trapeze (from my memoir whitegirrrl) short chapter

On the seventh day of Christmas it is impossible to fake that you are happy.

You look back at the past for clues about who you were once.  Photographs tell you.  Photographs that open windows onto worlds that you lived in before his arrival.

Before he started to make all the rules about how things were supposed to go.  About how you were going to live your life.

According to his rules.

For a long time you tried this.

You swing this morning between thoughts on a trapeze in the cold winter light of Christmas that is to arrive in the rush of holidays stacked one upon the other.

Did the two of you actually ever love each other?

You can’t even remember.

What you know is that you don’t anymore.

There is nothing holding you.

There are no responsibilities to anyone anymore except yourself.

There is a box of ornaments to be unpacked, but this is a season of non-joy.

You try and remember the last time there was any joy here and you can’t.  He makes it non-joyfilled.  He isn’t capable of that emotion.  This is what it is like when people start to make lists about leaving.  They have to add it up.  Each thing a negative.  Each year a negative.

The small temporary laughter you think you can pull off, making lists.

There is a new ornament to reach for.  A feminine ornament.  It’s pink, and everything about it says girl in capital letters.  It will be a long time before you need or trust one of them again.  Every single one lied.

There was the baby you wanted.  He didn’t.

There was the traveling.

He didn’t want to go.

There was the dancing.

He only liked sad music.

There was the bedroom.

There was the house.

There was the room for the child.

“I never saw myself as a grandmother,” she says, looking at you fiercely. She means it, and this is something you have to absorb slowly like a bitter pill.  Your mother never had any intention of helping you.  She wasn’t going to be anything like your grandmother was.

“You made your bed, and now you have to lie in it,” she says.

His mother is even worse than yours.  Meaner.

Christmas looms in the season of your discontent.  There are regions where there are hearths glowing.  There are other lands full of happy faces and cookies and twinkling lights and danceable music that can be as loud as it needs to be.

The day you are supposed to get the tree you realize you can’t fake it anymore.  You can’t fake feelings when there might not be any.  You can’t fake sugarplums and batches of cookies and glimmerlights and you can’t put on a happy face for friends, either.


It’s about the trapeze where you think you swing happily, or that you will be happy ever after because that is the promise that was supposed to come with the bright bouquet you were tossed.  But there are no safety nets.

The past is a chasm you swing over, like some kind of pendulum.  Back and forth you sway.  Back and forth and back and forth and forth and back over old ground.

It’s later that you realize he only cared about his own empire and not you.

Jimbo is the only one who can see.  He watches you dangling in mid-air and he tries to tell you that there will be something on the other side that is worth reaching for.

You applaud him for managing it himself.

“It got to the point where she had me doubting myself,” he says.  “I really did.”

“I had to take my life back.”

He has gone to live in the land of the last Joshua Trees, where the shadows dance along the desert sand and the air is clear and breathable and some remnant of the 1950’s expectations of how the world was supposed to run still exist.

You visited once.  One of those times you were running so fast you were almost flying.

“Jimbo, how did this happen to us?” you wanted to ask.

Or maybe you did ask it, just softly.

There were these illusions the two of you had setting forth.


trapeze ~ copyright 2010 ~ Valentine Bonnaire ~ all rights reserved.

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