Inspired by the poet Joe Brainard.
I remember one sunny August day in Jackson’s Point, the tar so wonderfully warm
under my feet.
I remember coming home from school one cold winter morning thinking it was lunch when it was actually recess, and how shamed I felt when my mother explained my mistake.
I remember shivering in the rain for hours; waiting for ‘Phantasmagoria’ to open their doors so I could be the first in Montréal to hear the new Bay City Rollers album.
I remember sitting in the lopsided chair at my grandmothers scarred wooden table waiting patiently for my favourite meal of all time, a peasant dish from the old country: whitefish, carrots, and potatoes.
I remember floating on a large red and blue striped raft in St. Tropez,
totally zen’d out by the soft motion of the sea.
I remember gently kissing the three dark brown freckles on Debbie Dankoff’s nose.
I remember pulling the Ace of Pentacles during my daily tarot ritual then, eureka! finding a crinkled fifty dollar bill on the sidewalk.
I remember the smell of Jane’s favourite plaid shirt, a heady combination of tobacco and Juicy Fruit.
I remember hiking up Mount Mansfield with my puppy Lucille, my right toe chafing at the tip of my worn out Blundstone thinking yes; it hurts but soon I will be there.
This morning I was upset for once again losing emotional control during my bi-monthly breakfast with my ex – girlfriend M.J. I have always told M.J that the most contained person wins, and this morning as always; she won. I have been musing all day about why ‘losing’ has such resonance for me.
Thich Nhat Hanh has said being mindful can make washing the dishes a profound event, as theory to which I totally subscribe. During my evening dishes meditation, a childhood memory floated up to my consciousness . My father Joe was a brilliant and charismatic man. Joe was also a very angry man, and that angry part would appear when I was ‘bad’, and I would be punished for my ‘badness’.
What were my transgressions? Speaking my mind; having my own opinion which almost always differed from his; and behaving in general as if I had my own agency. This in a family where individuality was not prized; was dangerous.
As a child I had the idea that if I never showed emotion during punishment which dependant on his mood ; vacillated between yelling or hitting with a strap; then I ‘won’.
I couldn’t stop my father from hitting me, but I could withhold my tears, not giving him the satisfaction of seeing me broken. I stopped crying when I was six, and did not cry again until my early forties. I have spent more than a considerable amount of time in therapy, deconstructing my insistence on wearing a mask. Even with all those therapy hours, the belief that protected is better than vulnerable has stayed with me until today.
How many people still wear the masks they put on in childhood, believing these masks will keep them safe from harm? I wore so many, for so long that I almost believed that I was not wearing one at all, such was my self-deception. Masks not only kept me from being seen, they also denied people the opportunity to see. Today I declare that my vulnerability is my super power, and I choose now to be seen in all my messy, tearful glorious beauty.