Friday, June 15, 2012

Raindrops: Little Jennifer's Perspective

“There are a hundred things she has tried to chase away the things she won't remember and that she can't even let herself think about because that's when the birds scream and the worms crawl and somewhere in her mind it's always raining a slow and endless drizzle." Neil Gaiman

“People always think that happiness is a faraway thing," thought Francie, "something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains - a cup of strong hot coffee when you're blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you're alone - just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness.” Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
"Rain drops keep falling on my head, and just like the guy who's feet are too big for his bed, nothing seems to fit.  Those raindrops are falling.  They keep falling so I just did me some talking to the sun.  Said I didn't like the way he got things done.  Sleepin' on the job." 

 In my opinion, a person's past is something recreated by his or her present.  We look back on our existence for memories that help us understand the story of our lives.  We search for continuity, for meaning, for hope. We write our own mythologies.  For me, one such memory came when I was quite small, before the birth of my brother, while my family lived with my mother's parents.  I've no idea what day of the week it was or my exact age, probably three or four.  I do remember that the tension in the house was palpable.  It made me anxious.  As the hours passed, I continued to worry. Finally, I walked to the kitchen that mother shared with my grandmother and asked if tomorrow would be "happy day".  No, the answer I received wasn't a reassuring one.  Instead, my childlike mind absorbed the following reply: "No, we will never have a happy day.  Either, you, me, or your father will be in a bad mood and we cannot be happy."  I remember walking away quietly, lying down on my bed, hugging my Rainbow Brite pillow, and then giving into tears.  I don't know why that memory stands out but it does.  Maybe its because even now I wonder if that's true.  What if the people I care for the most disappear?  What the nightmares never stop?  What if the darkness overwhelms me?  I'm scared.

Honestly, I don't know how to solve that problem.  How did I fix it when I was young?  Before I understood reality?  Because right now I keep hearing that voice repeating: We cannot be happy.  Maybe it comes down to having a "childlike faith".  Normally, when I hear that phrase my back goes up like a cat's because American Evangelicals often use it to defend aggressive ignorance concerning their faith and doctrine.  However, it seems to me, that what separated Little Jennifer from Middle Aged Jennifer is the ability to forget.  Kids have short term memory.  Yeah, things hurt.  They cry, but children are resilient and hopeful.  Maybe, if I want to shake off some of the fear, I have to believe the past isn't a prophecy for my future  Happiness is "a place of shelter when it rains," and, in my opinion, that shelter is being "with someone you love".  Its that simple.  And perhaps that's why it often seems so cruel to those who have felt the rain and loneliness so often. Why are things so easy for some people but not others?  You can't help but ask that question.  Truthfully, I have a glimmer of hope that things in my life are starting to fit.  I guess that's why I'm so frightened.  What if all that hope and love is about to be dashed?  Little Jennifer would tell me pray at night and tomorrow, surely, God will give us a "happy day".  Little Me might be right.  For tonight, I think I'll take her naive advice, pray that the hope and love won't be snatched away, and maybe even do a "little talking with the sun...he's been sleepin' on the job!"

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