EVERY STORM ENDS
On the gloom soaked days of October, i’ll smell like rain and cigarettes. I’ll light my own, then offer one to the stranger next to me, as we sit just out of the rain’s reach.
I will brush the hand of the starry eyed girl next to me. She will smile politely, and she’ll tell me smoking’s gonna kill me. Her teeth will be white enough for me to see through the mist. But I will still offer to share my umbrella as we walk, and I’ll stand on the outside to shield her from the speeding cars.
We’ll watch the lightning for hours, and I’ll light another cigarette. She will refuse to hold my hand until I put it out, she’ll tell me i’m throwing it all away.
I’ll tell her then, that the storm makes me feel too clean. That the smoke is the only thing to remind me that even the darkest of storms will pass. She’ll roll her eyes, first. But she’ll see the severity behind my eyes when I tell her again. when i tell her i do not feel worthy of the clean slate the storms bring.
I will take her inside as the storm gives up, cover us both in layers of fleece and wool as we steep our tea and light some candles. And i will look directly into those starry eyes, and realize i am still outside, standing in the middle of the storm as the lightning dances to the rhythm of the thunder. The type of disaster that knocks the power out for miles, with a wind so angry it sets the street alive with screaming car alarms.
Only I will be completely out of smokes. There is nothing to hold onto, to wake me from the delight I could never fully feel.
And it will pass, like every storm does. The sun will steal the evidence it ever happened, and the birds will wade in whatever is left.
I used to be a cautious driver,
Always defensive, prepared for anything.
But lately, people have told me
my driving scares them,
that I go too fast, brake too hard.
“You drive like you’re ready to die.”
I am starting to see the truth in that.
It started when I met her,
I was able to loosen my grip on the wheel,
let up on my brake,
drive a little faster, with a lot less intent
to keep myself safe.
Because she made me feel safe, regardless.
I was on my way to see her,
We had plans to get tattooed,
And spend the day together
After an exhausting time apart.
I drove into the city,
Felt my pedal hit the floor for the first time.
But I got distracted,
Or the city got too loud,
And I popped my tire in the middle of Storrow Drive.
Sometimes I keep myself up at night,
Wondering what would have happened if
I’d made it to her, if
Maybe we’d still be able to look
Each other in the eye without flinching.
I called her from the curb,
Told her we’d reschedule between the cries of stress.
She just said she was on her way.
And I thought she was joking,
That she thought I’d chuckle through the pain,
Until I watched her scale the chainlink,
And dance her way to my side,
Placing herself gently next to my empty body,
And my shell of a vehicle.
And she held my hand
while we waited for rescue
Shielding each other from the bitter wind,
And the passing cars on the side of Storrow Drive.
Before that day,
I had told myself I was not ready
To fall in love with someone
I felt as though I could not have.
Until that day, I wanted to be cold,
To trace the constellations of my goosebumps,
And laugh at those in love.
Maybe it was her southern sunshine,
The smile she wore when she looked at me,
But I was ready to get behind the wheel,
To floor it and keep going,
Because I knew she’d keep me safe.
But I am still a bad driver,
My techniques tend to scare people,
And it was never her fault when I lost control,
Sending us both into wreckage,
Totaling whatever we had left of us.
This time, I watched her walk away from the car,
The car I crashed,
Still on fire,
While I waited for rescue, alone,
Stuck on the side of the road,
Remembering the night on Storrow Drive.
My mother is Christine Alicia Medeiros, a name given to her when she was rescued from a home that had no love in their living room. Whether it was swept under the rug, or buried underneath the foundation is unclear, but she was able to scrape enough love together to take with her.
As someone who has been raised in a single parent household, I have a tendency to want to protect my mother. All I wanted was to be the electric fence, a warning for anyone trying to break in.
My mother is 4’11 on a good day, though she swears she’s five feet. And she swears she could beat you up, if she had to. It is difficult to take her seriously when you have to look down to see her, but she is so much more than her height. She has a heart so big, she might as well be ten stories tall.
My mother built me a house from her love, gave me all of her warmth to compensate for the draft from my father. She’d sit with me for hours, answering every question I had for her. Questions like, “Mama, why is the sky blue?” “Mama, why are you so sad?” “Mom, why is there so much wrong with me?” “Mom, why can’t I love myself as much as you love me?”
We thought things would get easier as I got older. But instead of moving out, our rooms got smaller, like the love i had for myself.
And that love turned into:
Concern my mother had for me; therapy sessions; a diagnosis; broken windows; power outages: and eventually my mother’s broken heart.
To my mother, my illness was house fire, and she couldn’t find the carbon monoxide on time. all she could do was watch me burn. She did not take cover. She sat, right with me, trying to hold my walls together, trying to keep the flames from taking me down, but she only burned her hands in the process.
My mother tells me she’s sorry she couldn’t stop the roof from caving in. That she couldn’t make her steel beam arms stretch tall enough to hold me up. and the feeling is the same one I get on a rollercoaster, right before the big drop. My stomach rises into my chest, and just sits there. Like I can feel my own demolition in slow motion. To hear her tell me she does not see everything she’s done for me as more than enough, feels more like crumbling than a diagnosis does.
My mother reminds me that my illness does not correlate to the amount of love she has for me. She loves me because she does not want me having to dig for it, the same way she had to. Does not want me to feel like a condemned building. She did not bury her love under an unstable foundation, did not sweep it under a fraying rug. Instead it sits, already opened, on my porch steps.
My mother is Christine Alicia Medeiros. She is 4’11, and she will beat you up if she has to. But she will love you until your ribs hurt, until your heart swells, even if you have to tell her you cannot love yourself. Even if the roof has fallen in, and your floors have splintered. My mother will be your construction crew. No one deserves to be condemned. You do not have to rebuild yourself alone.
Willow Feyth has a spoken word album, Brain Sick, that can be found on Spotify. They also have a podcast, Title Pending Podcast, that can be found on Spotify.