Pumpkinseed Sunfish

I could have sworn I was sleeping and as clearly as I can see the sun shining in my window and illuminating cobwebs I’m most certainly going to have to sweep down, I envisioned getting into a car and my ex-husband was at the wheel. Pause already because I don’t know when the last time was I saw that man in person, surely more than a decade in the past. My most recent long term monogamous ex who I actually saw last July for a couple of days during the pandemic was in the passenger seat and I don’t really know how I got in- it didn’t feel like one of those really old cars with the long couch seats and it didn’t look like a car with two bucket seats and it didn’t seem like I was sitting on his lap but there the three of us were, in the front seat, with the sun shining on our faces and neither of them uttering a word. I turned around to the back seat and sure enough, the dude I lived with the longest, who I probably hate the most now of all of them was in the back seat behind the driver, laid down as much as possible, which makes sense because most of the times I ever saw him he was on his back laying down like Patrick Jane from the TV Show The Mentalist; he thought he was so much smarter than everyone else that he could only recline to deal with life and he was in this apparently large enough backseat to be doing just that. And on the other side of him, behind me was my first favorite person, or at least the first person I could clearly look back and acknowledge had that role in my life and I actually couldn’t see him that clearly, like the others, I mostly felt him and knew it was him. He too was silent. Of all of the humans on the planet that I could take a roadtrip with I probably wouldn’t voluntarily pick the people who have all been notorious for gaslighting me, would I? And yet I didn’t feel any fear and we just took off, headed what felt very much like north somehow. Some point along the ride, the evil child laying down in the backseat made a comment about the flowly nature of my wig I was wearing and suggested he remove it and although he made no move toward me, I got an image in my head (I’m having a dream within a dream at this point) of him trying to pull it off me and when he tried in my mind, he pulled off all of my own natural hair too in a straight line from the front of my skull to the back like when a person is mowing the grass down the middle of a patch; the sides of my hair were still there but I was bald in the middle of my forehead all the way to the back of my head with two clumps of hair on the side making me look to myself very much like black female Albert Einstein or the Mad Hatter with no hat. There was no blood- just a shiny bald wide walkway down the center of my head. This disturbed me and suddenly, I was there- at some place- not driving or riding with them anymore.
When I got to the destination, it was no longer our destination but mine alone and I knew distinctly I was in Vegas. I don’t know what happened to the car or to them but I know I ended up in the lobby of one of the nicer strip casinos and it was so crowded that I was starting to feel a bit nauseous. My hair was in place, a much shorter more bluntly cut bob of a wig, but still a wig nonetheless and although I couldn’t see myself, I could tell that it was all black. None of my garments were visible to me though. Trying to exit a stairwell to get away from a crowd I ran into 2 older, darker skinned black women, heavy set and wearing thick eyeglasses and dressed in all black but not like funeral black, like going to an opera black and they were shorter and dumpier than me, with doublechins and a lot of makeup and I could feel that they were looking down on me somehow and one said something to me about liking my wig and wanting to wear it. For some reason, it felt like underneath it I was still bald across the middle and although in real life I would never let anyone touch my hair, it seemed like I was willing to take it off for them, I had lied to them saying I would but instead of doing so I just kept trying to leave. No matter where I tried to exit the building they were on their way to me and sort of talking shit a little bit that I wouldn’t let them take the wig off so they could see “me”. It was stressing me out and making me anxious and so instead of trying to exit anymore I just got on an escalator that was going up. I ended up on the very top floor of a very tall building and It looked as if some party goers were up there, ziplining or parachuting off the top- two things I would never do, but I was compelled to go look over the side, which sort of looked like an airport runway, and when I walked to the edge of the runway and looked down it was nighttime, the ground was flickering with lights that all looked so small and I could feel the slightest of breezes pushing me closer to the edge and it looked like it would be a beautiful fall and I was wrestling with this being my only means of escape and knowing full well that if I took this route, I wouldn’t survive it. I was okay with that and I could tell. I crouched down and peered over the side of the runway at the top of this building and you’d have sworn I was at the top of the Empire State, nearly dangling off the edge. Some woman, a young woman, came out and grabbed me and said, hey you’re a little close to the edge dear, you’re gonna fall and helped me up and walked me back into the crowded building. She had two long cornrows in her hair and they looked sort of blonde. Still in an effort to avoid the judgemental older black women duo, I took an elevator to the ground floor and escaped the building with a crowd of others out the back. The girl was gone. I could have been on Fremont Street at night or in an episode of CSI but it was hard to tell which. The Casinos lights were all extremely bright but I couldn’t read the names; the only traffic was too many people. I felt scared for a second, like I was lost but only a second later feeling lost made me feel safer. Like maybe I had gotten away from the older black ladies for now.

When I went to all the dream websites after I woke up to try and understand what I was telling myself, I found a lot of bits of interpretations- the car being traveling somewhere, the road the journey of my life; exes meaning resolved or unresolved issues with them and with relationships in general, the fear of falling being some anxiousness about my life and work, being chased possibly representing something I’m running from, the city itself being the complications of life and I don’t know what it really means… I do realize that the two people that I told that I loved were not in that car driving me anywhere and that has to stand for something- the people who were in that car were all folks who had told me they loved me, had lied, and had tried to control me in someway- all of which I routinely let drive when we were in cars together because for the most part they demanded it. I’m very seriously considering moving from California back to Vegas, mostly for financial reasons but also because if I have to travel again for my current job its an easier hub to travel from and I literally cannot be bored there, there is always a casino I can go sit in during a lazy day and get drunk playing penny slots by myself and minding my own business for hours. None of them were there when I arrived. I dunno why I’m so terrified of wearing a wig someday and being around the kind of horrible person who would try to hurt me by pulling it off, I’ve never been in that situation in my life and I don’t usually associate with people who even give me a violent vibe, I guess I do all of that being choicey about people because of the guys I was riding with but I’m also I guess scared of anybody who tries to get to close to me and feel who I really am because I don’t think that there is a such person, so being completely vulnerable and intimate sort of feels like an assault- I can’t live up to whoever they want me to really be and I don’t understand why the illusion of her isn’t enough; although even I will get tired of pretending to be something after a while, and to be honest, when I stopped performing for everyone in that car, they went away- they didn’t want to know me after all, just make my performances reality. Am I scared to be one of those older black ladies? Why, because they were judgy or because the world judges them? Why because there are so many stereotypes about them that I try hard not have anyone associate me with? And why do I care what other people think of me so much and what box they will most certainly put me in, when it is in their nature to do so, and how they feel about me doesn’t change anything in my reality? Maybe some of those biases are now ingrained in me and I can’t shake the inevitability? Maybe I’m already one of them and simply won’t accept it, which was why they were trying to get to the real me too? Did I not want them to see because I’m embarrassed or ashamed or because I’m afraid they too will say I don’t really make the cut to be in their ranks either? And why was it a young woman who pulled me back from the ledge, I clearly wanted to sail down from? I think normally people have those dreams and try not to fall and I was clearly trying to get closer and closer to doing so…that part has me truly stumped, I don’t have any female friends to speak of that aren’t related to me or sorority sisters or coworkers- and I also usually don’t do a good job accepting help, so why was it so easy for me to take her hand? Because I’m still trying to be like her in a lot of ways? Maybe I’m stuck somewhere in my mind in a much younger state than I should be and perhaps she’s the younger version of me inside me saying not to give up on living just yet? Maybe you’re only as young as you feel? I did have blonde hair for a short period in the 90’s and I made a video of myself “being natural” not too long ago where my own hair was in 2 cornrows. I thought I looked cute looking like myself; and maybe she is just me? I’ve got to help myself. I’ve got to be myself, for myself- perhaps?

So maybe I don’t know what’s next exactly and I’m not supposed to, and the last time I lived in Vegas I lived with others and if I move back this time, I’ll truly be all by myself and perhaps I’m scared everytime I take a chance on me for me alone-maybe being so hard on myself is just a bad pattern of thinking and worrying about what other people see when it comes to the real me makes it harder for me to be authentic. I grab a broom to sweep down the cobwebs and ask myself, who am I when I’m not acting like something somebody else needs? Am I scared that the real me is grotesque and unappealing? I’d be naive to think it doesn’t matter, everybody judges everybody on how they look even though thats the least interesting thing about them- and perhaps because I’m transitioning on the outside from young to old I’m worried that that judgment will prevent me from connecting with anyone, truly and deeply ever again?

I dunno, the real question is have I ever?

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