[[This is a sample chapter from a much longer piece. It reflects where I was in my 20’s. Does it resonate with you?]]
The Winds From Behind
If I may be allowed to write
in this box
made of pyrite, mine.
on my world
from my foot prints,
the ones I’m standing on
that you haven’t seen yet.
If I may be given the room to hear my own breath, permission to speak for myself, in this little box, for this little period of time. I know who I am and I have tested my perceptions of the outer world. I know the people I have known, I am not thick and my reality must have some sort of stamp on it to make me pass through to the place where we are all happy, all of the time. My little box is black with light tight corners. It will draw a spark if you run a match across it’s surface. It holds a podium made for me to speak about my views. I stand on my podium and scream, not to be bigger than everyone else, but to be heard. I don’t see anyone in the corners (of course not, there is no light) but I don’t think there would be much room for anyone but me. I think I am alone, but I know someone must be listening. I couldn’t possibly be alone. It has to be dark so I don’t forget what I would say. It has to be vice tight, or the monsters may come in and confuse my thoughts. They will tell me I’m stupid and I will forget that I’m not.
Sometimes I feel my power rush out to growl and spit like the warriorress that I am. I am Isis from Egypt. I am ready, hardened, cut-throat, righteous, shining. I have things to say. I am called to be the Defender-the battles make me spice. When I am setting things right, I am the Hindu Kali in her Destroyer form, come up from the underworld, my anger and quick wit flashing down lightning to strike the earth where the liars lie. I do not think or choose, I channel, and the Goddess speaks through me. I feel her hot scorch, and scowls run through my body.
I must not be alone. I must not be unusual, in facing against the world’s desire to follow rules of greed instead of love. This is not a dead concept. I move, claim my ground, bare my wrath, but when I come to, there is the black box, where I beg permission to speak-or if not, to sleep. There are forces out there that don’t get represented on those big screens. I know it. I don’t hear about them through the wreck of clashing network amplitudes. I must shout or no one may hear me. I am alone! I can’t be alone! I must not be! I must not be!
I am an East-Coaster, from the North American, the post-baby-boomer generation. That means after the institution of the traditional marriage began to breakdown, after sexual taboos were broken, illegal drugs became commonplace and women were given the validation to breathe as unique, intelligent individuals. People in my generation (and younger) are extremely sophisticated compared to our parents at the same age. We have traveled more, lived in more places, move often and with light speed. We started having sex at a younger age, have tried more drugs and have permanently lost our innocence. Unlike any generation before us, we developed our personalities to the backdrop of an incessant seductive barrage of the mass media. We are more independently minded than our parents, as a principal, yet our minds are twisted up in wires. We always have an ear for environmental corporate discharge.
My heritage is one of brokenness. Broken English, broken culture, broken hearts and most profoundly, broken families. The baby boomers like to think of us as slackers. They sit in their living rooms over their gin and tonics and call us spoiled, unmotivated, money-driven and of having no unique generational identity, They wonder why there is no easy stamp to identify us with. I find this banal sort of decision-making from people who are supposed to be older and wiser than us insulting. Nine hundred and ninety-nine out of a thousand people I have met who are near my age come from parents that split up or are so terribly married, they should have split up years ago. Many of us carry inside ourselves the most intimate affect of the revolution of the sixties, the kitchen wars. We remember dinner table skirmishes that resulted because of words like freethinker, chauvinist pig and equal rights. Unlike the centuries of sitting room hostilities before us, what we lived through was signaling the end to the most fundamental system known to humanity, the family. With the loss of family came a disintegration of commonplace honesty, earnestness, trusting the stranger, the warmth of community. Truth worked like a knife, and still does inside of those of us who struggle to not repeat the past. We are skilled at finding flaws in other people’s relationships and easy to fall into emotional landmines of our own. Many of us have disassociated from our families, unable to maintain bonds with what our current society has taught us is dysfunctional. We want better and we’ve been told we can get it. Actually, we’ve been told that if we’re smart enough, work hard enough, we can get anything we want.
The societal level of denial around who we are because of these experiences, angers me. We desire to have the kind of loving, power-sharing relationships the self-help books say is possible, but we have no role models or context in which to frame it. When we try, we run into the patterns of our parents’, pulling us into an undertow of conflict, covered with a thick impermeable atmosphere of denial. Some of us have given up, choosing to be alone rather than risk regression. Some of us have made it, shored up an island with a friend or lover. Some of us have “settled”, deciding that the jagged comfort of almost being there is more than enough to ask for.
I am shouting. This is what is in me. I love these explosions of aftermath, these scars which allowed women to vote, put a name on alcoholism, brought the therapeutic relationship into social acceptability, started affirmative action, sent my parents in their separate directions. Our generation has been gifted with the collective dream of peace at home, where things are spoken out loud and listening to the souls of the ones we love-including ourselves-is a skill learned from birth. This dream, which can shine in warmth and guidance or beat down with oppressive idealism has become my life. I am thankful for it because it is so much more than what my folks had when they had their lives before them, but I am still shouting. We are the children of the repercussions of the sixties. The broken cradle that was thrown out was ours. As our parent’s children, a weight is put upon us to do better. We want to do better. They look to us with this dream and wish it upon us, but we don’t even know who we are.