Though I appreciate the kind words, they make me uncomfortable. Compassionate, yes. Emotional, yes. Heart wide open, of course. But, nice? Nice is a curse, a burden to carry, day-in and day-out, I am nice.
Until I am not.
I tend to find myself deep in thought around water…next to the sea is the best place to ponder, but it happens to me even near a running tap. In the shower, I have splendid ideas for the “perfect” existence…epiphanies, I think they call these. Washing the dishes is where I tend to dredge up my darkest demons. Rubber-gloved and rinsing grease-soaked suds down the drain makes me remember things that make me angry, times when I was wronged, or worse, times when I wronged. Folding warm laundry next to chugging and gushing washing machines, raises question marks. Big giant looming question marks.
This morning’s question: “How DO you let these things happen?”
You see, in being such a “nice girl”, I do my best to be just that. I look out for, and look after, others. I tirelessly care more about what other people think of me than what I think of myself. I smile like an angel, and never let them see the sparkle drain from my eyes. Except…the mean streak has to come out at some point, doesn’t it? I mean everyone has one, don’t they? For me these show up, albeit rarely, in the most spectacularly, uncharacteristically, bad-ass dose of “I-don’t-care”. At these times, if my soul could cackle, I’m sure it would.
This morning next to the waft of fabric softener, I remembered one such episode at a little neighbor girl’s birthday party, circa 1976. I have seen pictures of myself at these parties. Pink-cheeked, cherubic, and as sweet and delicate as a mini-cupcake. I also remember the dread feeling; being terrified of doing or saying the wrong thing, of feeling like I never really “fit” with all the noise, hoopla and societal pressure to “celebrate”. And so, at four years of age, I ushered in my first remembered instance of “I don’t feel like being nice today.” At a party where unlimited hot dogs were being served, I very firmly insisted that I did NOT like hot dogs…more specifically, that they made me sick. A TOTAL lie. And this in the day when nobody but nobody had “food allergies”. I sat resolute, in my braids and red plaid dress, and uttered my distaste until the poor frazzled mother presented me with an egg salad sandwich, made especially for me. On white bread no less. Yay me! I felt strangely satisfied in how I had played this little game…that is, until word got back to my mother.
“Why did you DO that, you terrible child? Why did you LIE?!” Oh, the head-hanging shame. Why did I, indeed? How DO I let these things happen?
Who knows. And if “who” does know, I wish he’d fill me in. Just as suddenly as it comes on, the whole madness passes, like a thundering hail storm in August. The sun comes out, the niceness returns, and life as it were goes on. I’m back to giving you all of my heart, and smiling at you with all of my soul. All is forgiven and forgotten…that is, until the next time that I wash the dishes.
“Do I detect a look of disapproval in your eye? Tough beans buddy, ’cause that’s the way it’s gonna be.” - Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany’s