When I was little my birthday parties were a really big deal. I guess they are to all little kids. But one year I was really sick on the day of my birthday party. I was acting real rowdy and I was going around showing off my English language skills by cussing out the other little kids, calling them assholes and whatnot. My mom dragged me into her bedroom and started yelling at me and shaking me. She had grown very animated (with anger) and she kept asking me why I was being like that. She was super frustrated because I was generally a kid who acted up a lot. Jeez, mom, I wonder what it could have been? The war? The revolution? The constant intercontinental moving? The paternal abandonment? The physical abuse? The neglect? Hmmmm, I wonder what it could have been?
I stood there, taking the abuse. What else could I do? I was just a kid so I couldn’t really articulate my feelings yet.
Suddenly she stopped with all her hysterics and put her hand on my forehead. I was burning up with fever. I was sick a lot when I was a kid. My poor little body had a lot of stress to burn through all the time. I don’t remember dancing very much at this party. I was cantankerous and moody, my dark shadowy parts already quite flexible for such a young ‘un. “Grrrrrr,” my little monsters growled, eyes slanted, hairs standing up.
This was the beginning of a sickness that lasted a long time. My fever simply wouldn’t go down. My mom put me in her own bed in her own room and I swam around in a crazy fever for days. My mom had this giant life-sized poster of Charlie Chaplin on her wall and I would watch him do his weird walk all day—in my fever I was hallucinating up a storm, laughing weirdly and talking to myself. Although that wasn’t so unusual. I spent a lot of time on my own and learned how to keep myself entertained.
At one point I looked over at my mom. She was standing in front of her mirror, wiping tears away from her eyes. I guess it looked pretty bad, like I was going to die or something. Maybe that’s when I decided not to die even though dying would have been so much easier. She didn’t look like she would be able to handle it very well.
Motherhood is a cantankerous creed. I don’t know why so many people go for it. I knew from very early childhood that it wasn’t for me. Not the literal motherhood thing, anyway. For me, only sideways motherhood would do. Which is to say, watching other people struggle under the intense weight of responsibility and fear. I have a dog and my art. I don’t feel an inner need for baby-ness.
When I learned about the goddess Artemis is when I finally understood myself. She led the dances on Mount Olympus, incidentally. I wonder if it was her extreme solitude and extreme virginity that made her such a good leader of the dance. She didn’t have a ton of babies and husbands and riches and houses and jobs and other heavy stuff dragging her down and distracting her from the lightness and freedom of the divine dance. My own mood is quite cantankerous today—I don’t feel too chummy towards worldly affairs and the people who seem so hopelessly attached to them. If that is you, I apologize. But you must admit, it would be nice to have two minutes of peace and quiet for yourself now and then, right?
Sometimes we think we have to blend in and be like everyone else in order to be loved, in order to get approval and approbation, even in order to survive. But no, that is most grievously wrong. Each of us has a certain very specific space we must inhabit and that space is what lets us create the things we need to create in the world. My need for extreme solitude is a condition of my soul without which I couldn’t lead the dance or make my art or freely love my fellow man.
What is the condition of your soul without which you couldn’t be who you are meant to be?
That is the question!
I say madness is too pure like mother sky.
Tell me what’s the price of your life.