What Lies Beneath

summer1Art – Atlantic Summer by

Originally Written — October 11, 2009

Wait, I’m going down to put the coffee on.

Okay, I’m back. While I waited for it to brew, I wiped out an entire counter full of dirty dishes that I should have done last night. Do you always do your dishes immediately after dinner? My mother always did. She would never have left a dirty dish in the sink overnight.

I slept through the night last night, but I dreamed the night away. I dream about houses a lot, but last night was different. Usually the houses I dream about are in tremendous need of repair. I know I’ve written about this before, but bear with me. They are in different stages of decay. They are often dirty, old, have structural damage, and sometimes they have a bad man in them that intends harm. I’m always itching to start working on them, but something is preventing me.

Last night I dreamed that H and I had a lovely little house that met all our needs. It was cheerful and sat on a beautiful piece of land. Then I dreamed that one of my best friends invited us over to see her new house. It was incredible, magnificent. It was a Frank Lloyd Wright sort of thing and she loved it. The important thing about the dream is the way I felt about the two houses. I loved my house and when I saw that my friend had a house that would be judged by most to be far grander than mine, I was happy for her, but I was secretly relieved that it was her house and not mine. I wanted the smaller, less grand house.

That’s how I feel about my life now. I have several relatives who live large lives. You’ve met these people. They’re larger than life, they shove life along instead of letting it pull them along. Others often bend willingly to their will. They are charismatic and bold. I’m no different from anyone else. I’m caught under their spell when I’m around them. They fill up the room when they walk in and suck the air out when they leave, and I greatly admire what they’ve done, but I never wanted a large life. I wouldn’t even know what to do with it. It would be wasted on me. I find pleasure in a smaller life, refuge even.

Though I appear to others to be an extrovert, I love the quiet hours of my life most of all. I no longer itch for the company of others; I even find it a little draining after a while. Almost no one in my life knows this about me. I’ve changed so much in the past decade or so. I’m speaking about internal change, of course. There is now great disparity between my view of myself and the way others see me – except for H. I’ve been aware of this for a while now.

I don’t know if aging or gender have a play in this or not. People don’t see you as much when you’re an older woman, or perhaps it’s nothing more than others being caught up in their own expectations based on what has always been. People see what they expect to see. We’ve always been what we’ve always been to certain people in our lives, and perhaps that’s the way it will remain. We’ve played certain roles, and those close to us see what they’ve always seen. A mother to a child. A wife to a husband. A sister to a brother. Maybe everyone feels safer if some things don’t change.

By the way, none of this is as pitiful as it sounds. It isn’t something about which I experience angst. It’s just an observation. In fact, I think I may experience a morsel of pleasure at being a bit of an iceberg. For so many years, I was the writing on the wall. Everyone could see all there was to see. Now they see only what’s above water, and we all know that only the tip of the iceberg is above water.

I know this is too much navel gazing for 6 AM.

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