My mini-van zooms down the highway as I look to the side and sporadically see blurred flashes of piled up debris near the road. If you look closely there are pieces of furniture and slabs of drywall and copious remnants of wood. I am passing by areas of South Texas that were flooded during Hurricane Harvey. I take a deep breath and think about all those pieces of buildings and belongings, and how they were once in someone’s home or office. Now considered junk, where will it all go? I notice the make-shift landfill in an open field as I quickly pass. So much trash, so much waste.
I relate those lofty piles to my mental debris. Stacks of moldy thoughts, some so old I wish they would spontaneously combust. But instead, as time goes on the pile grows larger. Some of them are also trash, but even so, I continue to revisit them over and over. Overcoming past hurts, even as far back as childhood, takes time. Or more counseling than I have had so far.
My travels take me from my new home to the old one. From the place where I am a parent, an employee and a community giver, to the place where all my beginnings began. From the place where I put food on their plates, fold their laundry and cheer them on from the sidelines, to the place where my parents did all the same for me, decades ago. And the memories are mostly good but some still sting at my brain like tiny, annoying mosquitoes. I am “stung” by a scent, a room or even a face. A face that has changed over the years but remains timeless in my mind.
If I walked the same roads which I drive, I know I would see things very differently. I would have to tread over glass and torn up pieces of tires. Weeds and pieces of cement. Dirt and discarded fast food wrappers. I would rather zoom past and not take such a close look. Walking also gives me time to see more, to take in each step and mile, good or bad. Only thing is, I would never make it if I walked. Perhaps that is what I do with these thoughts and memories – I put them in a fast-moving car and hit the gas pedal and just GO. This way, I can get to the final destination safely.
Because again, if I stopped to hone in on each one, I might just go crazy.
Instead of conjuring times of yelling and frustration or of seeing my mother cry, in my mind’s eye, I choose to see trips to the beach and dancing at wedding receptions. I file through snapshots of watching and laughing at an 80’s t.v. show together, or having my father toss me from his strong arms into the chlorine-filled neighborhood pool. Just like now as a divorced, single mother, I choose to remember the good times their father and I had. When we did love each other the best way our young hearts knew how. And when the babies were born. When I rocked each one to sleep without either one of us crying. When they made me belly laugh from some cute thing they did. When they hug me now and say, “Mom, I love you.”
I gingerly step over and away from the broken, discarded pieces. Because they only cause more of a fault line in my heart. Each one a tiny earthquake. The past is in the past but that does not mean it will not come back to impact the present or the future. It is never over when it repeats in your mind, again and again.
However, I suppose it is time to sift through the pile and see what I can get rid of forever. Because if I cannot use it for good, it really has no use at all. Perhaps I should just pretend that there has been a flood and let it all wash away…