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OtterSummer 8.36-Numb-ers

Maybe something inside every young woman wants to fail. Perhaps, searching for but not yet finding a workable identity encourages her to anticipate shortfalls. Maybe she’s forgotten what her earlier successes felt like. Could even be that her friends reverberate what used to be her worst fear into inescapable inevitability. Could it be a way to rebel against an adult world that doesn’t always seem so grown up?

Some days, The Grand Otter’s radiant energy seems unable to escape from her internal gravitational pull. She embodies dark matter, invisible to my naked eyes; perhaps to her’s, too. I find her still up at three am, complaining about how she just can’t get to sleep these days. I invite her to figure out a way to get up by nine for sourdough pancakes, but she won’t commit. I understand that she can’t commit, and a sharp twinge pokes somewhere near my heart.

The Muse roused her, and she made it to the table while the cakes were still pliable. Even the joy of that small success quickly clouded over when the conversation swerved to a prescription not taken. I could almost hear the helium escaping.

Way too much energy seems expended explaining what she doesn’t do, what she isn’t, what she can’t. Very little radiance results. Instead, an apparent escape even deeper into the shadow cavern. Who knows what she might be interpreting from those dancing, featureless ghosts. I’m not certain that it’s even her world she inhabits there, numb and unresponsive.

I don’t really wonder what numbs her. I suspect the same things numb me. Small disappointments strung together on surprisingly strong thread. A small discouraging word. An endless, apparently hostile, horizonless, over-heated hazy sky. The isolation only three am in grandma’s guest room understands. A chore metastasized into an over-due obligation. An aspiration blunted. A hope deferred. A wish that holds no possibility of ever, ever coming true. Just the uncertainty of anyone’s future could tip these delicate scales.

Resilience might emerge from this chillingly cold fusion of person with place. Nothing—no one—could accurately predict any outcome from here. Could she choose to imagine any outcome she wants, or must she flee from possibilities for now?

I hope my presence encourages her brighter angels, though I know my own numbing presence sometimes. I am nobody’s Andy Hardy, and I long ago stopped believing we could transform the cow shed into a Broadway theater, thereby saving the farm. Yet, even so, some days I wake leaning into my immediate future, warmly anticipating what I might discover there.

When the kids in those mollifying childrens’ books spent the summer at grandma’s, their days were always filled with sunny extroversion; adventure all day long, every fricking day. They felt the heat of the noonday sun and the chill of the lake after jumping off the dock. They were never numb, hung in such uncertainty, huddling through another three am soul call. They were, on reflection, cartoon caricatures of real children; unthinking, unconcerned, even when the neighbor went missing and they turned into sleuths. And the mystery was always resolved in the end.

The Muse’s place is clearly no Sunnybrook Farm. We have no hay loft above a stable, and no cheerful, rather simple handyman with a heart of gold to confide in. No cook to spread freshly-churned butter on warm-from-the-oven bread. No speedboat. No jalopy. No pony named Beauty. What’s a Grand Otter to do?

What should any of us do? We might hold ourselves gently, reverently. Our mystery’s certainly sacred, worthy of our confused adoration; of our heart-felt confusion.

Shit stinks in the real world, especially if David’s been holding up the impatient line to The Otter’s shower. “Oh, God,” our outraged Otter exclaims before she empties a half can of Lysol® into the space as if traumatized for life. Childhood does that, but no less than adulthood does. Life, it seems, occurs on a plane stretching between three am this morning and tomorrow’s three am. Midnight of the soul’s nothing compared to the overwhelmingly numbing moment three hours later.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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