G_d said to Abraham, kill your wife’s only child, your precious son. Of course, Abraham gets all the glory – a trip up Mount Moriah, hand stayed at the last minute, a ram caught in bushes to take the sacrificial blow instead, while nobody spares a thought for Sarah waiting at home to see if her husband had sacrificed her only son to a very unreasonable all-powerful alien force. This invisible burden of waiting, of putting one foot in front of the other, of carrying on while men do insanely destructive things is a uniquely female burden.
The curse of having to put one foot in front of the other, hold the world together in your hands, while it is falling to pieces like so much dry sand through your fingers, is not uniquely mine, yet it know it better than many. The world bullies women, as if somehow it can punish us collectively for Eve’s curiosity. The blindly obedient male, playing at being the victim of women, and the curiouser and curiouser female, wondering if she can understand more, understand better, become more than the sum of her own ignorance, is certainly a seductive concept to latch onto, sucking the milk of feminine endeavor like a hungry baby knowing only hunger and pleasure and pain and none of shades that lay in between.
Like it or not, it is the lot of women to be bullied, for the world and the systems of men to crush her inquisitive nature under the bootheel and then demand both answers and total culpability from her. You see it all the time in the accursed ‘comment sections’ of various disgusting publications. Man kills woman and children. Woman gets blamed for marrying him in the first place. Daughter kills newborn baby – the chattering male-hypnotized masses demand the mother go to jail too. For what crime? Being a woman and not stopping disaster from occurring. The Hague convention both demands mothers protect their children from abusive men, and also that they do not escape them or protect the children without punishment. It is the classic rock and a hard place. I am a rebellious Eve. I simply refuse to play ball with any of it.
My spiritual side cowers in the shining face of the ultimate male – Adonai Himself, yet I am only ever partly compliant, however much I long for spiritual sustenance. I wonder when women will cease to be punished for our intellectual curiosity and independent nature. I wonder when it will be enough pain and suffering to satisfy Daddy Dearest, and his appetite for punishment. I wonder when men will realize that this madwoman has had enough of their games of control, punishment and coercion.
I won’t be bullied any longer. Oh those days still continue when I have to put one foot in front of the other. Then the other foot in front of that…then repeat, moving, inching slowly forward. I have dragged my body broken slowly forward, shielding my babies, hauling things so physically and psychically heavy that it is an impossible weight, yet still I carried it, fueled by love and devotion. I have kept moving forward through unbearable losses and terrible threats.
I kept going through mechanical breakdowns, police take downs, road winds on, fire burn ups, political stitch-ups, relationship fuck-ups, campground hold ups. Oh I kept going through Tokyo summer dropping like a spoonful of batter onto a hot griddle, baking bubbles into my brain. I kept going through temper tantrums, nuclear fucking melt-downs in Fukushima, earthquake shake-downs. I kept going beaten. I kept going broken. I kept going in labor. I kept going when my body finally had enough. I keep going despite the doctors refusing pain relief. I keep going when the chemo proves impossible and the alternative option is grueling to say the least. One foot in front of the other like my sisters before me, and no one saying “I’d like to thank you Joan of Arc for treating me so well.”
I feel a sigh rising from the arches of my feet to the top of my skull. It starts with a shudder and ends with a shake.
It is the notion of the next forbidden fruit to chew, the next hill to look out from, the next mountain to watch slide into place on a new horizon, that has kept me going. It is the strange realization that I am more needed than reviled, more loved than discarded.
I need a friend. I need someone to talk Warren Zevon with. I need someone to boost my saddened defenses and help me mend some fences that the medicine have broken down in my saturated brain. I need a friend to hold my hand and sit in Café Vesuvio with, forgiving me the fact that I can only drink soft drinks because some silly girl that used to be me, drank so much she used up all her tickets to the ethanol parade. Surely there is someone out there who would sit and talk with me on some San Franciscan day. Perhaps not. Perhaps those days have gone, and I am simply too old and sick to be anything other than pitied. What a terrible thought!
One foot in front of the other, keep on going and I might just reach Zion…or is it Moriah? Who knows. I don’t care really. I just need to change my perspective before I feel that itch of curiosity, baked into my Eve-bones by genetic default. Have I been punished enough for not complying yet? Am I free to wander? It is bad knowledge, a green apple from a crabtree that I have been chewing on. It poisoned my life and opened my mind and I would not have it any other way.
Selah. The birds are singing. I do not think they sing for me, but in spite of me. The song they sing is ‘One Foot In Front of the Other’. They mock me with their feathered freedom. Perhaps I can tame them and persuade them to peck at my chains and free me from my expectations of sadness. I hope so. All of this has been too much to bear alone.
The Boy sits reading a book on the sofa. He kisses me on the cheek and makes me tea by the bucketload. He is worth it. I carried him across continents and each single footfall was my privilege to take. I hope he remembers me well, and all those imperfect days that we share in this broken old world run by the cruel and the strict and controlling. I hope I taught him how to fly before this nest explodes in a scattering of lives and loves and memories of one foot in front of the other. I am tired now. I need to sleep, but sleep is such a waste of such limited time.