The End of Innocence

I have been crafting a list of all the labels that have been put on me this week.

I least like “too intense” and “contradictive”.  The latter isn’t really a word, not in American English any way.  But it reminded me of the dreaded nursery rhyme which uses my first name.  “Mary, Mary, quite contrary”.  I get hives just thinking of the number of  boys who stumbled behind me shouting that poem.

The same person who said that I was too intense also expressed grave concern about my taking care of myself, so I found forgiveness easier than usual.  I get it; I’m too intense, so you want me to go away but you don’t want me to suffer or want for anything.

I sorted through all the condemnations, the categories, and the names, looking for good.  Even the judge who said I was “thorough” looked askance, as though I had caused too much trouble.  I remembered that she had appointed me; that I wouldn’t be paid for the case; and that my client had been molested by some unknown person.  I shrugged.  So sue me.

I’ve given up wondering if somebody, somewhere, assesses me as something other than the litany of failure that all their appellations seem to suggest.  But my innocence slides to the floor, like a satin slip in a soundless hotel room.  I won’t complain.  I’ve chosen most of my steps.  I set myself on this path.  I had to have known that my true character would eventually show through the clumsy facade, despite my best efforts.

I take my time stacking the index cards on which I’ve noted the ways in which others want me to change.  I wrap a band around them and shove them into a drawer.  I close it carefully, and walk away.  I’m not bold enough to toss them out, but I won’t leave them around to glare at me when I leave dishes in the sink or spend too much on groceries.

It’s evening, on the eighth day of the forty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.




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