Saturday, September 02, 2017

If I Belonged

> When did it start to feel like… Like you fit? Like you…belonged here?
> Well, I'm still not sure I do.

If I belonged
Really belonged
I wouldn’t feel the need
To prove myself
To show my worth
To defend every action
Every desire for connection
Every longing for love

If I belonged
I wouldn’t feel like I was trespassing
On someone else’s territory
Fearful of triggering
Someone’s anger
That I had overstepped
My bounds
Taken what was
Not mine
Expected more than
I was owed
As if friendships are transactions
And love can be meted out
In weights and measures

I don’t know how to belong
Without being invited
How do I differentiate
An invitation
From my own longing?

Carving out a place for myself
Evokes images of sharp edges
Blades cutting and slashing
Creating a space
In the absence of a welcome

I’d rather nestle in
Where space is made
With the intent
That I should fill it
A me-shaped space
A perfect fit

But this requires
The involvement of others
One in which
Belonging can never be
A one-sided decision

I see now
This is belonging
Among people

What if this is too narrow a focus?

Can I belong in the world
Without people being involved?

Why should other people
Have the power to decide
If I belong?
Am I beholden to them
For my existence
Simply because I’ve never felt
What it means to belong?

What if belonging
Is a state of being
And not a status
A rank granted
Only if one meets
Subjective standards
And pays one’s dues?

If I belonged
As a state of being
I could stop apologizing
For being who I am
If I belonged
As a state of being
I would have just as much right
To happiness and joy
To love and fulfillment
As anyone else

If I belonged
As a state of being
My needs would be important
Should the cabin lose air pressure
One of those oxygen masks
Would be for me
And I could secure it on myself
With gratitude

If I belonged
As a state of being
Then should others
Overlook me
Forget me
Ignore me
Try to erase me
I have a right
Even an obligation
To speak up for myself
To fight for myself

Because I belong
And I will not be erased
I belong
And I have a right to be happy

I belong
I do not need to carve out a space
Or nestle in to one existing

I will make my own space
In the world
And invite others
To stand with me
To sit next to me
To share with me

And if I sometimes feel
Like a fish out of water
Because belonging
Has been foreign all my life
Then I will be that fish
Who learns to live on land
Big plans for that fish
Don’t step on me

I belong.

Literary Orgasms

I've long said that the act of writing, whether a short story, a novel, or a poem, is like giving birth. The only difference between the three is the length of gestation.

There is the initial orgasmic ecstasy of a new idea, of plot twists and characters imbued with meaning and perhaps layers of symbolism. There is the period of morning sickness, of wondering what the hell I've gotten myself into and isn't there a more qualified writer to manifest this idea into reality?

There are those first kicks, proof that the idea is developing a life of its own, that ultimately the story will leave the womb and make its way into the world. At times, the story leaves me fatigued and heavy, a beached whale that can barely string two words together while having to pee every thirty minutes.

And finally, after what seems like a lifetime of feeding off me like a literary parasite, and at the same time not nearly enough time together, it's ready to be born, accompanied by sweat and copious tears and possibly some blood.

Nursed through marketing efforts, it soon can stand on its own, garnering the strength to stand up to bullying critics, to make new friends, to find its place in the world.

Until a new idea hits with white-hot passion and my toes curl with the sheer joy of telling another story that can touch someone else's heart.