I’m looking for something in a women’s nine. Something heavy. With a heel, definitely. Something significant. I’ll know it when I see it. No, heavier, like a candlestick. Or a wrench. You know, they’re just coming back into style right now. Something blunt. Steel toed. I gotta be able to protect myself. Something that says, “Don’t fuck with me”.
We’ve been dating for two months, give or take. Okay, take. Because he’s been giving, and giving, and giving, and he keeps giving, and he gives some more. And if he were here right now I’d point out that I lifted that last line from Steve Martin’s ‘Let’s Get Small’ album, and then we’d listen to it together, and he’d smile and treat me as if I’m a normal human being, he’d say something nice and we’d probably listen to some other album, maybe one of the records he bought me on our first date two months ago and I’d feel like a normal happy person.
It’s okay to feel happy, did you know this? People who call themselves Nazis are marching in Berkeley and it’s also okay to occasionally feel happy. I just thought I’d let you know, because I wasn’t sure if everyone was aware.
I’m not used to being happy in a relationship. I know how to be guarded and suspicious and wary, and I know how to be defensive and on the alert and nervous, and I know how to be withdrawn and resentful and regretful, and I know how to look for escape routes and set up safe houses and scatter supplies ahead on the trail. But I’m not really that experienced when it comes to enjoying and doing the thing I’ve always wanted to do which is to see and be seen and grow and connect and love.
So that’s why I’m looking for this shoe, this very particular shoe. He mentioned that he was also looking for a shoe, or I guess waiting for one to drop, but that it wasn’t dropping, he couldn’t find it, and that’s when I realized that I was looking for a shoe, too. I’m really good at finding things, though, so I kept looking for it until I found it. The other morning. At his place.
We were having morning time, you know, waking and cuddling and laughing, and then he said a thing.
And I laughed.
But I decided that the thing he said was the shoe, the blunt object, the thing that always happens, the thing I’m always on the lookout for, the meanness, the attack, the judgement.
I decided that I had found the shoe, and I dropped it and when I dropped it, it landed on my toe and I said “ouch” and I knew enough at that time to know that it wasn’t his fault - I knew that I had made that shoe materialize and I had dropped it on my own toe and I knew it was all my stuff.
But you know how when you stub your toe, or knock your head into a metal thing under the sink, that’s all you can feel? You know how pain works, right? It changes the brain so that the brain and the pain work together to cook up a story that makes sense, that explains the pain, because that’s how pain works, it demands a ‘why’, it demands an explanation, it demands someone or something to take the blame and so we have people who call themselves Nazis marching in Berkeley and we have some angry guy in Trader Joe’s chanting “Trump! Trump! Trump!” and I have this splitting headache all of a sudden and my brain goes, “Yeah, here’s that shoe you wanted, size nine. Let me just lace that up for you, walk around, see how it fits. Perfect, isn’t it? Just what you were looking for. Just like all the shoes you’ve had in the past, isn’t it?”
I don’t know a lot about nice guys. I’m not used to being loved by them. I’m used to Colonel Mustard with the shoehorn in the abattoir.
And so I made up something, something to explain the pain. I think I made up the pain, too. I’m very creative. Vivid imagination.
And now I’m the one making amends. And the only way I can do it is to stop looking for shoes.
I’m at the place now where all I have to do is meditate on the feeling of my eyes,
My wrung dry eyes,
Stinging, starving… no, thirsting,
Small and dense and red in their sockets,
Zinging me from the retina back into the optic nerve,
Crunchy dry, dry like a sponge scraping along the edge of a knife,
All I have to do is meditate on the feeling of my eyes,
Not even the story of how they got like this,
Not even the old story of how many years I’ve cried because of you,
Not even the old sad story of how much it hurt, hurts still,
I don’t even have to replay a single word of any of that,
Because all I have to do is just tune in to that feeling in my eyes,
Which just won’t stop leaking today
Because I can’t stop feeling that red raw feeling in my eyes today,
And I’m sorry, by the way, I’m sorry about all that,
But I don’t want to talk to you about it,
Because I don’t want to talk about it,
Because I don’t want to talk to you,
Because I don’t want to listen to you,
Because you never listen to me anyway,
But I’m still sorry about all of that,
And I’m still crying,
But not about that,
Not about anything,
I’m crying the cry of after having gone over all of it in my mind,
And still not being able to find my way out of this maze,
I’m crying the cry you cry AFTER you’re cried out,
That cry of, my God it just hurts here,
It just hurts still,
And I do want to feel my eyes, because they’re my eyes, guys,
But I don’t want to feel them at all at the same time,
And I push them away like I pushed you away,
Over and over and over again,
But what happens when I push my eyes away is they’re just still here,
And they just still hurt,
And I’m still in this maze, with this sponge and this knife,
And I’ll just sit here and meditate on my eyes,
And let this cry wet them again, from the inside out,
And maybe this cry will be the one that will finally let me see.
Sarah Elovich is a writer, performer and humorist based in Oakland, CA.