Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sometimes I am nostalgic for the fear, feeling like I missed my chance to be afraid out loud of things that were tangible. And so now it's easier to be afraid in retrospect, to say, "I was afraid then because he was on smack and wouldn't stop hitting her" rather than, "I am afraid now because in ten years I might turn into the punchline of a joke I'd tell today." In trying to be brave and quiet and not make waves I completely lost the opportunity to admit to feeling something other than fine.

Which isn't to say that I miss the years themselves, miss clutching my birdlike bones together so that no one could hear them clattering against each other, because I don't. There is a comfort in being sad sometimes rather than scared all the time, and the relief that comes from the middle-class blandness of a visiting mild depression is something that few can understand. And it's only when I tell the stories, when I talk about being frightened and hungry and huddled in the closet of a trailer full of shouting that I remember what a luxury the distance is.

But the nostalgia is there, the quick longing for the stark blankness of terror. Being a child is easier than being a grownup, even if it's being a child in the dark corners and dank recesses. It's easier when the bogeymen are real than it is when they're you.

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