Obeisance

The years were short that I endured these daily renditions. As destiny had ordained, I was abandoned at age seven. Seven, precisely, my birthday. The timing was, of course, not accidental, not coincidental. Nothing ever is. And, of course, I could not have failed to sense, at least, its forewarnings. Both my father and my mother had accumulated so many breaches of propriety, in violation of the precepts of any spiritual or civil code, together and separately, they had to flee their iniquities. Fearless, though, discontent with the slavery if not the servitude, if not the subservience, I had wished ardently for a similar threshold. As so often since, it is wholly likely that, defying reason, I urged the eventuality just as I did. In submission, a gauntlet masterfully run, I gained dominance. I brought it upon myself, for myself, for the privilege to live another day, to engage in battle yet again on another field. Again, in the fulfilment of destiny, I made it so.

Despite and still, I did not just grow up. I raised myself under the intermittently watchful and negligent eyes of compassionate strangers, by appearances bohemian like me – unconventional, balancing freedom with responsibility, concealment with invention, honesty with reality. Never guided, never suggested, I learned to speak when I entered a room; to say please and thank you; to respect all elders; to give my seat first to them, then to women, then girls; to say yes, ma’am and no, ma’am, yes, sir and no, sir; to offer to help in the kitchen; to do the dishes and to clean up after a meal; to lend a helping hand, in general, to anyone in need; to be good to animals and to children; to protect and to defend those who could not protect and defend themselves; to hold the door for the person behind me; to look back when I parted from someone; to love people for who they are, and not what they could do for me, not what I could get from them, to treat people the way that I would want to be treated.

I made a lot of mistakes along the way, to be sure. Many of my choices – uninformed by the experience of parents and relatives – were reckless. When choosing between two evils, amongst the many others present, I always chose the evil yet untried. I was fearless, because I had no other choice. From the earliest age, I disembroiled myself from the ravelled, choking maze of caution, confronting head-on whatever came my way. The girls and women in my life taught me lessons. If I wanted something from a boy or a man, I won it in battle, not for sport, but life and death. I listened to and talked to the females; with the males, I fought, with fists, not words. In but few cases did I find the boys and men worthy of my words. In all that and towards all whom I have encountered, this wisdom more than any other has prevailed – A vast surrender is my only strength. Surrender not in submission to abuse, but in acceptance of destiny, that which may never be coerced, cajoled, or counted on.

When I know not where I am – not lost, but cut adrift, denied both roots and destination, unable to find my way back to anywhere familiar – when even the past, present, and future are unclear –intermingled, superimposed, tense seemingly refuting tense – then – as no place is really mine, no place really home, as if there ever was a home – insinuating myself immediately, naturally, easily to any place, to the place I find myself, that place is home. Never let it be said, I was untrue. I never found a home inside of you. Nothing begins ’til you get there. 

Pity us battling always at the limits of limitlessness and tomorrow. Pity our errors, pity our sins. Yet there is no sin without guilt. Blameless, no vow foresworn. My only impiety – obeisance to fate.

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