The Mark He Left, the One I'll Leave
Pulled from a sound sleep, I grudgingly get out of bed, because I know there is no chance of gaining back that thoughtless unconsciousness, that escape that comes with slumber. My spirit's already growing exponentially darker as I sit on the edge of my bed and gaze at the maps and posters that litter my walls.
As I get up and look in the small mirror on my bedroom wall, I can't even put my long dark hair into a pony tail without being reminded of all the places I once dreamed about. The mirror was covered on the sides with post cards from many different countries of the world. I tried to hold back the tears as I ripped them down and threw them to the carpet in a fit of anger. I always try to start out in a good mood, but being awake only reminds me of what I now have to face. Another shot of pain resurfacing, every time I see a picture, and especially my mother. It is so hard watching her trying to choke back the tears.
I had dreams once. I remember sitting with my dad, looking at the pictures he would bring back from the places he worked; the jungles in Brazil, to the sandy deserts of Egypt, to the red plains of Africa.
The world is wide Jenny-bean, he'd say, you can have great adventures. I would go to sleep dreaming up wild trips to the Amazon, treks to the great White North, or voyages across the sea. I believed him. I thought I could grow up to have great adventures and accomplishments. I was going to make a name for myself, go somewhere.
Even up to the day he left, I can't even count how many nights I spent staying up way too late researching things, like the equipment I would need to back-pack across New Zealand, or just how much I would have to save to be able to afford a trip to The Cayman Islands. Now it all just seems pointless.
It wouldn't be so bad, had he left us anything to live on, but when my father left us so suddenly, only two weeks ago, he left us nothing. My once stay at home mom, now had to search for a job to support herself and her three teenage children, myself, a seventeen year old about to graduate, and my twin brothers, only fifteen.
My mother had married young, right out of high school, so she had never gotten an education because my dad had a very good job, working in the oil industry overseas, a month on, a month off. I guess when he was there, he got lonely, that would explain why he has a 27 year old girlfriend with whom he already has two young children. I guess he loves them more than us, because he decided to stay there, and lead a life with his second family. My heart feels completely ripped out. I can hardly look at my mother anymore, it just hurts too much.
Now when I go to work, what I once strived for seems unreachable. All the hours I spent, to save up my money for the dreams of my future. It doesn't even feel the same knowing that 75 percent of my paycheck will go to pay for heating, or water. It's even harder when people who know come to the store, it's like they think it will make me feel better if they don't make eye contact, or pretend it isn't real. Or there are people like the town gossip, who come right out with it, "...so I hear he left you high and dry, eh?" Ouch, right?
My mom just had an interview at the Lucerne Factory down the road. Shift work for fourteen dollars an hour. I know that we can hardly complain because there are people who do support their families on that. I think it is just harder for us because we had it all, and now, we have nothing. It is now sort of every-man-for-himself in my home, my brothers recently started working too. You just don't think it could ever happen to your life.
The dreams I once had, I don't even want them anymore; they were hardly my dreams to begin with, he wanted it for me too. Why would I give him the satisfaction of knowing that because of the dreams he instilled in me, I became something, or accomplished great things. If I did, would he realize that it was a stupid decision to leave? That I was worth more than an Egyptian beauty and a few illegitimate children? Failing would almost be worth the personal disappointment, if it meant I would be disappointing him as well. When I shoot my dreams down, it almost satisfies me to know that even though he probably won't even know, I would be taking something from him as well.
I walked down to my kitchen and poured myself a bowl of cereal. Then, as I sat munching my Mini Wheats, my eyes fell on a picture of the green grass and moss covered stones of Machu Picchu, high in the clouds. That's when I realized. It wasn't about him anymore. Why can't I just prove to him that I can go somewhere without him, it would mean so much more if it wasn't funded by "daddy". I could take this and make it work and have something to show for myself, on my own. Then he would remember that I meant something to him once. I would go across oceans, climb mountains, and watch sunsets, and thoughts of him wouldn't limit me anymore.
And when he sees the mark I have made, he'll try to set things back to how they were again, but just today I found myself, and it's a burning in my very being. Now I know, and so will he: I'm more than just another place he's visited.