me and pollyanna (an old disney movie). always looking on the bright side of life. always could find it before, but am having an extremely difficult time with that at the moment. i think that’s what i meant when i wrote “that has never been me…angry and reclusive? me??” i am struggling to deal with something that tore apart the entire fabric of my belief system. i’m sure i’ll find a way to bounce back but it is taking a very long time. and i’m tired of it. but thank you for your
      kindness. every little bit of encouragement means more than any one can know. take care.

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