I guess it happened because I was told not to do it. Maybe it happened because you told me it was a bad idea. It could’ve even been the moment you looked at me and I saw the green in your blue eyes. All I know, is that I see that you are lost and it hurts me inside. I’ve seen the precious moment where you show your kids just how much they mean to you. All of these things add up to me loving you. And I am still falling for you every day.
My neighbor is a beautiful man. He was born and raised where surfing was rite of passage. He is the picture book Cali surfer boy Texas girls all dream about. All blonde hair, blue eyes, and abs. The most beautiful thing about this beautiful man is not the shallow picture most girls want to see. No, the most beautiful thing, and this is really unfair, is his beautiful mind. The pretty packaging is nice but man do I want to delve into the mind within.
“What is she doing?” A woman points at a girl moving erratically. The crowd had parted around the girl so she had space to move around.
“She is dancing,” a man replies with awe in his voice. “And it’s beautiful.”
The woman snorts, “You call that beautiful?”
“Yes,” the man almost whispers. “You see, today her cat ran away and her car broke down. Her health insurance called and will no longer cover her. The lease is up on her apartment and she is going to have to move back in with her parents.”
“So?” The woman asks scornfully. “What does that have to do with her dance being beautiful?”
The man looked the woman dead in the eyes and asked, “If all of that happened to you, would you be dancing?”
“You seem perfectly fine to me,” she said kindly. Tisha looked at me with kind eyes full of sympathy. Too bad she didn’t get what I was trying to say so she told me the same thing everyone else does. “You don’t seem mentally ill.”
I understand this reaction. People aren’t comfortable with the idea of mental illness. They can’t see it so they can’t understand it. To them mental illness is to be feared so, out of kindness, they try to convince you that you aren’t mentally ill. It doesn’t stop the words from hurting when they are said though. Every time someone tells me that I seem fine I feel like they don’t believe me. As if I would come up with something like Bipolar or Asperger’s Syndrome to get attention. Why would I want emotional mood swings I don’t understand? Why would I choose to be on the edge of the crowd not understanding what is going on? I am not fine. I am barely okay. I have days where the sun shines bright and things make sense. More often than not it’s thick clouds and strong winds. Nothing makes sense and I seem to be getting in trouble at every turn. If I open up to you that I have a mental illness it is because I trust you. So refuting me doesn’t make me feel better. It makes me feel crazier than I already do.
I opened an email from L that only held a brief message and several attachments. I click on the link and watched pictures load on my computer screen. Two blonde little girls followed a cow down narrow street ways of India their darker skinned cousins with them. Another of the same two girls reading a book with their darker skinned little sister. A family photo loads this time and I see the two little girls smiling brightly, two beautiful white lilies among carnations.
Each photo is a tiny window into the lives of the daughters I cherish. Seven years ago I decided to give them a better life and found a lovely couple who would cherish them as much as I do. It was a difficult decision to give up my twin daughters but I wasn’t in a position to raise them properly. So I went on a search to find the two people in this world who will love the little lights of my life.
I found L and N through an adoption agency and they were perfect. I didn’t care that they were from a different country than me or that they practiced Hindi. It didn’t matter that they lived halfway across the country. What I cared about the most was how much they loved my daughters. In the first interview I had with them they showed more love and interest in my daughters than any other couple before them. They were exactly what I wanted.
They came down to New Mexico on several connecting flights just so that they could carry our daughters home. My heart broke to see my little girls carried away by two people I barely knew. I had to let them go though because life with me wasn’t stable or healthy by any means. Such precious little children needed to be loved and adored. They should never have to see the harsher side of life. By giving them up I gave them a better life.
It wasn’t until after my daughters were safely in the care of their new parents that I started to worry about the little things. Where will they go to school? Will they make any friends? How will they adjust to the new situation? Will they understand why their skin color is different from their parents? Would they hate me for giving them up? Over and over these questions circled around in my mind. I told myself that I was worrying over nothing but felt it was best to reach out anyway.
As it turns out L was worried about the same things. We bonded first over how we felt that our daughters should be raised. We both believed in a well rounded education. We both believed that our daughters should be encouraged to pursue whatever made them happiest. We both loved watching our daughters explore the world around them. So L and I kept in touch. She would tell me what the girls were up to and would, try, to update her on what I was doing. I had a hard time relating how my life was going because I felt that I didn’t deserve any of the good stuff that was happening to me because I couldn’t raise my daughters. L seemed to understand what I was going through and encouraged me to open up even a little bit. She kept sending updates and pictures even though I never really wrote back. I will always be grateful to her for this look in on their perfect lives.
Does the caged bird know how to fly? Is is always in its cage with only food and water for company. It can look outside to see its brethren soar throw the sky. But does this caged bird still know how to fly? It is difficult to say. We can watch it stretch its wings as it watches the other birds fly. We can see the tentative flaps that get stopped by the edges of the cage. We won’t ever know if the bird can really fly until we open the cage and let it go free.
My relationships feel flat, like I am always reaching out for someone to notice me. This existence feels so lonely. For once can you look behind you and see me walking there. Pause for one moment and think, ‘Isn’t she cute?‘ I’m not delusional enough to believe that would ever happen. You never look back and see me there. So all I can do is reach out and see if you notice me.