I was taking a dreamless nap around 5 pm on a Thursday afternoon. Suddenly my light sleep was interrupted by a slow creak coming from the front door. I opened my eyes and stared blankly at the ceiling. Aurora’s sprite voice traveled up the stairwell and filled my room with the energy of glee. Her friend Dina from across the street had returned with her. I listened closely to the girls and grinned, shifting under the sheets and contemplating the long hop out of bed to go make them some popcorn.
“I’m going to go check on my mom.” I heard Aurora say. My heart quivered at the delivery. An innocent six year old was talking about checking on me as if she knew I was dying, like I was a constant critical mess. I tried to protect her from my messiness, from all the gray clouds in my head. I guess the charade wasn’t faring as well as I’d thought. It wasn’t her fault. Partially it was just a downtrodden time, another time to regroup. The other tiny part of weight in my soul was that I was still all eaten up by what Daniel had said to me a week earlier.
The night he’d come over, Daniel confessed that he was basically terrified of my child. He was just being honest, but it made me so sad, destroyed even. I didn’t know how to put him at ease or alleviate his concern. I cried in the bathtub for three nights in a row because I felt so secluded in trying to raise this child and date these timid, fearful men at same time. I’m fooling myself if I act like I didn’t have a blast with Daniel. I did. I have never woken up laughing so hard before in my life. I just believe him to be an insensitive bed hopper and I get defensive when people treat my life condition and my motherhood like it’s something to fear, like it’s a negative, only to excuse their own addictions. I could write him off, the mother in me was pleading to never talk to him again. But I kept dreaming about him. I don’t fall madly in love with every man I dream about, but it makes me far more sensitive to them, more willing to climb unsteady limbs to chance the strength of the wind. The dreaming and my mommy hood are my only weaknesses. Most of the generic tards trying to pass for men don’t spend enough time with me to ever become a liability or even understand what’s important in the scheme of my life.
It’s such a raw and ravaged topic; single parenthood. I managed to conceal Aurora from Joshua for two whole months. Once he found out about her, once it was all out in the open--- he never came back. It shreds me still; it pulls the most fragile pieces of me utterly apart. I tried to talk to Daniel peacefully, as directly as possible, to prevent the exact same thing from happening. I was well reserved in opening up around him anyway. But I begged him to not let Aurora be the reason he avoided me altogether. It was probably a waste of air. Maybe he just didn’t really like me to begin with. Maybe he found too many soot stains on my body from all the other places men had burned me. Maybe I tasted like a leftover turkey to him. After all, I was just a chew toy and Aurora was just a convenient excuse to write me off as another pair of tits. It infuriated me, for Aurora’s and my sakes. I can’t even keep steady male friends anymore; I sacrificed most of them one at a time because they were all weird with my being a young mom.
Daniel was a lighthearted man, a man of bold humor with a pinch of sweetness. But the no-nonsense grown up in me, wanted to tell him to grow a pair and face me so I could knock the womanizing scamp right out of his deranged ego. It was only destined to destroy him. Being an irresponsible dick swinger could be seen as a far worse way of life than my way. There is nothing unsightly about being an independent mother with a child, making sacrifices to care for another. It’s not a negative arrangement by any standard of God. But men who are blind in one eye cannot see that Aurora saved and blessed my life, I simply would not be alive if I hadn’t conceived her. And those MILF hunting men wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to use me and fuck me and pour me out like bad milk if that child hadn’t been born. You’d think they’d stick around long thank her properly.
If I were still enjoying all of the MILF use and single serving consumption, it would be one thing, but it’s reached a point of sheer humiliation, a point of retaliatory contempt even. I would never venture so far as to take this out on a single man, oh the contrary, it’s the case by case basis that I am far too tolerant of. Only now I’m exceedingly leery of entangling happiness and laughter with types like Daniel. I tried to talk to him about all this one night when he was sober. I invited him to return and be mellow with me, to be sober with me. He did not want to give me the clear-minded time of day.
I remember when I was twelve years old, traveling up in Canada on a church mission trip. A few of the boys my age began to swoon over these blond Canadian girls. I made the mistake of expressing discontent, maybe it was teenage jealousy, who knows. Jealousy is something most reasonable people outgrow. I guess I hadn’t accomplished that feat back then. About those Canadian blond geese though, I recall posing the inquiry to the guys, “Why do you like them? You don’t even know them. We are leaving Canada tomorrow and you are never going to see those girls again in your life.” A mean, portly looking boy put me in my place real fast.
“What makes you think we’d like you over them, Jessi? What is there to like?” He started laughing as he scanned his dirt obstructed eyes down my lanky body and then slapped snobby high fives with the other boys. In what I interpreted as compulsory cruelty, they laughed at me for nearly five minutes. In the midst of a church trip, no less, a net that’s supposed to be free of this very type of exclusion and mockery. I looked down at my then very flat chest, cringed in my own awkward skin and became flushed with embarrassment. I wanted to piss myself away and crawl into my flat-chested grave and die. Before I died though, I wanted to swat the beam out of that fat kid’s eye.
Such corporeal downgrades have produced the very repeating question I’ve been confronted with throughout my life; “Why would anyone ever love you?” Um hello, I’m Mary. Does the phrase “love one another as He has loved thee” not mean anything on this slut, visual stimuli junkie of a planet? Moreover, the question should be, “Why not love perfect strangers and imperfect friends when you have the chance to do so? Would it be too nice or strenuous to bother befriending people who know the face of rejection well?”
As Aurora’s miniature feet slapped up the wooden stairs and entered my room, none of these venomous memories, male hang ups, or singular fringes mattered anymore. There she was---the one person who had loved me unquestionably her entire life; Aurora, the Princess of Angels. I sat up in bed and greeted my winged darling.
“Hi baby! Are you and Dina having fun?” I extended my arms and waited maternally for her to hug me.
“Yes Mommy, we are going to go into the backyard and play on the swings, I just wanted to let you know I was back from Dina’s house.” She wrapped her little arms around my ribcage and squeezed me. I kissed the top of her head and ran a few fingers through her long brown hair. She leaned up and gave me a quick smack of a kiss before spinning back around and dashing out the door. I didn’t have much time to breathe or thank God before the phone summoned me with a standard ring. I checked the caller ID. It was Daniel. Oh God, what does he want now? I thought he was done tasting this mermaid and went onto greener seas to sample the flavors of plainer fish.
“Hello.” I said, not even trying to disguise the tone of defeat in my voice.
“Don’t go anywhere I’ll find you!” He announced in a bad female imitated voice, trying to sound all like that psycho redheaded chick in Wedding Crashers. He had previously insinuated I was like her, I guess because I have red hair or because I was affectionate with him when he came around. I didn’t know if he was joking for the sake of making me laugh or trying to have a laugh at my expense.
“Oh God.” I moaned and rolled four circles with my eyes. “What is it Daniel?” I asked impatiently.
“I’m better than salt.” He bragged at warp speed.
“Huh?” I pretended to be unenlightened. What a nosy stalker.
“You heard me. I said I’m better than salt.” I sensed a tiny hint of injury in his voice, concealed by gallant pride.
Drawing from the psychic well, I splashed him with my retort. “Yeah if you’re better than salt, then I imagine I probably ‘like you better than you like me.’ Sound familiar jackass?” That arrogant, stringy blond headed douche had accused me of liking him more than he liked me, I heard him pompously running on in his dull attempt to fluff his blond hair into the next drunk fling to fruit town. He had telepathically attacked me to death saying that shit. Every split second he wasted thinking of me, he was all “She likes me more than I like her.” The fuck I do, guess again and reverse that you abominable horse head.
“I’m just teasing you Jess, lighten up. “ I could sense his face soften as he smiled in the mirror of his own conceit. “So when are you going to let me take you out to lunch Jess?” He continued.
“When you become blind to every other pair of tits walking around in the world and learn the meaning of forsaking all others.” He didn’t want to take me out. He was just toying with me again. Squish, squeak, squish.
“So next week is good? “ He chuckled like a goat.
“Next lifetime when you reincarnate as a blind man, maybe.” I cracked hotly. I uncrossed my eyebrows and tried to be serious with him. Not an easy thing to do with the Vince Vaughn wanna-be. “Listen, all joking aside, I’m glad you called.” I cleared my throat. “I had a dream about you.” I said in the voice of the psycho chick from Wedding Crashers.
Daniel roared into laughter. “Here we go again, you and those pretentious dreams.”
Watch it pal, the dreams are one of the most important pieces of my life’s work, don’t knock it till you try it. Guarding appreciation for what makes you happy and garners satisfaction isn’t merely a preventive way to survive; it’s just sensible and wise and rewarding. Daniel’s jerk syndrome is somewhat threatening to that ideal. I’m quite sure he’s winsomely determined to suck the respect out of my panties and drain the integrity out of my naked dreams and then leave the scene of the crime.
“The dreams are only pretentious when your icky face shows up.” I spat. I despised him for being closed minded and only regarding his own stupid interests, memorizing bad movie lines being one of his dumb hobbies. If I’d thought he’d actually read up on the mechanics of the dream state, I might care what he thinks. I don’t. I was just trying to help him, do him a soul favor by relaying the damn dream message. I have a “don’t shoot the messenger” type of gig with my abilities, but most people are too blockheaded and self-seeking to be receptive. Fortunately I don’t give up easy.
He started singing some bad rap song to try to throw me but I swiftly cut him off. “Just hear me out before you go all American Idol. I was dreaming and I saw you riding on a skateboard. You were right outside the cabin of a boat I was in. Seeing a skateboard in dream can mean one is attempting to dodge life’s burdens and ignore difficult issues. My guess is, funny man, that you use your fine potty humor to avoid the seriousness of everything.” The silence greeted me. I thanked the silence, tossed the image of Daniel’s sharp blue eyes out of my mind and continued. “The other thing, well…” I hesitated. I had seen us in bed together but I didn’t want to disclose that part of the dream. I quickly figured out a way to omit the minor detail.
“Errr…I saw us looking up at this beautiful pine ceiling and then one of the pine planks fell out, landing right between us. In the dream I said to you, ‘That must be a sign, I’m working on the wood floors, only my floors are oak and this is pine.’ We said ‘pine’ simultaneously. Pine in dreaming pertains to natural abilities and one’s bonded relationship to nature and naturally inherent talents.”
I was uneasy and dumbfounded by seeing such meaningful symbolism in Daniel’s dream presence. It made me feel way too close to his higher self, close in a way I knew I could never fully admit to him now--especially because in the dream, we were sprawled out in bed together when the pine had appeared. Bed means intimacy. I felt like the images and impressions signified how natural he and I are when we’re together. I wanted to eat that page out of my dream journal and never give it a second thought. I will be damned to a chauvinist's worst version hell if I ever like that clownish, blond nut job more than he likes me.