Sun, 03/02/2014 - 20:10 -- olive64


If you were a kind of bread, you’d be sourdough
(or that gross sort of organic wheat with
all the chunks in it that everyone eats
because they think it’s good for them and
yet they always have to pile on six eggs, two slices
of bacon, and a boatload of jelly, and
toast the hell out of that thing before
it’s even remotely edible and do you see
where I’m going with this?)
and I’d be a hamburger bun or, better yet,
a pile of croutons sliced by your –
excuse the pun– cutting remarks.


You’ll say “you’re a disappointment”
and you’ll mean it‒ like you always do‒
and people will look appalled‒ like they
always do‒ when I relay the story to them
later on with a shrug of my shoulders and
a frankness they keep saying is far beyond
my years. In fact, I’ll probably be reconstructing
the looks on their faces for my therapist
ten years from now, but only after
I share with him or her my theory on how
your token unimpressed eyebrow raise
has led to twenty-seven years (and counting!)
of debilitating neurosis.


It’s funny how I can picture you reading
this, not thin-lipped and accusatory
like they’d imagine you to be, but vaguely amused,
that damn eyebrow raised at what you would
later term my pathetic attempt at an emotional
catharsis of my illusory childhood abuses.


“Ah yes, another fairytale in which I am the villain,”
you’d say in that same patronizing tone of voice
I’ve had the delight of imbibing since I was old
enough to realize how little you actually thought
of me, and you’d roll your eyes at my word choice
because ‘imbibing’ is unnecessarily overdramatic
and makes me sound even more like a whiny alcoholic
than I did at the beginning of this poem.


And who knows, maybe I am drunk? Maybe I downed
an entire bottle of tequila before writing this
(which I didn’t, of course, you know that)
and yet I feel a sort of giddiness I can only imagine
comes from the thrill of irresponsibility and one
too many strawberry margaritas. I am dizzy with it.
The entire room is spinning with the power
that’s pooling at my fingertips; my newfound,
wondrous ability to digitally stain this blank
white page with every slanderous remark you
threw my way, to tarnish your silver-plated exterior
with my own verbal oxidation, but for once in my life
I’ll exhibit some restraint. I’m not like you after all,
or, at least, I’m trying not to be. (But there’s the
whole nature vs. nurture debate and since my
childhood was a bit lacking from a nurture
standpoint, I’m left with the frankly terrifying notion
that I’ll always have 50% of you to carry around with me.)
So I’ll leave your self-esteem intact, keep my
thermostat just below scorching, focus instead on
the liberating sensation of this personal purge, a sort
of medieval bloodletting if you will, in which, drop by drop,
I rid my veins of the infection you injected, of the paralyzing
venomous snakebite that led me to this perpetual pursuit
of unattainable perfection.


(I’ve considered getting ‘Not Good Enough’ tattooed
on my forehead just so people know the real me
in advance, so that they’ll understand I’ve been
contractually obligated since childhood to
disappoint them, but that seems a little – oh what’s
the word – overdramatic, doesn’t it?)


But I will write, and I will live, and I will heal,
And I will always hold on to the dream that maybe,
one day, preferably a day when I’m thousands
of miles away doing something very important,
you’ll try to call me. And this will be a very special
call in which you intend on telling me something
that I’ve never heard before (I’m proud of you, honey,
so very, very proud) and I won’t pick up‒ maybe
because I’m too busy doing that important thing or
maybe because it’s you calling‒ but either way
I’ll let it go straight to voicemail and later when
I listen to it, I’ll probably hope for a split second,
vindictively, that it’s a recording of you crying and
whispering “I’m sorry” over and over again, so that
I can pretend that you’re just as damaged as I am,
that you feel like just as much of a disappointment as I did,
do, but like I said, I’m not you, still trying so very hard not to
be you, and I’ll listen to your voice, soft and
familiar from three thousand miles away,
telling me how much you miss me and will I be visiting
for Christmas and your brother is doing so well
in college‒ he says hello‒ and I’ll wait.


I’ll wait for the inevitable bullet point list of everything I’ve
ever done wrong since kindergarten, the concise
summation of my every shortcoming, the complete
“How to Be a Failure” collection: volumes one through twenty-
eight, but this time, for the first time, you’ll say goodbye,
I love you, call back as soon as you can, without uttering a
single criticism against me. And there will be no apology,
no admission of guilt, no promise that it will never happen
again. Just, one day, my successes and your successes won’t
be so tightly bound; yes, one day, I’ll carry my own weight,
my own worth, my own meaning, and you’ll detach yourself,
slowly, until the ball and chain that was fastened to my ankle
becomes a single gossamer thread, a spider web’s weight of
filmy white, and I will take a step on my own, and then ten,
and then a hundred and then a thousand, and finally I will
soar with the first gusts of freedom lifting up my patched wings.


But you will always be my lighthouse, my beacon,
a pale, sickly yellow or a brilliant gold, I will see your light
shining from oceans away and I will always know where
my home is, even if most days I cannot bring myself to
return. And I’d like to think that in the end your love for
me will exist in three parts:


Part 1: where I am a baby and I am loved unconditionally.
Part 2: where I didn’t agree to the terms & conditions, but
they apparently applied anyway, and
Part 3: where you realize that I was a pretty great kid all along;
that I wasn’t you, but I made a damn good effort trying to be,
until I figured out that I’d much rather be myself instead.


And that, that will be enough. 


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