Thursday, July 26, 2007

Primal Scream

I’m working in the Kids department at the bookstore. There is a child of about three who won’t stop screaming. The customers around him seem unimpressed.

I sigh with envy.

As if reading my mind, a lady approaches me gesturing in the direction of the screaming child, “Don’t you wish you could do that sometimes?”

I smile. “Yes. Daily.”

My mind drifts back to grade seven. At the end of every school day I would count the minutes until I could burst out the door and let out a very guttural “ARRRGGGGHHHH!!!!”

I’d get a few looks from my schoolmates, not unlike the looks my little three year old friend was getting from the adults around him. But it didn’t stop me. Some days my classmates would even join me in my primal scream.

Even farther back, I recall releasing my frustration on my Holly Hobbie doll. Now for those who are old enough to recall, Holly Hobbie was a very old-fashioned sort of doll. She was dressed like she belonged on the set of Little House on the Prairie; floral dress, bonnet, long braided hair and simple black shoes.

I can see Holly Hobbie and I lying across my bed. I’m about five years old. My Holly Hobbie doll is my pillow. I am crying into her soft belly. And I am biting her feet, so hard there are bite marks on her shoes. I still have her. She sits in a box in storage. She reminds me of how alone I felt in the world. How alone I still feel.

Where does that anger go now? I feel a fire running up the core of my body. That same fire I dispelled with my primal scream in the seventh grade, that same fire that left indelible marks on the feet of my childhood doll, that same fire that threatens to consume me even now.

I often describe my brain as feeling like it’s on fire. And it is. I imagine it is screaming the same thing that my little three year old friend would have screamed if he’d had the words, “Life isn’t fair! And I don’t want to play anymore.”

tall penguin

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