When someone comes to mind, let them in!

26 Jan

When someone comes to mind, let them in; sit with them.  Try to understand why they have appeared.  Pay attention to the way you feel.  Get out a pencil.  Make a series of dots from the message in  your brain, to the face in  your mirror.  Connect them, and let them live.

Lately I’ve been thinking about a girl from high school.  It happens from time to time, I think about her; she’s like a left over shadow from the past, tugging at my sleeve, not letting go.  Joyce and I were never friends, and I can’t recall if she had any, but surely, she did.  I must have been too busy trying to be cute to notice; I must have been too bored by lunch when she would enter the cafeteria seemingly without moving her feet, but gliding on a cushion of air, her water-blue-liquid eyes searching for an empty chair.

She made me uncomfortable because she made me aware.  It was as if she moved in slow motion, her hands so deliberate I ached to reach across the desk that separated us in English, and slap them silly, make them hustle, respond, claim a larger, stronger place in the space she filled; but of course, I did nothing.

Joyce moved too slowly to finish class assignments.  She didn’t look like the average dumb kid; there was a certain air about her, an innocence, really.  I don’t know why, but each time I see her in my mind’s eye, she is wearing a blue dress with a white Peter Pan collar, with pearl seed buttons splitting her chest in two equal planes with budding breasts, breasts the size of a girl in the seventh grade, not a senior ready to burst apart the world with her bare hands.  No, Joyce’s hands weren’t strong enough, and too white, to burst anything apart.  And she was too slow, like molasses pushing up the trunk of a tree, trying to reach the tiny, green leaves on the top branches, but pooling instead, close to the place where the roots disappear, deep in dark earth.

I remember watching Joyce write on a clean piece of notebook paper; it was like watching someone complete a ritual or say a prayer.  With her left hand, she smoothed the length of the paper as if checking its surface for dust or palpable imperfections.  After she’d satisfied herself that nothing was there, no inhibitors to the strength of imagination, no deterrents to concise, clear thought or written language, she ceremoniously placed her left hand on the outermost portion of the upper left side of the page, and deliberately, as if getting ready to draw one perfect note, placed the tip of her Lindy Pen on the first blank line on the blank page.  Each letter she formed was a labor of art or love, or perhaps the act of a blind woman climbing Mt. Everest, unsure of each step, but pushing ever so cautiously ahead.

There was part of me that could relate to this strange girl, like a seed pushing out of its pod, sprouting new growth but on top of the ground, roots, never forming.  And tiny leaves unfurling, stretching skyward in search of solid ground, not realizing it was reaching in the wrong direction, not understanding that one is born with his roots in the ground, or one is not; not recognizing that one can walk, at the end of his life, through a cemetery recalling aloud the history of his clan, or one can be cremated, set loose in the wind because he never found his place in the soil of the earth.

Joyce and I shared the same mirror, one moving slowly, the other rushing; both trying to fit in.  The day the principal interrupted fifth period to announce Joyce’s death in the same voice he used to announce pep rallies and bake sales, the pit of my stomach rose to the back of my throat.  He said Joyce died in a car wreck, and he told us he knew we would miss her, and that we should all be very careful driving home that afternoon.  His words were secret code; every girl in the room caught the gaze of every other, and soon we were nodding in unison.  The boys never caught on, except perhaps the one whose sweet words  had left Joyce so few options.

Several times a year, we’d lose a friend to the nightmare of a Home for Unmarried Pregnant Girls where keeping your child was unheard of.  The shame and humiliation, the double standard razor wire, was simply too much for some girls.  Losing our chance for an education made an already impossible situation even worse.  So while boys got a nod for sowing wild oats, girls were sent packing in shame, our lives interrupted forever…because who ever really recovers from such a thing?

Joyce, the deliberate, pale girl who was not my friend has come to my mind again today, reminding me why it is important to remember her name, and her story.  Joyce is the cross burning in all of our yards, screaming for justice that never came, not in her life, and perhaps, not even in mine. Time is turning in on itself; already women in several states have lost control over decisions concerning the healthcare of their own bodies, in spite of battles previously won to ensure such choices are kept personal.  Zealots are pointing angry fingers in our faces.  State Congresses are punishing us with unnecessary invasive procedures for making choices that do not align properly with religious ideology.  And politicians are opening the car doors for Joyces’ all over the United States, handing them the keys.

Part of me hates that Joyce is visiting again; but I suppose she feels quite strong about what’s happening these days.  So I’ll sit with her for a little while, and share her story with you.


12 Responses to “When someone comes to mind, let them in!”

  1. Billie January 27, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    Love this!!!

    • ittymac January 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

      Thanks, Billie. It was a heavy topic to open with, but Joyce just wouldn’t be ignored!

  2. Gypsy January 31, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    I don’t remember these choices. I remember one of our HS cheerleaders got pregnant and went away, but abortion was legal. Shame was still there for me and an unmarried pregnant woman would lose her job or business. Now women seem to have many options and much less shame if any for being human and wanting sex as much as men. I think This is a great thing. But those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. I still fight this fight. Ex. People want to adopt and they have to go to foreign countries because of legal abortion. My answer: Great! Children shouldn’t have to sit around in orphanages longing for parental love so that adoptive parents can come by at their leisure and have a nice selection of newborns to choose from, as if they were “pret-a-porter” instead of individually tailored commodities. No one has had a great response to that. Then there is the ever present men can’t find wives to take care of them, because women don’t have to marry to have children… Response: So these bastard men who are so unloveable that no woman will marry them want women forced by hunger, lack of a viable job and desire for children to spend their lives taking care of and having sex with a man they do not love, and perhaps loathe? That would be a better situation in your eyes? Men our age who grew up assuming that women would be desperate to marry them and care for them in return for a comfy living have a very hard time adjusting to the fact that women are not commodities, either. But these men have a lobby and have politicians at their disposal, these “men’s rights” advocates. These men who believe rape is just another way of conceiving, a gift from God, despite their assertion that women don’t get pregnat from legitimate rape because the mysterious and unfathomable womans stuff down their just shuts off. If so, why then would you need the gift from God, alternate impregnation argument. One bit of their logic negates the need for the other, so it is clear that their position IS illogical, and that even THEY don’t believe it. But the pulpits across the nation are screaming and passing out photos of partial birth abortions, as if that technique were EVER legal in the US (it wasn’t) except in case of the life of the mother. I often ask people if they would agree to compromise their anti-abortion stance if some compromise could be reached, ie not past viability outside the womb? Mostly they agree, and are surprised to hear that that was EXACTLY the holding in “Roe,” and upheld again with viability determined at about five months, in “Casey,” so Merry Christmas-wish granted. That is how the law was this entire time-you have been misled. Again, another stow-stopping argument. Case closed, next case please…

  3. Tammy February 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

    That was just brilliantly written.

    • ittymac February 5, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      That you, Tammy. I deeply respect your opinion.

    • ittymac March 18, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

      You are so kind. Thank you.

  4. K.M. OSullivan February 5, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    New reader sent by Tammy of Worlds Worst Moms.

    This was a lovely piece of writing. I found myself rereading it, slowing my pace each time. I wanted to give Joyce my full attention and appreciation.

    • ittymac February 5, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

      Thank you so much for reading Joyce’s story.

  5. RogueGirl August 13, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    Ittymac, you suggested I may enjoy this other blog of yours and I thought, to do it justice, I needed to start at the beginning.

    Gracious. Your words, your skillful writing; I am gobsmacked (in the best possible way of course). Thank you for suggesting I see another side to you. I am truly blessed to have come across first your wit and now this.

    • ittymac August 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

      Thank you so much. Your words touch my heart. 🌻

  6. 2ndhalfolife December 16, 2014 at 7:06 pm #


    • ittymac December 16, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

      Odd, isn’t it, that we learn do much from people we never truly know.

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