Moonlight leaked from the window sill spilling onto the floor making long shadows of the figurines that collected dust on long-overlooked shelves; my breath caught for a deluded second as I mistook the shadows for one of them out of bed. I collapsed into the chair heavy like the house that creaked in the quiet of the night, groaning under the weight of standing tall for over 65 years. I had work to do.
The blue light of the screen illuminated my face and I angrily gnashed keys on my laptop, the ones with the smooth synthetic touch of silicone. I tried to concentrate on their foreign feel, the artificial sense the overlay gave to the keys; I knew I must somehow construct a similarly synthetic facade to the ferocity of pressure built behind the messages I had to send to the school, subjects as finely innervated as the tips of my fingers; raw, delicate, and real.
Fingers grazed the keys and my mind drifted to the odd position we have been placed by chance; a life that is so excruciatingly public, a strange mix of spectacle and need. I must spill the most difficult and private to an audience of strangers out of necessity; perhaps out of desperation. I sat with the house heavy in slumber, constructing a carefully veiled message laced with reference to legal regulation and painfully private detail of my children’s lives; I was struck by the immense need.
Halted in my clacking I became lost in musing; disability has made my family’s lives like an old time circus act. The one the audience flocked to watch trapped waffling between amazed baited breath, profound desire to intervene on behalf of the performers, and the wish to shut their eyes tight against the anxiety of it all. And at the center of it all was me, the show’s ring leader, directing and coordinating, protecting.
This ring leader, intrinsically steamy and tumultuous, with feelings that bubble dangerously hot and close to the surface, and hands that tremble when angry; conversely, perfectionistic, infinitely caring, intellectual, painfully sensitive, and intensely private. I was not meant to bridle my Jungian shadow so publicly and ride it for the benefit of an audience to inspire them to do the right thing and provide my children with what they need; I was not meant to do that as much as I was meant to bask in the glow of a Mac in the dark hours of the night, rather than dive deep into the alternate universe of a novel.
I’ve worked hard to suffuse the steadfastness this life required of me; but, it always chaffed like the rubbing of an ill fitting shoe. Unnatural, like the blue glow of the screen that gave way to the silvery natural light leaking in from the window; I never did quite managed the appropriate performer’s facade. I was harried and pressured, fierce and determined, raw and primal, and, perhaps, a little frightening of a spectacle.
Typing the innumerable emails of the day to address the latest crises was stifling. And yet as unnatural as it felt I knew it was exactly what I was meant to do; and I knew as painful and public as it was (and it was going to be forever more) I was made to lead this circus. I have learned to accept I am just the right mix of ferocity and docility (perhaps I am still working on taming the ferocity).
I paused my typing and as my fingers were silenced the subtle sounds of children’s sleep sighs made it to my ears; I decided to hit send. The remainder of crises could wait another day. Left over lullabies called me up the stairs and like the sounds from the pied piper I followed them into my bed surrounded by my family. Exactly where I was meant to be.