Lost and Found: Belonging

There’s a lost and found section in the library where we hold people’s stuff for a while before sending them all down to where the lost and found is for the entire campus. We get a lot of different things from people and sometimes I wonder if they’re not important to them. Drivers’ licenses, certificates, passports, other photo IDs, jackets and sweaters, keys, flash drives, homework, water bottles, lunch bags, phones, umbrellas. Oh, and one time I found a bag of money on the floor beside a chair.

These are important items in my opinion. IDs are of course necessary and should always be kept with care. I live in New England, so jackets and sweaters are a definite necessity. People need their keys for their cars and homes, and they need their homework too – unless they don’t mind redoing it. Water bottles, lunch bags, and umbrellas I guess are easily replaceable, but who has the time? And in this day and age, especially in this part of the world, who can live without a phone? Which college student at least? Don’t even ask me about that bag of money. I’m just sorry for whoever it is that lost it.

Sometimes the owner of these things come back for them, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes people come and ask if their possessions were perhaps found and turned in, but we don’t have anything for them. People lose things a lot. Me too. But I guess things aren’t really that important. It’s okay to lose them sometimes. However, it’s good if they can stay where they belong, or with whom they belong. At least, they’re inanimate, so they don’t have to worry about belonging somewhere. And if they’re not where they belong, then they won’t know, and it won’t affect them.

People, on the other hand, well me, can feel when they’re not where they belong. Not that they can tell where they do belong, but they know when they’re somewhere they don’t belong, or don’t want to belong. I guess when I was little I belonged to my parents. Then I gave myself to God in high school and belonged to Him for a while. Now I’m in a new country and, though some time has passed, I still think I’d feel better in my old one. It turns out building relationships isn’t something I’m good at doing. It’s lonely up here.

I’ve asked God several times why He made me come here. Of course, I haven’t gotten an answer. At first I thought it was to bring Christian light to those around me, but seeing as I’ve lost that light, I don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to do now. Not that anything I did was working when I did try to spread light. I’ve long given up on that. If I’ve learned anything in the past few years it’s that I can’t change people. Therefore, I have stopped trying.

I’ve decided to distance myself from people. It’s really easy to do that here. I don’t have to think about running into someone unpleasant, and when people ask how I am I don’t even have to answer. As a college student, I still don’t fit into any group with my peers, the same way it’s always been since I started grade school. I remember once in the sixth grade I saw a billboard with some women on it. I don’t remember what it was about, but I was standing on the sidewalk, looking up at the women’s faces and thinking that I was going to be alone even when I got to their age. I told my best friend then, and she said that wasn’t true. That memory came to me the other day, and I wondered what would make a sixth grade girl think that. Why did I, at that age, think that I was going to be alone for most, if not all, of my life? And why do I still feel the same way ten years later?

It’s because I don’t feel like I belong where I am. I don’t fit in, and I feel out of place. I have fun with those I’m around, but I’m hurt by them at the same time, and I don’t know how to deal with that. I don’t know where to hide. I can only put up with it. I hope I’m not waiting for someone to appear and take me away (though I’d love to go off to Spain with someone resembling Antonio Banderas). I guess in terms of religion, or the church, I was lost to sin before I found God. But the God I found isn’t the one I want, so now I’m lost again. Belonging? Nowhere. I belong nowhere.

 

 

This is the final part of a three-part series. See parts one and two here.

Discoveries: Seeing with Age

It turns out my father isn’t a perfect man, and there are some things he doesn’t know. He is also capable of crying.

People do grow old and die, and cancer can affect even people that are close to me; people like my grandfather, and my uncle’s godfather, whom I called godfather too.

Everyone who smiles at you isn’t your friend. Mean people are numerous in this world.

Family isn’t always family. Love can have an end.

Mommy and daddy had to do actual work to send us to school and feed us. And when they said they didn’t have any money, they really didn’t. Bills are things they had to pay so that we could stay in the house.

People forget each other. They just do. It happens when you haven’t seen someone in a long time.

We don’t all get to stay together. We each have our own lives, and they take us to different places.

Money is something that you need, but you can never keep it for too long.

Africa is not the only place with starving children.

Adults can hurt you on purpose too.

 

 

This is the second of a three-part series. See parts one and three here.

 

“You’re Wrong Bitch” – Messages from the Bible

Ecclesiastes is a nice book. I listened to it several times once and then went around saying “all is vanity!” I thought that was funny. I thought it was true. Everything will soon die or degenerate in some way, and there is nothing we can do about that.

I was working in the stacks (where the books in the library are) the other day and two girls were sitting at a small table. They were right behind me and they were speaking softly, but I could hear everything they were saying. My interest peaked when I heard one girl say that she doesn’t think she’s going to start thinking about God until something bad happens to her. The other girl joined in on the “something bad” part. I thought that was interesting. A lot of people think like that. A lot of people are like that.

The first girl mentioned a picture a friend posted on a social site. A verse from Ecclesiastes was in it. The one that says we should praise the Lord in our youth and not wait until we’re old and have no more pleasure in life. I remembered that verse. The elders in the church used it a lot to talk to the young people. The first girl kept talking. She said she was thinking of living her life the way she wanted to because it was hers and she was young. But then that verse was like, “you’re wrong bitch”. The second girl laughed, “I don’t think that’s what the Bible said.”

 

Loss: Grandma

I was wearing my shrunken plaid pajama bottoms. The top had long been donated; the damage done by the dryer was too severe. Instead of that I was wearing an off-white mariner (that’s what we call them in Jamaica, here I believe they are called vests), also shrunken. I was getting ready for bed.

I had spoken to my mother on the phone earlier. Some not so good things were going on in the family. I wasn’t happy about that. Of course she wasn’t either, but she said she wasn’t going to let it her stress her out. I was with her on that. I don’t like my mother being stressed. Bearing and raising my sister and I was stress enough.

Room empty. Fresh scent. Cool air. I check my phone. Missed calls and a message. It’s from my mother; “…mamma just died”. Silence. In my head. Complete silence. As still as the dead. I don’t believe it. I really don’t. It doesn’t make sense. My cousin in Florida calls. She asks if I heard. Her mother was on the bed with Mama when she died. That does something to someone; to have someone, your own mother, die right beside you. My cousin sounds sad. I think she’s worried about her mother. I am too, but this means Mama is dead. Really dead. I start crying before we hang up.

I walk back to my room from the window in the basement where I went for better reception. Something’s different. It felt something like one of those blue scenes from Dark Oracle. The air about me was different. It was quiet. It was still. My body on the inside was still too, and a little bit tight. Like everything in there moved a bit closer together.

Once I get inside it’s all coming out. I can’t believe it. It can’t be real. But I know it is. I had seen her about three months before when my sister and I had visited during the summer. She didn’t recognize us at first. And she forgot us after we left. We had only been in America for two years. She should still have remembered us. She didn’t. She had lost weight too. A lot of it. I had never known my grandmother to be a slim woman. She still wasn’t slim then, but man had she drawn down. And she was wearing a diaper. My grown grandmother, who had borne seven children, was wearing a diaper. She needed it changed for her. She needed help to eat and drink, and shower. She couldn’t open her mouth widely to talk. She could barely lift up her hands up when she gesticulated. This wasn’t my grandmother. I knew it the minute I saw her. This wasn’t my grandmother.

But there it was. The message from my mother. The phone call from my cousin. It was her. And she was gone. I bawled like a cow. I couldn’t believe it. But I had to, because I knew it was true. My grandmother had died. The one I was closest to. The one whose bed I had slept in. The one who had put a french bun in my hair. The one who had made me an egg for breakfast. The one who had blended oranges and aloe vera for my sinuses. She was gone. Dead. And I was in a room alone taking it all in.

I had gone upstairs to find my father but he was in the bathroom. I went again. He was just coming out from taking a shower. I couldn’t talk because of how hard I was crying. I showed him the phone. The message on the phone. He kept asking me what was wrong. But I couldn’t tell him. I couldn’t say anything. I showed him the phone. He couldn’t see it. He didn’t have his glasses. I told him to look at it. He told me to calm down. I went back to my room.

This was too much. Why? I was talking to God now. Why her? Why now? She was the one I loved the most. She was the one who called me by a nickname, that only she used, whenever she saw me. Hadn’t I asked You not to take her? Hadn’t I been worried about it and wanting it not to happen? And You still did it? You made her die? Why? Why? I had asked you not to. I bawled like crazy saying stuff like that in my head whenever I could get it through.

My father came in. He put my phone down on the bed and sat down looking at me. He told me I had to calm down. I told him what I was telling God. I had asked Him not to take her. I had actually prayed and asked Him to let her live and now I hear that my grandmother is dead. Why? I asked Him not to. My poor father must have been worried as hell. I had never cried in front of him like that before. I don’t think he knew what to do. He kept telling me to calm down. It was a part of life he said. But I knew that.

I knew that…

 

 

This is the first of a three-part series. See parts two and three here.

 

My Mother’s Yellow Lap

Her shirt is yellow. It’s the long one with the sleeves cut off. I think she said it belonged to her brother. She’s really short so she wears it like a dress. She’s sitting on my bed. The sheets are plaid, green. I don’t know why, not exactly why, but I lie down and rest my head on her lap. I turn my face towards her belly. It’s comfortable, and I cry there. I place my right arm around her and hold her. I know she’ll try to move me so she can look at my face. I don’t want her to. I hold her tightly.

She calls my name. She’s worried. I can hear it in her voice. My face is all wet now. My body is jerking. I’m not hiding the fact that I’m crying anymore. Doesn’t make any sense. She already knows. She keeps calling my name, trying to move me away from her, trying to look at me. She’s asking me what’s wrong. She’s really worried. What’s wrong with her baby? I just hold her. I don’t want to move. I just want to stay there and cry in my mother’s lap. She just wants to know what’s wrong.

I don’t say anything, but in my head I tell her to let me be. Just let me cry on you. Don’t ask me anything. I’m not even sure myself. Right now I need to cry, and I want to do it here. This is comfortable. Don’t worry too much. Just let me cry.

Finally I give up, because she won’t. She won’t stop calling me and trying to look at my face. She won’t stop asking me what’s wrong. She won’t stop worrying. I give up. I let her go. She’s always been strong. I can’t hold on to her any longer because she keeps pulling me. I let go, and I get up. I wipe my face. She’s still worried. She asks what’s wrong. She calls my name. I shake my head. It’s nothing. She asks what’s wrong. I shake my head again. We keep doing that. She asks what’s wrong. I shake my head. I don’t remember what I said to her to make her stop. I get up, and I go to the bathroom. I rinse my face.

The above is a memory from high school. I’d like to go back there. To that bed. To that house. To that country. To that woman. To her lap. To her arms. If I could, I’d go back, or not back, but there. I’d go there, but without the crying this time.

 

Free writing. Not really free since the community of words that exist inside my being never all make it out alive. I think, then I have a desire to speak, I go about speaking what is on my mind, but my mind never stops. It doesn’t wait for my hands, or pen and paper, or the keys on a keyboard, for a webpage to load. It just keeps going. And so my original thought is lost in a stampede of thoughts that were never there before and I am surprised at how suddenly they came about and how quickly they rushed forward; how they were able to overtake the one that started it all. The one that started it all… God… Me… Not me. Not that way. That’s another thing. My mind sometimes goes places I don’t want it to. And I don’t understand this. Since it is a part of me, how can it not be aware of the places that I don’t want to visit, that I don’t want to remember? Why does it constantly stumble upon, or run towards, places, corners, and alleys that I’m scared of, that hurt me before, that I don’t want to be reminded of? Why does it not understand that I need time, a lot of time, to recover from what happened there, and there; from all the things that happened in all those places? See sometimes it likes to pretend it’s a psychologist. Those darned movies. Where else would it get all those ideas from? Oh what happened in your childhood? It all goes back to there. How was your relationship with your father? Your mother? Were you a happy child? Did anything happen in your childhood that may have caused your like or dislike for this particular thing? Crap crap crap blah blah blah and it goes on. One time I caught it analyzing me in the bathroom at church. In the bathroom! I shook my head, snapped out of it, and went inside. Why does it do that? I hate when it’s right before bed. I need to sleep, but it wants to ask questions about the future and the present and how I feel. No. I want to sleep. I need to wake up tomorrow. Wish to God that was optional. It’s most alive in my bedroom. No one bothers it there, that’s probably why. It’s big and proud, though I don’t know why. It’s not like it has a degree in anything. It only knows whatever it knows because of all those movies it watched as I was growing up. What did you see when you were little? You must have seen something to make you do this now. I did see something, but I wasn’t that little. It was so long ago anyway. But I have heard stories of people and long ago, and now. They couldn’t have all been lies. Maybe my long ago does have something to do with my now. But it was so long ago. … I just glanced at the time twice after trying hard not to. I’m supposed to do this for twenty minutes; free writing. Not sure how free this is though since I’ve been on that backspace key like yellow on mac and cheese. I like that simile there. I was going to use white on rice first but that’s kind of old. I think I made this one up but I may have heard it somewhere before. There are things like that. Things you aren’t sure if they came from you or if you just heard or saw them somewhere before but forgot when and where. Things like that. I looked again. Time’s almost up. I’m like this with time. I always check to see when it will run out. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could do that with our lives? Check to see when it would end so we could do what we wanted to before then? I think that would be nice. I have a bucket list but I’m not sure I’ll ever do anything that’s on it. It would be nice if I was able to do just one. Only one. That would be really nice. Really nice. Timer go off already! I have less than two minutes. Why does time always go slowly when you’re waiting for it. It’s like a woman getting dressed – or so I hear. I can get dressed in two or three minutes if I already know what I’m wearing. Shopping. Yeah that’s it. It’s like a woman who’s shopping. Takes forever. Last few seconds and I’m listening to The Script. I like them. Oh! Time’s up. It was nice talking to you. :)     P.S. Is this free writing if it was edited? I proofread it and corrected a few things.