“Open your eyes wide,” he says intensely, lovingly.
I don’t look at him. My tears are hot, formed by some unknown frustration and anger.
He knows me. Well. We’ve had this conversation more than once. It used to be often. Not lately though, lately I’ve been fine.
But something made it’s way into my soul, some discontented itch I can never scratch.
That deep seeded longing, that feeling like something needs to change.
It’s a feeling I’ve grown to hate. I don’t know how to shut everything up and just go through life happy.
I start to feel trapped.
“But what about…”
I start blaming him, blaming my time in ministry, blaming my own fear, blaming the future I was so sure of when I was 19 or 22.
When I was small, I made up stories in my head constantly. While I ate cereal, I would picture whole groups of tiny people living in my bowl, a cheerio as a flotation device like in the terrifying scene from Honey I Shrunk the Kids. But a bite wouldn’t kill them, it would just force them to move, to set up home inside my stomach like Mrs. Frizzle’s class in The Magic School Bus learning about digestion.
Lying in bed at night, I’d stare into the darkness until I saw shapes and colors. I convinced myself I saw things, people, spirits, other worlds. I was sure that that’s what was real.
When I took a bath, I’d put my ears under the warm water close my eyes, leaving my nose in the air to breathe. The world would fade away and the only thing I’d hear was a deep methodic pounding, like ancient drums calling out to me. Sometimes I’d think if I listened hard enough I would be able to decipher it. Those thumps would quicken and I was convinced that it meant in my sleep I’d meet some horrible monster or be stuck in a pit without being able to get my legs or my voice to work.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized it was just my own heartbeat.
I still make up stories in my head.
I project myself into a future where I am blissfully happy, or exceedingly miserable.
I romanticize moments in my past where I think I was more myself, more alive because I was doing this thing in that place, having some adventure.
Of course, I exclude from my memory the times my heart ached, the times I wanted to give up, the times I just couldn’t wait for it to be over.
I turn to him, frantic.
“Life is so short… I just want to have an adventure.”
“You are an adventure.”
He reminds me of the good, shows me the beauty.
Slowly, I open my eyes wide.