"I have learned, that to be with those I like, is enough." Walt Whitman
Today's dream is one my friend with the crush shared with me when we were on our first break. She was at home and went down to the basement. In real life they have a ping pong table with a bunch of stuff on it. I can't imagine this. My sister talked me out of getting a ping pong table for my place when I first moved. It's still a dream I have. Owning a ping pong table and not using it is incomprehensible to me, but I digress. In her dream she finds that there's a bunch of mood lighting, and her basement is now a physical therapy clinic. Her crush is there, but won't speak to her. She goes upstairs to get some sparkling water, there are two choices and she knows it is important to get this water downstairs. When she looks outside she sees his vehicle parked between two others. He's trapped and she starts panicking because she doesn't know how he's going to get out. His hair is longer and it has gel in it, she used to do hair so things like this are obvious to her. She wakes up feeling sad that she lacks closure and her problem has no resolution.
When I got to work I could tell that my friend was in a bad mood. Nobody in my department had bothered stocking cough drops or anything else by the registers so I started working on that figuring it didn't make much sense to have these things piled up on the shelves when the racks were bare. A slat wall prong was missing from register 2 so I grabbed one from register 4, the cashier on register 2 saw what I was doing and handed over the missing prong so I put back the one I had taken. When I asked if she could help stock cough drops if she notices empty prongs she said she just works there and I let the subject drop. One of the women who works in pricing came over, we had missed each other yesterday, but were able to connect today. She started telling me that she still doesn't know what is going on with her job. I had asked if she was going to be a permanent employee once the woman who is on maternity leave comes back, and she said she didn't know.
This morning she was wearing a bright colored fleece with an interesting shirt beneath it. We keep talking and I'm surprised she's volunteering so much since normally she is much more reserved. I learn that she would really like to stay at work, she doesn't consider being a cashier beneath her, her concern is that she will lose some of the skills she has and get stuck in a position where her skills aren't being utilized, and she could really use some money since she has a very large debt to pay off. She didn't say what it was, but later on she told me that her daughter had been in a terrible car accident and I wondered if medical bills were either part or the entirety of this debt. The experts her daughter has seen aren't totally sure what is going on with her exactly, but it sounds as if there is some central nervous system dysfunction which gives her a lot of trouble. This is the theory they have, and they don't have a lot of solutions as to what can be done to help.
This woman is very artistic, she showed me a drawing of a cat she had done using colored pencils, then she said that painting wouldn't take as much time and she could work faster and sell more pieces. As she's speaking I have a better understanding of how her mind works. She tells me about her last job where she worked for an independent pediatrician who specialized in helping disabled children, she thought this type of work would be very fulfilling, but people took advantage of her and she ended up leaving because she was so miserably unhappy she couldn't take it anymore. This is the type of woman I see all the time at work - very smart, extremely capable, she's doing a few things for herself, but she has such low self esteem that those who are predatory and manipulative pounce on her during an interview setting. It isn't the type of job she's applying for, bullies and victims go together like peanut butter and jelly.
While she's talking I'm mentally comparing her to someone else I know. I'm also thinking about my daughter Jane and how she thinks. Several people go by and she greets each of them. She tells me she needs to get back to work and I tell her that this is work. She needs someone to talk to or she wouldn't be sharing all of this very personal information with me. When I ask her what she needs she says nothing, she really believes this, but I know it isn't true. She needs emotional support. I tell her that I have a book up in my bag, she asks if I want her to go with me and I tell her I've got it, I remember the bag I stashed in my locker. I had put a small gift bag together for my unicorn friend, but I pulled out the things I had intended for her, this woman needs it more and I know my friend will understand. I stack bars of soap off to the side, one of them is significant, it feels heavier in my hand even though other bars are larger. I find a tube of hand cream and put that in the bag, it's not quite right, but the thought is what counts, she's not expecting anything.
She thanks me for the book and tells me she doesn't know when she'll have time to read it, I mention that if she's pressed for time she can read the five part plan and skip the rest. She's so overwhelmed I know that this feels like too much, I want to back off, but I think it's important to stay with her through this moment. We go back to the desk when she asks if she left her paperwork there. I don't remember her leaving anything there, but follow her anyways. We keep talking and she makes a very interesting comment. This is the moment I saw coming earlier. I mention that I have spent time at a psychiatric facility. She tells me she has too. Our eyes meet for a moment and way down in the quiet blue vortex I see through the eye of her storm. There's no hope, no beauty, no joy, no love for herself. I picture her as a tree that people rarely notice. During the summer they took the shade for granted, now the season has changed and she has no nutrients left in her root system. People think the tree is bare because it's winter. They're missing the larger picture, no forest, just a bunch of dying trees in varying stages of emotional turmoil and decay.
- "Hi Jessica, sorry I missed you yesterday."
- Her smile is warm and authentic, but her
- eyes don't match. Then I'm very confused.
- Everything is wrong, I hardly know her.
- It's cold, but I feel feverish, I'm chilled by
- the tone of her voice. I can hardly hear
- what she's saying, Paganini starts
- playing in my head, I see a note I
- wrote, the ink runs and I realize that
- the paper is bleeding.
- I need to get out of there, but I don't
- want to leave her alone. In an effort
- to read more of the books I own I've
- started carrying at least one with me
- at all times. My ankle hurts, but I tell
- her I'll be right back. When she asks
- if I want her to accompany me I shake
- my head slowly. I'm caught in a dream
- world, I'm back in the mental hospital
- but this time there are no professionals.
- I can't leave and I can't stay. I bring
- the book back, I pretend that Paganini
- is a recording and mentally hit stop.
- I'm searching through my playlist for
- something uplifting, the best of
- Rachmaninov begins and I'm once
- again reminded of how dark the music
- is, it's too complicated, the Christmas
- candy sitting out is surreal, where is
- the right music? Why is it avoiding me?
- The Jazz Album by Dmitri Shostakovich
- has a yellow teapot and a floating cup
- sitting in a fluted saucer. I don't really
- care for either of those, but the blue
- and orange around those objects is
- soothing. This music is better, I fancy
- that both of us are trapped images
- represented by the blocks of color,
- she's cool and blue, I'm a warmer
- orange. Is this crazy? I think so...
- My ear hurts, my throat is sore, I
- hear a bamboo flute playing as she
- tells me about her daughter being
- in the hospital, but feeling like she
- has to stay at work because they're
- short handed. Japanese folk music
- seems oddly appropriate. I see a
- tree with sparse red leaves, the
- tips of the branches are bare,
- it's cold, wet, gray, and black.
- We travel further into the forest
- together, dead leaves crunch into
- powder beneath our feet. More
- red, some orange, brown, twigs
- snap like splintering bones, the bark
- of the tree is rough and distressed.
- A leaf with holes in it quakes in the
- breeze, the walls at work have
- blended into this imaginary forest,
- we're becoming pieces of driftwood.
- I want the music to stop, the forest
- is unfamiliar, I'm supposed to be
- at work, not wandering around
- this wooded glade with a woman
- I hardly know. Rushing water
- reaches my ears, splashing against
- slippery smooth rocks. We hug,
- I fall, why won't this music stop?
- When we reach the lake I'm glad.
- Surface tension is so easily broken.
"I have learned, that to be with those who are like me, is dangerous." Jessica J
I was asked to write about A woman I know slightly for ReQuest 2018, I don't know if this qualifies, I thought about posting the poem separately, but this is how it unfolded. I have no idea how I made it through my work day. It was like my mind couldn't handle the real music that was playing so it had to come up with pieces that better suited the conversation. Romance probably seems like an unlikely topic today, but at times like this I picture having someone who will sit and listen to the sound of imaginary cherry blossoms floating through the air surrounding us. Most of what I view as romantic is, it's his voice, his touch, the way he makes me feel. Like I could share this type of thing with him and he would understand that it's important to me even if it doesn't make sense to him. It's slow, deliberate, it's okay to just be, to lie there, next to each other, nobody is making any demands on the other person, the playing field is level, there's a meeting of the minds and we both somehow know what the other person needs or wants, but it's also okay to be in our own worlds together.
- A bird lands on a branch,
- waiting patiently. Feathers ruffle
- and flatten. Nobody is hungry
- or thirsty, there are no phones here.
- It's him, me, & our pretend cherry tree.
- The space between us grows,
- we are cosmic beings until we
- begin shrinking. His hand touches
- mine and suddenly I know everything
- yet nothing. We are enough.
"I have learned that being loved, is more than enough."