Saturday, May 10, 2008

All Aboard

My train of thought should have a sentinel.

A conductor-cum-bouncer who checks the tickets of every arrival, making sure they've boarded the proper train. And at night, when the train prepares to shut down for the evening to make way for the Subconscious Express, this sentinel would silently walk the aisles, looking to eject any hangers-on, dislodging the nagging barnacles of memory.

You see... I am a dweller.

The tiniest injustice, insensitivity, or insignificant embarrassment that occurred within the 28 years of my existence can, at any moment, leap, unbidden, onto my train of thought and then staunchly refuse to depart.

It will sit, smugly, reading a newspaper--like the last customer in a restaurant who blithely ignores the stares of evil from the waitstaff, who want nothing more than to go home (or to the bar, whatever)--and it will not budge.

And each and every time that this occurs, I feel myself slowly begin to get just as worked up over the incident as I did 2 or 8 or 15 years ago when it occurred. My chest will constrict, my hands will involuntarily clench, and my mind will begin to race...

"I still can't believe they said that in front everybody..."

"Of course that's what it means! I am such an idiot!!"

"Why can't they ever understand that, to me, it just wasn't funny!?"

And on and on as my train of thought derails entirely and I am stuck in a fog of infinitesimal and insignificant regret.

For you see, these memories on which I dwell--these moments of anger or embarrassment or misunderstanding--are trifling at best. I am certain that any of the other parties involved in any one of these scenarios has no memory whatsoever of the event.

Unless, of course, that person is High School Boyfriend, who, if there were an Olympics of Dwelling, could certainly give me a run for my money.

But the others, those countless others who wend their way into my thoughts when my mind falls idle--I doubt they remember or ever even knew how embarrassed and angry I was when they alluded to my illicit encounter with a fellow counselor at an all-camp event; how my fists clenched and my throat tightened when the 13 year old girls in my bunk later asked "what was that all about?"; or the tears that stung the back of my eyelids when the oldest of my girls strode into the bunk, blazing fury, to say "that was so wrong, I can't believe they did that to you!"

These are the passengers that refused to disembark at their designated station half a decade ago. As more and more board the train and refuse to leave, my consciousness becomes cluttered with these meaner fellows--worthy matters crowded out by the refuse that dominates my midnight mind.

And each time these recollections surface and wreak their special breed of havoc on my peace of mind I ask myself... Why?? Why is it that I am unable to let go, let go and move on from what, in the grand scheme of my life, is trivial at best?

My inner psychoanalyst comes forward, pushing her wire-framed glasses higher on her nose, to say "Well Froggy, you have spent the better part of your life not dwelling on the most significant and, if you'll pardon the unprofessional phrasology, fucked up injustice you have ever suffered... perhaps your anger over this one larger event has been transferred onto these smaller events as a coping mechanism."

She smiles and retreats into the shadows, yet there are flaws in her theory. For the past year or so, said Grand Event has been struggling to the surface with ever increasing frequency and is slowly becoming a subject of just as much dwelling as his more insignificant cohorts. Why then, if dwelling on the trifling were a coping mechanism for past trauma, would the arrival of past trauma not bring about a reduction in these trifling resurgences?

Clearly, psychoanalyzing myself--while tempting--is nothing more than an exercise in circular logic.

But I wish I understood, what it is that traps my mind in these cages of past injustice, why I am incapable of letting go of these smallest of moments, why my chest can tighten and my breath shorten at the mere thought of something that occurred 8 years go.

I like to think I am at peace with my past. Why then, can't the past be at peace with me?


Hope said...


This was just so well-written and

I'd like to ask the past that very question myself.

Kass said...

I'm a dweller too, they always seem to pop up at the most unfortunate of times.

*le sigh*