I Survived

Some random first-world thoughts on the eve of yet another cross-country move, this time to Cancún.

I haven’t written much of anything since November 8, 2017. I have been in shock, stupefied, wordless (although I have spoken and thought many passionate words about the fate of the planet, of my country, of my children and their children, of so many people I love and things I value), in the wake of America’s supposedly voluntary choice of a madman to lead us. My exterior life hasn’t changed perceptibly since that fateful date, but my inner life is in chaos, with waking nightmares of glowering angry men and their zombie concubines sneering at my panicked semblance, smirking at my cowering impotence.

I woke up this morning wishing I could escape–check into a yoga camp and do mind-clearing meditation all day and night or turn myself in to an old folks’ home where I could learn crafts and chair yoga from sweet young things who cannot comprehend the life I have lived and the art exploding in my head–art which my undisciplined hands cannot shape into a coherent form, dance which my untrained body cannot express in coordinated movement. They cannot know that there are sweet young things like them still living inside their docile pupils.

Some of this panic is purely existential, and in the big picture, trivial. For a year, I have been trying to move myself and my household across the country, ever since my son’s work took him away from the cozy little nest we had feathered in homey Torreon, Mexico, for the past five years. I thought the news that he had found a place for all of us (me, himself, three friends, one cat and three dogs) in the far-away exotic city of Cancun would fill me with optimism. Instead, it made me feel uprooted, homeless, adrift, a feeling that will vanish in the rush of mandatory activity in the days ahead.

Early in March, on a long-anticipated and much-enjoyed trip to Guadalajara, I met up with a friend who willingly, even eagerly, listened to and understood my rambling thoughts and shared, in solidarity, some of her own. During that same trip, I reached a deeper level of understanding with the father of my children, from whom I have been divorced for a quarter of a century. This trip should have filled me with joy and optimism, and it did, but it is also the reason for my panic. I had to reckon with my own strength–the strength I have feared for the past thirty years, the strength which, in the end, means I have to stand alone much of the time. Strength is the end product of pressure between despair and the will to survive. You either give in to insane helplessness, willing your body to perish along with your mind and soul, or you survive. I survived.

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About Mary Ann Lesh

I grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas, attended Midwestern University, received a bachelor's degree in English, education, and journalism from Baylor University. I have a master of education degree and doctoral studies in Spanish literature from Texas Tech, with additional studies at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, Boston University, and the University of Texas at Dallas. I have been a teacher, university administrator, translator, interpreter, and secretary in Texas, Massachusetts, and Mexico. I am the mother of three, grandmother of seven. I am now retired in Torreón, Coahuila, México.
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