Hometown. Side Street.
The roads are heavily puddled, revealing a freshly passed rain storm and hiding ill-managed potholes. I drive down this slow residential street not because I live here, but because it avoids the town’s only intersection and the poor right-of way-habits of its residents. I admire an absolutely beaming rainbow when I notice a lone woman on the side of the road, leaning awkwardly against between a bush and a fence, phone clutched to her ear, her other hand is on her forehead but slips over her mouth as I pass. Her knees fold and she collapses into herself. She is crying.
My eyes close for a moment as I absorb just a bit of her pain, and wonder who or what broke her heart today, or if perhaps she did it to herself.
This has been typical of this week, this time. Lots of Rain and lots of Heartbreak.
I spend a lot of time at work in tiny rooms trying to get the big picture. Theres the jail visits, where voices bounce off hard walls and hardened hearts, or the distinct click of the office door and the hum of the too-cold air conditioning and three foot of space between two strangers where one person either spills all their secrets or lies about everything and the other person writes everything down. Thats me. The person who rights everything down. I go into these rooms as friendly as I can, knowing that even the scariest person is really just scared out of their mind. I also go in knowing that in a two hour time frame there’s no fucking way I will understand what they’ve been through but its just me doing my job to at least try.
Some days the tiny room is just me and four stacked volumes of juvenile records. By law these sensitive files are destroyed by age thirty but I can tell you that this shit never really goes away. Neglect. Abuse. Mental Illness. Molestation. Addiction. Homelessness. Loss. I don’t know how anyone survives it all, especially a kid. And then I remember hello dumb ass you have survived some of these very things yourself. Though sometimes surviving is a loose term considering many of us are still cycling through the same unhealthy patterns.
I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me, “I don’t know if you’re a mother but…” I want to say, “Yes. I am. And I know exactly what you mean.” But I won’t talk about myself at work. A mother’s experience in the world–boy joy and pain–is exemplified by the fact that her children is going to experience all the things. They may be susceptible to struggles, may fall victim to others, or perhaps even make an irreversible mistake that she can’t fix for them or even begin to support them through.
The fact that these things happen to anyones child every single day is a real hard pill to swallow. The thing is. Once you learn to recognize these things in people you tend to see it in every person you know. And while I don’t talk about my home life at work, I can’t talk about work at home so it all kind of sits there, soaking.
My grandmother–excuse me, my Nana–is currently in the ICU. I would say she taught me everything I know, because it would roll off the tongue so easily, but the truth is she was the one who first taught me about the things I’ll never know. The things that you can’t hold in your hand, or even breathe upon. The things that you can only wonder about, those that you feel in your heart, the way to believe in something greater than yourself, the way you see this world and the things beyond it. This is supposed to be balance to all the pain that we feel, the heartache we see and experience. That theres something bigger than it all, some bigger purpose. Faith. Something so big that these sentences could never fill it or explain it and I could never understand it. Nor is it my job to do so.
Wouldn’t it be nice to say that on the road of life things are put in your path for a reason. As they say, no rain, no rainbows… but also no potholes. The reason for the rainbows and the potholes, are both the rain. Neither of these things makes sense but one is considered beautiful and one is not. Which leads me to think that a lot of things happen for no fucking reason at all.
Why does this week seem so intense? I don’t know. But I don’t think I’m the only one noticing or feeling it. Perhaps it’s something cosmic. Perhaps when our awareness of others is so extreme it is a call from within to try to understand our own experience. Or maybe it’s a call to help others. Or a little bit of both.
So this week comes to a close. A week of heartbreak. I can feel the heaviness in my shoulders and see it beneath my eyes. Theres a patch of callused and cracked skin on my thumb from the nervous rubbing. And now i can hear the rain falling outside, slipping against the soaked earth into whatever indentations it can find,cutting it deeper, penetrated, more distinct.
And my heart. Same.