Hope is six years old.
“I hope I’ll get an ice cream cone today. I hope grandma doesn’t make me eat turnips. I hope I get a pony ride. I hope daddy will come back someday.”
Hope is a six year old in an woman’s body.
“I hope that if I’m very good, if I smile pretty and wear nice clothes, but I’m naughty in bed, he’ll leave her and be with me.”
The flip side of hope is despair.
Despair is Sylvia Plath readings at a coffee house. Despair is three quarters of a bottle of wine sitting in the bath when he leaves. Again.
Daddy never came back. Men never stay.
Faith is twelve years old.
“If I pray very hard every night to Jesus, he will bring me a new bike.”
Faith is a twelve year old in a woman’s body.
Faith is dating; another evening seated across from a man who has nothing to say, imagining a dress, a ring, another walk down the aisle. Faith is the rituals of coupling and couplehood well before harvest time, invoking an intimacy that could never take root in such shallow soil.
“Maybe if I pretend I like Enya and vacationing in a 36-foot-long gas guzzling motorhome, I can make this work. After all, he would never leave, he’s devoted to me.”
The flip side of faith is suspicion.
Suspicion is poison emails and text messages and a hot rage that burns bridges and destroys relationships. Distrust is finding a stray message and kicking him out at 11 pm, throwing his shoes out the window while your chest caves in.
“Fuck you then. You will never have another chance to hurt me, ever.”
Charity is eighteen years old.
“I’m staying in the school gym for 24 hours without eating anything … to raise money for the food bank.”
Charity is an eighteen year old in a woman’s body.
“Oh no, look what I’ve done. I can’t just leave him with blue balls can I? He’d be so upset if I said no right now.”
Charity changes nothing. Charity is stealing someone’s dignity with a handout. Charity is an endless feedback loop that teaches nothing and prolongs the misery.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t really love you; I didn’t mean for it to get this far.”
What is the flip side of charity, hope, faith: selfishness? No, charity IS self-serving. In reality, the flip side of charity is compassion. Wisdom. Letting go with love. It’s a timeless acceptance and serenity in this 45-year-old woman’s psyche.
I’m still working on it.