It was the fear of returning, returning to the narrow, pale Dickensian chins, colorless competition with glazed blue eyes looking beyond and through her; the easing of their shapeless forms against cold leather chairs, pushing corporate words over, around and past her. The routine movements stretched and splattered, extending like a silent scream over the red and blue oriental rugs, over the Pollack and O’Keefe paintings on the wall, and over the bent, silent heads of the women: typing.
She had tried for years to be like the rest, tried to stuff the voice down that rose up, the “No” in her like the “No” of a Rosa Parks too tired to go to the back of the bus.
The “No” and the “Where am I going/” came out, like squabbling twins pushing their way to grab the front seat of the car, laughing, kicking, screaming towards the local drug store to see who got the Mars Bar first.
So now, the “No” had been handled and the “Where am I going?” was just sassing the hell out of her.
Where the “No” had been red and angry, volatile, insistent, the “Where am I going?” was tired, blue, fatigued, a dream gone poof, no white puffs to its sides, only wilted question marks about myths, and she could feel the underbelly of poverty, a shadow in the future. She was hesitating now, a question mark between things, wordless within worlds. She wondered about things: the career change, opinions of others and their queries, “Why can’t you adjust?” and she bludgeoned herself for her restlessness.
But she couldn’t go back, back to the inside of the gray—the gray that would convenience others, the gray that never questioned…the gray that cried inside against its seamless, eternal tediousness.
“Spit Decision” is an excerpt from You Carry the Heavy Stuff, which is available at Lulu and Amazon, and directly from the author for $14.95 plus postage. Esther may be contacted via email: estherbill(at)gmail.com.
I teach four six-week classes on writing. My background training is from Oakley Hall, who was majestic novelist and teacher and co-director of Squaw Valley Workshop, and also from Jack Grapes, whose name is whistled in freeway corridors like a slick wind, a pied piper of a writing teacher. Both of these men earn my verbal praise every day. I have traveled from Moscow to Siberia, and to Ukraine, and then returned with my husband to live in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, and Minsk, Belarus. I studied writing methods at UCIrvine, and also took several courses under a superb journalist, Joe Bell.
I teach a class on Tuesdays at The Women’s Room, a place that leaps with great words and giant hearts. The women are either volunteers, homeless or in transition, and it is a great place of support.
On Monday nights, I teach in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages, near California and Lake, from 4:30-6 p.m., for donation. That, plus a few on-line gigs and tutoring gig, plus Baha’i activities and commitment to racial justice, keeps me busy. I have a novel in the second draft process.
Esther has written two books, Without a Net: A Sojourn in Russia and You Carry the Heavy Stuff. Her blog can be found at SorryGnat.wordpress.com.