excerpt for the abertsworths: tears

17/11/2010 § Leave a comment

After the little tyrant, Sarah, grows older, has done her own thing and made her own in the world, she has a quiet reflection at her grandmother’s house:

“Outside there is a storm. It has a violent and whirling wind that sweeps the leaves and uproots trees. I watch it from inside this shelter on the stoop sitting on my grandmother’s chair that rocks. Here, where it is peaceful and warm.

I remember my life with storms. My aunt would tell ghost stories with her face lit from a flashlight at her chin. I would sit with my cousin cross legged on the bed, wanting the rush of being frightened. My sister would listen from the chair that smelled like a basement filled with grandmother’s pottery, the hobby she stopped from before I was born.

During thunderstorms, I remember wondering where my dog was only to find him cowering in the bathtub, the only room with no windows. He hated loud noises and was a wreck during hunting season. It made me think he was weak and thought he was just being a suck. I also remember his fascination with teenage boys with backpacks and his fear of air-born baseballs.

When lightening flashed and lit up our farm in the middle of the darkest, cloudy night, I would run to the barn to check on the horses. I would find them contently nibbling hay as miniature tornadoes of dust would swirl on the floor. The door would be violently cracking against the walls from being blown wide open. Every storm, my parents would try to calm my neuroses by saying that the horses would be fine outside and that they would know what to do. But it never mattered. The fear of losing the ones that I loved was too strong.

One day, the idea of moving into town came up. The farm was getting to be too much and I was a typical apathetic adolescent who only had time for friends. We decided that it would help everyone in the family if we just moved.

I remember finding homes for all of our family members and euthanizing those that could not come with us. I watched an old friend pick up our old horse to take him to an old lady. I remember cringing at the screeching whiny of our smallest pony, Charlotte, as someone took her away to a new family of children. I remember the nervous hands of our family vet, Helen, when she administered poison into our pig’s ear. I remember hauling the pig’s body wrapped up in a red-and-white striped blanket and lowering her into the shallow grave, the one we dug between the lilac bushes at our Woven Rock Farm. Every time we threw dirt on her, I would make my mother stop because it looked like she was still breathing. In a couple of months, we moved into town with one dog and one cat. We still had one pony at another barn. I would drive to see him six days a week.

After a year, my dog’s health started to deteriorate. He was getting older and could not adjust to the move as quickly as we thought he could. He was so ashamed at the mess he would make in the dining room, hiding behind the couch in the living room. I was embarrassed that I could not do anything to help him. My mom and sister brought him to Helen later that year to have him put down. I refused to be at the vet clinic to say goodbye. The idea of it made me sick.

In that same year, driving back from a Lauryn Hill concert, I got into a car accident. Other then my friend breaking her foot, all six of us walked away from the accident without a scratch. That’s right. All six. It was a detail that the insurance company did not overlook and used it as a loophole. We had to sell the other pony in order to cover the cost to fix the aluminum vehicle we needed. We sold him to a girl at the barn and I cut my tie to him as quickly as we signed his showmanship passport over. I did not know how to let him go or how to say goodbye. So I hid from him because I was ashamed of my weakness.

Sitting on this veranda in a town I thought I had left behind, I thought about this discomfort. Most people run away from tears. I see it in others and, most frighteningly, I see it in myself. I remember telling people to “buck up” while they balled in public spaces or in front of unfamiliar faces. Tears are just too real — like tiny magnifying glasses into our most vulnerable places. It makes us feel weak to expose ourselves. We are embarrassed of our messy, snotty sleeves.

But, if you don’t let it rain, how will anything grow?”

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