I am a Dangerous Woman
We came home from a half-business, half-vacation trip to a dead car.
“Remember when I said I wonder if our car will start when we get back?” I asked my husband as we sweated in the sticky humidity of an airport garage. It was late. We were tired, dirty and hungry, a recipe for disaster. “I've never said that on a trip before. And here we are. Car's dead.”
Our Hyundai looked ready for takeoff, her hood propped up and the trunk gaping wide as my travel-weary husband rooted through miscellaneous trunky things, looking for tools. “I know. Thanks. You jinxed it.” The rows and rows of cars around us felt like empty shells lined up against the walls. The two of us, so alone in the shadowy concrete chambers, moths slamming into fluorescent lights nearby with a spooky sizzle, were the only sign of life.
“If this were a movie my phone would be dead, too,” I said.
“Do you really have to document this misery?” He was half in, half out of the driver's window now, cranking the key to nothing as I circled our car with my phone, snapping a shot. Of course I must document. Artists know how to find stories.
I've been thinking about stories a lot lately. And words. How they aren't always pretty or comfortable—stories or words—and how, the older I get, the less that seems to matter. The less lots of things seem to matter. I'm restless and wild and dangerous.
I tacked a trigger warning on a recent story because someone suggested I should. Before that I added a trigger warning on a story of deep, raw grief, just in case. Before that, in another life, I handed out disclaimers on my writing like perfume samples at a mall kiosk, half-chasing people down to read them ...
Did you see my disclaimer? Do you agree to withhold all judgment before reading? Please understand the niche audience I write for before proceeding. Start here. If you get offended, triggered or hurt, the following paragraphs probably do not apply to you. You might want to skip this one if ____ or ____ or ___.
Not so pointed, of course.
This last one left me thoughtful as I continue moving through a bone-cracking personal shift. Artists, writers, storytellers ... we all have so many stories to tell, don't we? And sometimes the story is found in negative space, the lines left empty as a form of art itself. It is not black and white. It is a shadowy dance of intuition and restraint, tangling the roots of who, what, when, where, how and how (much) revealed truth.
Some say we bear great responsibility. “The pen is mightier than the sword” is one of the more placid sermons I've heard.
I say yes. We artists bear great responsibility. We are entrusted with stories that have an unpredictable shelf-life, tales which, if they are not expressed, either burst inside us or shrivel and die and lodge like crusty-musty barnacles against our bones. Our stories come to us and must be allowed, or we become withered versions of them, orchards of regret.
Of course, there is a time for silence, and silence can be its own story. Perhaps some stories are meant for us alone. Perhaps we learn this the hard and wind-y way, through life's sometimes brutal gauntlet of experience.
All I know is, for me right now, I will no longer add disclaimers to my words.
If this makes me inappropriate for some, so be it. You guys, I am tired. I've lived so many full years.
My inner judge and jury can be tougher than any of my readers ever dreamed of being. Right now his tone is brittle. “You always talk about grace, and where's the grace in this?” are words he's tapping along the inner tubes of my brain. Yes. Grace. Always. A dear friend reminded me, as I traced the swirling grace always embraces tattoo on my inner arm and panicked that I can't embrace right now, that sometimes it's a farewell embrace. And it can be gentle, tender and soft, like I like to be. And my words can come with jagged breath and hoarse whispers, untangling themselves from the vast depths of me and rising to the surface for some sunlight and air.
You need Jesus, a recent drive-by comment read.
Yes. Always. I am a dangerous woman. I am wild and wandering, restless and resting. I am breaking apart and growing whole. My stories ravish me. Again and again, I allow. I will not pick and choose which of my words need disclaimers and trigger warnings; if need be, let all of them. Let me. I come to you with smoldering fire.