'what's the things they never showed you'
There's a church I pass on my way to and from work that I'm quite fond of. It's old and remote and you know immediately that it's a place that struggles to maintain itself, but does, and quite well. Every time I pass it, I wish I had a camera with me to capture the things I see around it. Flowers in the spring. Hand lettered signs advertising bake sales and chicken dinners. Congregants selling fresh corn from the back of trucks. Cats sleeping on the concrete stoop. Never more have I wished I had my camera than yesterday when I noticed two red balloons, bound together and tethered by ribbon in the branches of a tall, bare tree.
I thought about those balloons all day while I was at work, vowing to stop on my way home and capture them, even if it meant using my crappy cell phone camera to do so. I thought it would be a great photo, even if only I saw it. The more I thought about those balloons, though, the more I thought how very much they represent the state of my marriage right now. My husband and I are like two balloons stuck in the spindly branches of a barren tree. There's still a little life in each of us, but we're stuck in something that, while not quite dead, looks like it from the outside.
The thing about balloons is you never know quite when they're going to wither away to nothing and become garbage or when they might explode from the pressure exerted upon it. Right now, I feel like both aspects of such a balloon. I want to rage and scream and explode while at the same time bide my time until I simply wither up and become a wrinkled shell of what I once was, which was full of life and joy and possibility.
It's exhausting pretending to be happy all the time. I'm exhausted all the time. I'm too tired to cry. I'm too tired to scream. I'm too tired to talk. I spend 8 to 10 hours a day attempting to convince people - friends, family, strangers - that I am so very fine, absolutely wonderful, how are you? - that I can't be anything else when I get behind my own doors and left alone with my thoughts. My body aches from holding itself up. My hands ache after uncurling them from the fists I've realized they're in. My mind never seems to shut down because it's filled with thoughts and words I want to scream.
The other thing about balloons, I thought, is one of the pair stuck in that tree could break free and float away, miles and miles and miles away from the other. I'm not sure yet if my husband and I are like those balloons, and, like I said, I'm just too damn tired, too damn over-emotional to think about it, so for now, right now and for so long before now, we're stuck. Tied together, bound by knots, and stuck. Just like the balloons trapped in the branches of a tree in the church yard.
To everyone who has read, commented, or sent me an email - thank you. Also, I'm sorry for not yet getting back to any of you. It's that exhausting thing. That pretending I'm OK thing. I'm still going to try, but until then, I just want to say thank you.