Tag Archives: Fear

The Power of Two Realities

20140314-132717.jpgOne particular night, I lay writhing in pain and in fear of the baby in my belly. It seemed to have “slipped” into a position that I knew was wrong, as if a stiff brick were lodged in my right side. It felt foreign, unconnected to my body, like an object wedged between thick layers of skin, and in a way it was foreign. It was my sister’s baby, not my own. You see, she couldn’t carry a baby and since I could, or thought I could, I did what any sister would do given the situation.

So there I lay, with this stiff brick-baby in the wrong part of my belly, writhing and fearful. I cried and cried. My pain wasn’t taken seriously, not by doctors, not by anyone. Maybe it wasn’t painful enough. I wondered how high the pain would escalate before someone would intervene.

On cold nights, I find refuge in my guest bedroom where I share a small bed, symbiotically, with my giant bulldog. He loves the company, I love to be warm. We begin in a sweet cuddle, his body curled and his heavy head resting sincerely in the crook of my legs. Within minutes he snores like an old drunken sailor and sprawls across the bed with his nethers far too close for comfort. Too big to move, I endure, for the sake of warmth.

On this particular night, when I lay writhing and fearful, crying and crying, I woke to the feeling of two giant bulldog legs lodged into my right side. They were kicking and running in their sleep, kicking and running into my belly.

The absurdity, the relief, the questions…

The kicking didn’t hurt, but in my dream, it produced anguish, fear, physical pain, disconnect, desperation. A physical outside force entered my body and caused it harm. I let my sister down, I failed, my physical body was incapable, I was desperately alone, yet, when in a split second those deep emotions were replaced with the sweet, sweet touch of a bulldog’s paw. He finished his run, stretched, and snored away like an old, drunken sailor. I lay there wondering how such a simple paw could do so much. I wondered if anything is really as bad, or as good, as it seems.

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Does Everything Become Ordinary?

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I am consumed by the question, “Why do we tire of things?”  We tire of music, however shocking and original it was.  We tire of people who were once the brightness in our day.    Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring will never produce another riot.  A mini skirt lost the ability to offend.  We don’t notice art after being subject to a masterpiece for any length of time, even a terrifying Calder.

Alexander Calder painted a seven-legged dog with furious red teeth and eyes.  When I first positioned this animal adjacent to my couch, I had trouble sitting still.  While trying intently to read a page or nap in the sunlight, my eyes were pulled in the direction of this primary-colored dog. Always conscious of it, terribly afraid of it, I ended up abandoning the living room and took my reading and napping to the tiniest room in my apartment which, not coincidentally, was the farthest room from the Calder beast.  To avoid crossing its path, I began exiting my apartment through the back door, just in case.  Just in case of what I’m not sure, but since I’m incredibly reasonable, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Arriving home was a different story.  I’d carelessly bounce up the flight of stairs, let the door fly open, flick on the light, remove my coat and shoes, walk thoughtlessly halfway into the living room preoccupied by this or that, and stop dead in my tracks.  There it was.  The sneak attack.  That damn primary-colored snarling animal floating on my wall.  This happened for weeks, until I outsmarted it.  I learned to leave a nightlight on, to peek around the corner before disarming myself of my coat and shoes, just in case.  Just in case of what, I still wasn’t sure.

Gradually, its pounce began losing its punch.  I began exiting through the front door without fear, arriving home without a nightlight.  I napped deeply on the couch after particularly tiresome days, waking without fear.

I’ve since moved, and the Calder dog followed me.  There it hangs in my living room where I nap without hesitation.  I go days without noticing it.  Somehow, its teeth are not so sharp anymore, its eyes with earthly depth, its primal nature quelled.  I miss the terror I once felt of this now tamed creature.  I miss the mystery of such few colors and crude shapes.  I miss the ridiculousness of avoiding the beast.  It was exciting and new and unpredictable then, and because of this, I ask, does everything inevitably become ordinary?