Wednesday, August 03, 2005
The Human Stain
A fault, especially a moral weakness.
n 1: the state of being weak in health or body.
Shoulda. Woulda. Coulda.
The trilogy of bullshit phrases which separates us from them. All part of the masquerade that if placed in any situation regardless of the circumstances, you'd be sure to make the correct decision...because you know better! It's always fun being an armchair quarterback because there's never a false step. Never a miscue. Never a lapse in judgment because that's not an option for someone with their head on right. Right?
It makes perfect sense to me and I'm guilty as charged for being critical as shit. Can't slip a damn thing past me because I'll scrutinize with the subtlety of a sledgehammer and rationalize my way out of why this couldn't happen to me. Always well equipped with an eye roll on the quick draw and prepared to contend a passionate closing argument that any district attorney would pay to have the Cliff Notes of. These preconceived notions all came to a head during a sun-drenched, hazy Sunday afternoon on an island getaway.
I was ready to hit the beach one last time and finally put 2 + 2 together to figure out our resort was providing the floats to all guests free of charge for usage. So I got the made-for-toddlers inner tube while my mom chose the inflatable raft. Neither of us are experts at the butterfly medley, but I figured as long as we stayed in our radius lane, we could pretend to be synchronized swimmers near the shore. Frolicking in warm, teal colored waters is an easy way to lower your defenses and sooner than you could hum Rock The Boat, I was leaning way back, just coasting along on my own. I was keeping my eye on my mom periodically and reigning her in by the pinky toe once she strayed out of the comfort zone. Eventually those check-ups slowed to a crawl once we both got comfortable.
"Come over here!!!"
I turned to my right to see my mom straying further and further out to sea...the waves were lazy, but deceptive all the same since when you'd least expect it – a current would take you in an opposite direction. I began to head over to where she was, but then the sand seemed to evaporate under my feet. I felt nothing but deep blues enveloping me on all sides and I couldn't move forward without feeling like becoming submerged wasn't a possibility, but a verdict. C'mon, get there goddammit! YOU HAVE TO TRY!
Panic set in and it was mirrored on my mother's face. I wanted to let my instincts and pure adrenaline take over. Fight or flight. Bottom of the 9th, 2 on, 2 out. What are you gonna do? The urgency didn't transmit to my calves which were frozen still and no longer fluttering with the speed of hummingbird's wings behind me. I couldn't budge an inch because I didn't know what to do.
Her arms flailed. Hysteria spread like an outbreak and the raft which was her airy chaise lounge turned into a death trap and she wanted OUT. A tumble into the ocean. Furious splashes. Gasps for air. A frenzy to keep her head above water while trying to breathe.
I managed to choke out a yell for assistance to a man nearby less than 10 yards away with his girlfriend. He darted towards my mother with the precision of a stealth bomber. Calm, steady, he carried her over his shoulder and got her back on dry land. She racked hollow coughs filled with mucus and salt water from her chest. Face, hair, arms and legs were coated with shells and debris as she struggled to gain her bearing.
I couldn't look her in the eye. Just wanted to stick my head in the sand to pretend like none of this had transpired. For a brief moment, I could see the disappointment flash in her irises as our fun was rudely cut in by this abrupt interruption. I hugged her and quietly sobbed profuse apologies. It wasn't enough. I tried in vain anyway. Never before had I felt like such a failure. My daughter duties were now renounced because I couldn't find a way to be the hero and save the day.
I don't fully understand why comfort would come so naturally from her at such an emotional time, but she hugged me back and communicated silently that all was forgiven. She understood. It wasn't the stuff of comic books, this was real life.
For once the imperfections of being flawed didn't seem second string. Being a mere mortal doesn't only entail fucking up in the clutch, but finding the heart to console those who for whatever reason can't find the strength to be the idealized perception of what's expected at a moment's notice.
Beautifully human with scars, warts and all. Welcome to the big leagues, kid.
- Midlife Crisis commented at 8/04/2005 12:55:00 PM~
I loved the honesty and insight of this post. I even love the title. Thank you for giving a little back to us weary soldiers. Whenever someone forgives themselves for their human-ness, the rest of us have a brief moment to exhale also.
To use your words, "Welcome to the big leagues, kid."
- TriniPrincess commented at 8/04/2005 03:47:00 PM~
Thank YOU sistah for those inspiring words. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be automatic when it comes to right and wrong...it's a welcome relief when things wind up left of the middle.
- ghettogeisha commented at 8/04/2005 03:49:00 PM~
Welcome back. Whether you realize it or not you are a hero. To me and the other readers of your blogspot. As midlife crisis mentions before me, the honesty and insight of not just this post, but of all your postings is worthy of praise and admiration. Reading your posts each day inspires me to dig deeper and work harder at my own writing. Thank you for always raising the bar and keeping it high.
- TriniPrincess commented at 8/04/2005 06:00:00 PM~
ghettogeisha, I'm humbled by your vote of kudos. Thank you for the support and continue to let your own words come from your heart. It'll never steer you wrong once it's your truth.
- Will commented at 8/04/2005 08:35:00 PM~
Wow... this post is what writing is all about. The sharing of things that don't always put us in the best light... that's what keeping it real is alll about. I'm so glad your mom is fine... and that you've used this forum to air it out.
Keep sharing, Black Woman!!! Keep sharing...
- TriniPrincess commented at 8/05/2005 02:10:00 AM~
Hey Will :o)
I was really hesitant to put this episode of vulnerability out there...the stoic sistah syndrome is a bitch to shake loose, but this small step was freeing all the same. Good looking out.
- Butta commented at 8/05/2005 04:26:00 AM~
Thank you for sharing this, Trini. I'm glad that your mom is all right and that you could write about this with such realness. Having been in a similar scary situation recently and feeling helpless as my inner Superwoman left the building, I understand what you must have gone through. Thank God for our angels.
- TriniPrincess commented at 8/05/2005 10:59:00 AM~
We are *so* here, ITA to the fullest.
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