I would imagine if I were starving and placed at the forefront of a great feast, I’d be filled with angst. How would I carry it all away and save it for when there was none? I couldn’t possibly enjoy a corn soufflé knowing it wouldn’t last and the pheasant would turn to bile and the next day it would all be empty and dry again. Just bones in the dust. Hungry. So I’d sit at the head of the table smiling whilst stuffing dinner rolls in my saddle bags. We just can’t help but to carry around the angst of our past, wondering if the good times might fade away.
I think of the last few years as a trench that I’ve been living in, just hunkered down with my provisions, escaping for food and coming back to the hole with a heavy sigh. It’s natural when you’ve been beat down to want to protect yourself from attack and make sure you stride more watchfully into the dark night.
When my foot touched down upon a different future, naturally I was still burdened with the memories. Nights in the hole. Bombs dropping and shells exploding and haunting faces in my dreams, hollowed out and empty. But when you leave a warzone, there is no identifying tattoo speed across your chest. Separated by enough continents and time zones you just seem to have appeared from somewhere, like you went on vacation with a svelte new frame and more coy responses.
So here I am. I look down to see jewels on my fingers. I sit at the fancy table with shimmering lights and roses, where men ask to call and tell me I’m pretty. And in the middle of the room as I cross it in heels toward the door my insides just rage with fire and bristle. I remember the hole. The ache of starvation. The pit of my stomach is just as far to the ground as it was in the worst nights, and I find my hands clasping around a hard dinner roll. I slip it in my pocket. Just in case. The funny thing is that the fear of death and the fear of living have the same effect on me. Both are filled with the unknown, and that causes my stomach pit to flare.
At 3 am this morning I woke, filled with that familiar dread. The pain that all this bounty will come crashing down. The high will subside. The peace broken. Pheasant always turns to bile in the end. And yet as I lay there with my two children, huddled to my left and to my right, I heard the strangest thing. My daughter, who appeared to be giggling. In her sleep she was laughing, and I heard the manifestation of dreams. I held my children tight and let tears well and realized that God is to my left and to my right. He stretches beyond me and is far behind. What, and whom, shall I fear?
I dress for dinner in a house bathed in peace. I have a night ahead filled with laughter, with new heels just for the occasion. In my slumber I see new life sprouting. I take the saddle bags, the ones filled with old crusty rolls, and I leave them sitting by the garage door, leaning over just so. A smile spreads from the ether of my former self, the one who remembered. The one filled with fear.
I have no need for these any more, it seems.