I had a reminder today, of that feeling of being young, and being at the pool, and (oh man, in hindsight how ungrateful I was) that feeling when your parent puts sunblock on you. If you’ve never experienced this, I am so sorry, you probably have a lot of trauma you need to work through. Are you in therapy? Well hey, I got sun-blocked, and still have trauma...but I bet yours is worse.
I was at the pool today, watching so many parents making sure their children were safe, and the mundane love that was there between parent and child took me right back to being nine again. Life has really been squeezing my balls lately, so to see that carefree kind of love was a refreshing reminder in my body of what it felt like to just be taken care of.
I remember on my ninth birthday, my mom took me to the pool with my friends, and she sat behind me, and she rubbed sunblock onto the tops of my ears, in utterly comfortable silence. We swam all day long; actually it was about two hours, but time is different when you’re young. Oh gosh, and that whole other sense of comfort when you get out of the pool and the wind hits, and you’re shivering, but there they are, a parental figure holding out the towel to wrap you up in. I wouldn’t want to be young again, but that really was the good stuff.
So, after swimming we did as some people do for birthdays, we went back home to do the birthday things. My mom handed me a huge piece of chocolate cake (it was honestly so much cake, what was she thinking?) while she talked to another parent about how Debra was a real “B.I.T.C.H.” as if I didn’t know how to spell or something. I guess she had been getting away with cussing in front of me using that tactic for so many years, it was a hard habit to break. I’ll always remember the weirdest thing, cake in hand, I saw this weird blur. It looked like maybe one of the other kids was riding a dog, but the dog was moving so fast...I must have gotten too much sun, sunblock or not. That first bite of cake was enough to take my mind off of it pretty quickly.
“Oh my god, I know! The other day, she put a rock in my hand, rose warts or something, and she said, “I hope you can love yourself to the capacity you deserve.” Debra is such a B.I.T.C.H.” Gemma looked down at her hands, holding a plate of chocolate cake. She looked up at her mom, because she had suddenly lost about a foot in height. She even wondered for a second if she was sitting down, even though she could feel gravity pulling at her body the only way it pulls when standing. She had been taller than her mom since she was thirteen, something she took great pride in for no good reason at all. It’s not like she worked for it. “Ummm, hmm, what, what the actual fuck? Why am I so short? Why is there cake in my hands? Did I fall asleep? Ow, okay pinching yourself doesn’t always work I guess. What WAS that? Nothing in the world moves that fast. Alright, maybe I’ve really gotten much too much sun today?”
Gemma was suddenly nine again, reliving the moments she was so fondly reminiscing. Of course she was shocked, but it was also incredibly comforting. Assuming it was probably just some very vivid dream (because that’s what we all do when things get all Twilight Zone-y) she submitted to enjoying such a well curated dream, and took a bite of her cake.
“Oh my god, I know, the other day, she put a rock in my hand, rose warts or something, and she said, “I hope you can love yourself to the capacity you deserve.” Debra is such a B.I.T.C.H.” She didn’t even get to chew before she was looped back to the same exact spot, being handed her cake, for the third time in her life now. While she was confused, she also had enough clarity to focus her eyes where she had seen that blur zoom by, something that seemed so insignificant, but also stuck with her for so many years. And there it was; since she knew it was coming she was able to anticipate its quickness, and was able to actually make out a form. What it actually looked like was something with wings, riding something with wings. Her quickness to accept what was happening, and simply be curious surprised even her. All she could think was, “If I had wings, I doubt I’d need a ride.” And she took a bite of her cake.
“Debra is such a B.I.T.C.H.” At this point, Gemma just sighed, took her plate of cake, and focused her eyes again to the spot where the blur was, hoping to get an even better look at the notorious blur that, when she thought about it, always made her feel a bit out of time. She stared at the spot, nothing happened. Her mind began to reel with questions, “Where did it go? Did that ever even happen?” Out of stress, she started to take a bite of the never ending chocolate cake.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, not unless you want to start over again, personally, if I have to hear your mom spell the word bitch again, I might have to do something drastic. I sure don’t know what that drastic thing would be, but definitely drastic, ha, I did that thing, I’ve said “drastic” so many times now, it doesn’t really make sense anymore.” His voice was raspy, he talked fast, and when he spoke, Gemma felt like her ears had popped. Gemma turned her head to look under the table where the cake was sitting, and under it, hiding like a child afraid of noise, was a small man, wearing a crown. His hands and feet were way too big for his body, like Mickey Rourke hands on a child, and long nails and toenails that were claws for sure, but oddly well manicured. He was sitting on top of an ugly, beautiful creature that looked like the spawn of a dragon and a bull, “Poor bull,” Gemma thought to herself.
They both stared at each other, unblinking, for what felt like days. Taken aback by how cavalier this creature was about, well, just existing generally, all she could do was stare, and wonder why he felt so familiar to her. He looked at her as though he could feel everything she was feeling, and with a tilt in his eye that looked like pity. He crawled out from under the table, stood up on the back of his chimaera, reeeeached, and used his lovely talon to tap her right in her third eye, and he said, “Remember.” She felt it open, then was seeing memories of them together, playing in her mind like a movie, more like a montage. Queue the song you’d play if you started to remember that you had a demon when you were young, and you manipulated time together. Personally, I’d go with “Time Warp'' from Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Memories flooded in, of her and Astaroth sneaking around time. When she was eight, she knew that when she was 26, she’d get broken up with, lose the job she hated, and end up right here, right now. She also knew that all of that pain she’d go through, was strong enough to bring her closer to her own heart, so she could end up right here, right now. All so she could be reminded that she is held in this world, so she could be reminded that she loved to paint, and that the dumb idiot that broke up with her only left her because he had gotten what he wanted from her. Her wings. Eight year old Gemma also knew that she could grow them back. All she had to do was everything that excited her.
She opened her eyes, and she was 26 again, her ninth birthday was still surrounding her, paused. She looked at Astaroth with love and appreciation. A childhood friend had come to the rescue. The only question Gemma was able to pull from the many swirling around in her noggin was, “Do you want some cake?”