I haven’t been to a play party in about three weeks, and have been away from San Francisco since Friday.
Coming home this time is different than it was in June. The finality and the sadness of the last visit isn’t there. I have enough time to decompress, spend time with my family and friends, and visit all of my old haunts.
There is the seashore of course, the local mall, the city, my home with its wooded backyard and crickets that ease me to sleep at night. There is also a very strange cemetery my best friend at the time and I would visit as teenagers.
It is around the block and down the street from my home, directly across from the entrance to my high school (I hated high school, so it seemed oddly fitting at the time). Aesthetically, I loved it. The stones were old, the last one laid there the year that I was born, and largely forgotten. The entire cemetery was Jewish, except for this small Dutch section in the back. My town was founded by Dutch immigrants in the 1800’s, and the only stone still visible reads from 1864. The others are too dilapidated to read anything, and too overgrown by ivy and other plant life to even resemble stones anymore. They, along with the newer Jewish stones (clustered with groups taken from Scarlet Fever epidemics in 1912 and ’14, as well as World War 2 casualties) watch generations of youth pass by the silent gates, few paying them any mind as time passes.
Well, I suppose I was one of the few. This place, as a youth, was where I did all my great thinking.
There is one tombstone I always visit. Aaron, a little 12 year old boy taken by Scarlet Fever in 1912. His stone is flat on the ground, and often was overgrown when I got there. I would clean it, sit on the crumbling wall beside his stone, and we would talk. Or, I would talk to him. I would mention the feelings of claustrophobia, trapped in a place I never felt like I belonged. I would talk about dreams of college, of great things, of leaving Hawthorne in the dust and never returning.
As I aged and entered college, giving me the freedom to actually live away from home, visiting the cemetery became a comfort of constants. The stones were always there, with names I began to recognize as time went on, still and silent but not at the same time. Even as distance separated my old friend and I, she and I would return to the graveyard on weekend when I came home, and we would traverse the stones as we had in our youth. I would talk to Aaron about what I was seeing and doing, and would wonder what he would have become if he had seen past the age of 12.
My self in high school was…haunted. I think that’s why I took comfort in the cemetery. If I was haunted, I might as well hang out somewhere where there were ghosts. My friend had even more demons to battle. She was a cutter, a rather serious one, as well as suffering from major depressive disorder and other mental problems she was aware of but never diagnosed with. I was continually struggling with my weight and my self-worth, and had developed an eating disorder by high school (because no one ever suspects the fat chicks of being bulimic). I felt the judgment of my extended family and of my small town on a daily basis, and it felt like the only things I could but could not control would be my body.
I still have a love-hate relationship with food. I love to cook, especially for someone like Kane who truly appreciates it. I love family recipes and the social aspects of food. I love when my mother bakes chocolate croissants or sticky buns. I hate stepping on the scale after, of seeing the numbers go up and feeling my pants get tighter because I looked at an M&M. I still have my demons. It would be a lie to say they were gone. But I haven’t binged and purged since I was 20.
Dragon stopped cutting when she was 21. We are both 23 now, and still in touch from time to time even though neither approves of the other’s romantic relationship. I think she’s too codependent on her boyfriend of three years, and that happiness can not revolve around this “us against the world” ideal. She thinks that I need to be with someone closer to my own age, and that I’m too sex obsessed. We agree to disagree to keep the peace, but we have both grown from the 16 year old damaged souls that used to visit the old cemetery together.
Later this week, we will go back together. We will take photos together, in the cemetery, documenting where we are now vs where we were. Pausing at this transition time between young woman and full grown to see the progress we’ve made, and the women we’ve become both separately and together.
My mother told me when I graduated high school that by the time I was done with college I would no longer recognize myself. I would be an entirely different person. I didn’t believe her at the time. I was so sure of myself and my identity. I was a good girl, who was going to be a psychologist to make money and marry her high school sweetheart who didn’t care she was fat.
Well, my mother was right. I left that little girl behind a long time ago. I believe that I shed off the last layers of her just a few months ago, when I finally allowed myself the freedom to admit my submissive nature. To let myself be a sub, and serve, and know that there was nothing wrong with wanting to serve.
It is a fool’s errand to fall for a married man. To devote yourself to him is emotional suicide. To fall for him is death of the heart, and yet here I am, hopes blazing. Coming home has made me face my past, my demons, and to look for my future. I see Kane beside me as I visit these old haunts. I want show him. I feel like he belongs there, and I’m not ashamed to say it. There is only so much selflessness in me. Eventually the selfishness wins out.
My name is Rena. I am an artist from a microscopic town in New Jersey that I outgrew a long time ago, but still draw comfort from. I am in love with Kane. Hopelessly. Completely, Totally. And I see my future with him. I see us working in the studio together, pushing each other creatively. I see coming home and him meeting my family, being a part of my life here. And knowing that he sees it too… I don’t have words.
My parents know all the details about him, and the wife, and that life..and they like him still. They trust him with me, which is not something they could say about my previous boyfriends. They trust him with my heart, and watching our interactions see what I see.
If this ends in me being heartbroken it is completely worth it for the hope I feel now. Better this than dark oblivion. I have a man I adore, I worship, I serve willingly and freely, who fulfills me as much as I do him. I feel his love even from 3000 miles away, his support.
I hold my head higher as I walk through Hawthorne. Someone loves me. And I love them, and I can finally see a clear future forming, away from this place but a part of it at the same time.
I have quite a lot to catch Aaron up on. Some things never change.
Yours apologize for all the mush lately…still getting used to this whole “in love” thing…