jumping

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The voices with bad news build. I can feel the tension rising outside of me and it invades my body. My shoulders rise toward my ears, my breathing shortens, my neck tightens. I swallow it all. Violently the words and sneers and lies and overwhelming truths force their way down my throat burning all the way down. They reach my heart with stabbing pains. The weight of them moves my heart from my chest to my stomach until I can take no more. I vomit until my eyes bulge from my head and then I jump.

Off of the cliff and feel free in the air. The voices can’t catch me. I jump and fall feeling my shoulders release and a smile creep onto my face. As I shoot through the water, feet first, the cold slithers up my skin. I sink into the quiet. I can hear the beat of my heart in my ears and it slows. The water holds me in place and makes me feel safe from the problems of the world. For a moment I am just me. I am only concerned about me. I am selfish and don’t feel guilt.

Then my lungs make a polite request. Before long they are asking more sternly and then they are yelling. They are screaming. They are making threats and demanding. They are bartering with me. They beg.

With little movement I give in. My arms cut through the water to embrace my sides and my face breaks the surface.

I am back to reality. I am back to the middle space between the micro and the macro. I can focus again and make choices. I am not free, but the illusion of freedom is in place again. I begin my swim to the shore and hold onto my memories from the micro. My safe space with precision focus, where all that matters is the present moment.

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I Can See Godzilla

My whole life I could see the destruction caused by Godzilla. I felt pain when it maimed and killed people who looked like me. I saw the hatred it pulled out of people who didn’t look like me. I can see those faces yelling and crying. I can see the faces mourning lost loved ones in the wake of a powerful force.

It has only been within recent years that I started to see Godzilla itself. At first, I thought I was crazy. For many years a Godzilla sighting would make me feel this way. “No, no Eichelle. Don’t be crazy.” It’s the magic of this powerful being. There are too many people who benefit from not seeing it.

Now I see Godzilla. I see this giant green monster destroying the country I live in. Killing mothers and babies. Disappearing and murdering women. Taking lives on a regular basis with no recourse. People get upset for a while, but it’s too crazy to believe that a monster caused all the chaos. So, we just pretend that everything is fine. Anyone who dares admit that we as a people are sick with poison and being killed by a monster, we write them off. Just people angry for no reason. Or people trying to scapegoat their problems instead of taking responsibility for themselves.

At first it was hard to truly see Godzilla. I didn’t want it to be true. Now I see it and I must decide what to do about it. What am I going to do about the systems of injustice, white supremacy and patriarchy that affect me? Systems I am complicit in, systems I benefit from. What am I going to do?






 

The analogy of Godzilla as a representation for systems of injustice fueled by white supremacy and patriarchy came to me on a hike with my husband. I was angry. This is not an emotion I allow myself to feel often, but I am getting better at it. Godzilla is perfect, because for those of us who see these systems a monster is what we see. There are piles and piles of data that show racism is taking lives. It’s happening right now, but to say that is as radical as to say a large green monster has invaded downtown Tokyo.

It doesn’t change however that it’s the truth. A truth I have to come to terms with. I see the monster and now I must decide what I am going to do about it.

A Black Scar in the Carpet

a creative nonfiction piece

As she past the black dress on the floor, she was reminded of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. Many years previous, in her theater design class, she watched a documentary about the designer of that memorial, Maya Lin. During the documentary, there was a veteran who had called the memorial nothing more than ‘a black scar’ within the earth. This dress was that for her living room floor.

She had set it out to dry two days ago. It was to be worn at the funeral of a distant aunt. The young woman didn’t own any black dresses. She only ever ended up buying them for funerals and then never wore them again. Her mother had suggested that she go to the local thrift store. She had and was happy to find two outfits for under fifteen dollars. The young woman had planned on attending both the wake and funeral. This was before she knew that later in the week she would be traveling to Arizona to help her husband say goodbye to his grandfather. Now the dress would be worn to the grandfather’s funeral instead.

Death had been lingering in her mind for a few weeks now. A conversation with a friend had reignited an old curiosity around the death of one of her uncles. He had died at the hands of the police. There had always been mystery around his death. He was alive. The police officers entered the room. They pushed him to the ground and then he never got up again. This was all the family knew. She had promised herself that someday she would meet the men or women who were in that room when her uncle died. She kept thinking about her uncle.

This had led to thoughts of her other uncle, the sweet grumpy one who had died less than a year ago. His birthday was coming up. He would have been 51. She knew this because for his 50th birthday they celebrated. Her mom got pizza and ice cream cake and invited all his friends. The young woman and her husband had joined. She had taken many, many pictures that day. She had felt connected to her family and so happy. After all, a main reason she moved to North Dakota was to get to know her family better.

Her efforts had not gone as she had hoped. They were all busy and had lives of their own. They were also different than she was and many of the numerous clan didn’t know her. She had grown up in cities far away. Many of them had grown up in North Dakota on farms or ranches. She knew they loved her, but during family events she always felt separate, not really knowing who to talk to. Her family loved her, of this there was no question, and if she needed help they would drop everything for her. She had desired something else though. She wanted to feel that she belonged. This would only come with time, but she knew her time in North Dakota was in its final lap. Her husband and she planned to leave within the next two years. Now was the only time left to make true connections. Being a military brat, she knew how hard it was to maintain relationships over a distance.

This desire to belong was only deepened by the sense of cultural bankruptcy which became more apparent daily. She had grown up off her reservation, away from her tribe. She didn’t speak her language or understand the traditions and customs of her people. In the past year, for the first time, she had bumped into many who were interested to know and understand her culture. Which put her in a particularly difficult situation since she didn’t know it herself. Her mother had done what all the elders of her time told her, “Get off the rez.” Now this choice, made before the young woman was even a thought in her parents’ minds, caused her to feel set apart from her tribe.

On top of this, she missed her church family. It had been two years since she had been to church, but she finally missed them. She had left because of questions she had about the character of God. These questions had proved large and vast. They would take time to answer. Sitting in church growing bitter would do no good, or so she believed.

Quietly she sat down at her black kitchen table, staring at the dress. All she could think about was the great longing in her heart. Since moving to North Dakota she had lost a friend, an uncle and now an aunt. Soon her husband would lose a grandfather. Her mother had somehow survived the loss of both her parents and three brothers, not to mention the aunt who helped raise her and the grandmother who was a mother to her. The young women questioned if she had the strength to be like her mother. Could she survive more loss? Did she even have a choice?

The long black dress on the floor seemed to grow and shift. It was a reminder of the trip her husband and she would take in two days. It was a reminder of another ending of a life. The names of her uncles, her friend and her aunt pounded in her head.

Endings had always proved problematic for the young woman. She loved potential and an end was the death of potential. In the past few months she had become more comfortable with endings, but the end of potential for a human life still caused her great trouble. She had yet to open the cards she received after her sweet grumpy uncle’s funeral. She couldn’t. Like many she sought to delay the end. This was a lie.

Truly, the only lie she tolerated. You can’t delay the end of a life. Maybe this was why she couldn’t bring herself to pick the dress up off of the floor. If she disturbed it, something could happen. If she moved it, she would have to acknowledge that something was happening.

This day was the day her distant aunt would be buried. The day before, the young woman had seen the grieving family. They had asked her to return tomorrow, but she knew she couldn’t. Being at the wake had made the names pounding in her head grow louder. She had to be there for her husband. Soon he would be the family grieving.

She felt inadequate. Her power had always been in words. They made things clearer and signaled so much in her life, but when death came to visit the young woman, words failed. The things she depended on so often. They failed her. They were useless and wrong and out of place. They were nothing. They are nothing.

There is Peace

The world slowly tries to wake. Slowly it stretches reaching toward all the possibilities.

The city is quite. Not yet filled with conscious beings. A stillness rest on every building and road like a blanket of fresh sparkling dew.

The wind abruptly shifts the leaves in the trees. It gently kisses my skin awake.

Then the sunbeams touch my eyes. The dirt beneath me begins to warm my fingertips.

I don’t want to shift just yet. If I move I will break the delicate blanket of stillness.

But my nose itches. I twitch it.

The stillness slips away.

 

 

My mind races leaping from one to do item to the next.

Life begins to move to the tune of the train. Racing to meet the clock.

Gotta Go   Gotta Go   Gotta Go

3pm reaches my body and I start to slow. I must race forward but I can’t.

 

 

Tea time. A safe space where I can slowly sip my thoughts away.

 

 

Then back to the race. Go Faster. Be Better. Do More.

Errands before dinner.

Quick dinner then clean the house.

Take a minute to relax.

More Errands.

 

 

Twilight happens. It begs me to stop. Slow down. Twilight demands admiration.

But it is only the night. The stars and the moon. They captivate me.

They demand my attention with their beauty, their mystery.

 

 

I lay gazing upward. The grass tickles my skin. Then I settle in.

The cool earth releases all the tension in my muscles.

The moonlight reflects off of the water. It dances on the little waves. My eyes rhythmically follow the dancing.

Then swiftly the wind moves past my ears whispering ancient secrets. The last things I hear as my eyes slowly close ready for sleep.

 

 

Ready for peace.

Root Means to Strike

Fuck. The words root means to strike. It is a word of violence. Violent explosion of ecstasy. Violent murderous rage. Violent violation of human flesh. Violent paralyzed state preventing you from moving forward. It stands in when what is in front of you can’t be named. When what lay before you is so horrifying you can’t move. The monster under the bed sits in front of you ready to eat you whole. All you have left is an expletive that can explain all that you feel in one word. Fuck.