Prisoner in Paradise–a Parable

Once upon a time a peasant girl met a handsome prince who swept her off her feet and carried her away to his magical kingdom to live “happily ever after.” There he provided her with “everything she could ever want”–a gorgeous castle, fancy clothes, servants and chariots. Eventually, she even gave birth to two beautiful children. It seemed the peasant girl, indeed, had “everything”! She was certainly the envy of all the citizens in the kingdom. Yet, deep in her heart, the peasant girl was unhappy and the prince could not understand why.  After all, he had given her “everything.” He offered her more things, but she turned them away. He tried to impress her with his heroic deeds and commendations, but she was unimpressed. With each day, month and year the peasant girl-turned princess became increasingly depressed.

Then, one day, she was gone!

No one in the kingdom could find her. The servants searched her quarters, the children searched the gardens, the prince searched the bedroom. She was nowhere to be found. Suddenly, the maid came rushing in from the kitchen waving a slip of paper. It was a note that read:

Dear Beloved,

When I was a peasant girl I was confined to my father’s house. I had to obey him and abide by his rules. When I became a woman I left my father’s house but was, again, subject to a man’s rule. I have spent my entire life longing to be free. I loved my father and I love my husband. They are both good men who have been good to me, but the person who I long to be can not exist in captivity, even if it looks like paradise! I am more than a daughter, a wife and a mother. I am also a poet, an artist, a speaker, but you’ve never heard my voice! How could you? In this kingdom it is drowned out by so many other sounds… So, I had to get away…to hear the sound of my own voice!

I wonder how many women can relate to the princess in this story? Feeling like a “prisoner in paradise” who can–or should–not complain about a “good” life with a husband and children who love you, but also feeling completely underwhelmed and unfulfilled because you have your own dreams and ambitions that have been set aside for theirs?  I’ve struggled with many of the “safe” choices I’ve made, wondering if I should have taken some risks instead.

But, where does the princess in this story go? She leaves the safety of the kingdom–the protection of her prince and the surety of his purse! She’s on her own without his advice and she’ll have to figure out how to navigate the wilderness all by herself! She dares to venture out after years of pampered, protected and privileged captivity. What does she feel now that she’s gone? Fear? Freedom? Both? Will she succeed or will she fail? Will she hear her own voice or will it be drowned out by a cacophony of sounds she never anticipated? Your/her/our plot thickens!

To be continued…

slipper

 

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#Daily Post #Traditional

Life Lesson in a Hot Tub!

So, here we were, the token ‘blacks’ on a budget vacationing at an exclusive Marriott resort, knowing good and well we couldn’t afford the beach towels wrapped around us, much less the high-priced suites or high-end amenities, but here we came just the same, tipping over to the hot tub, hoping not to make a splash!

There were only a few people around the pool area and only one older couple in the Jacuzzi.

“I’ll give them 5 minutes to make up an excuse to leave” I whispered to my husband as we came near.

I pulled my carefully pressed and dyed blonde hair up into a knot so it wouldn’t get wet.

“You’re so wrong for that.”

“Okay, one minute.”

We dropped our towels and stepped in.

The wife said something to her husband and climbed out. It hadn’t even been ten seconds!

Aha! I looked at my husband.

Then a woman and her teen-aged daughter came around on the other side of him and stepped into the water. About the same time about four or five children come—seemingly out of nowhere and practically dive bombed in, including one little girl, about six years old, dark hair, clear blue eyes, slender arms and legs.

Fearless.

She looked right at me as she stepped into the churning, frothy, water and sidled closer. I looked at my husband.

“She likes you” he said.

I looked back at her and smiled. “Hi!”

“Hi!” She said and scooted closer. She kept looking at me, inspecting my face, my hair. “I caught a fish.”

“Oh really?”

“Yeah, a yellow tail tropical fish, I caught him in my hands like this” she cupped her hands together and held them out towards me.

“Oh wow. You weren’t scared he might bite you or something?” the little girl cut her eyes at me as if I was dumb.

“He was a little bitty yellow fish. Like, this big” she held her forefinger and thumb together so that there would be just space enough for a tic-tac.

“Oh, well, I guess nothing scary about that, huh?”

She gave me that look again.

“So, what did you do with him?”

She shrugged. “I let him go.”

“Oh.”

A slim, dark-haired woman holding a chubby baby wearing only a sun hat and a diaper began calling names like a drill sergeant and the little girl obediently splashed out of her seat beside me along with all of the other children who had so unceremoniously barreled in. As quickly as they came, they were gone, ordered, with precision, by Sergeant Mom. The adults who were left in the pool were awe-struck.

“I think she has 8”

“8 kids?”

“Yeah.”

“You mean all of those kids are hers?”

“Oh my gosh!”

“Wow!”

“That’s amazing!”

“That’s crazy!”

“How does she do it?”

“She seems to have a system.”

“Yeah, look at them, they’re all together.”

“Can you imagine trying to keep up with 8 kids at the beach?”

“Lord, I’d probably never leave the house.”

“I know! I’d lose one for sure!”

And so the conversation went with the older couple—oh, yeah, the wife came back, perhaps she went to the bathroom?—the lady with her daughter, who happens to be just a few years older than our daughter, and us, the only black people at the exclusive Marriott resort. We continued in the conversation, without any weirdness, awkward moments or ridiculous questions.

We marveled at the fearlessness of the mother and the ordiliness of her children, we talked about our own children and our parental triumphs and shortcomings. We laughed and chatted about all the little nothings that people chat about with acquaintances that you meet by the pool when you’re on vacation.

The water got a little too warm so we got out, wrapped ourselves in the over-priced towels and bid our resort mates adieu.  As we walked back to our room I, of course, chastised my husband  for making assumptions about others based on such simple differences as skin color or social class. He had almost let pettiness ruin a perfect vacation! ; )

Oops

Flash fiction: Life’s a Challenge–Face It!

In my Creative Writing class we learned about micro-fiction or “flash” fiction, a genre that takes the “short” in short story very seriously. Micro-fiction really challenges a writer to get his or her point across quickly and creatively. Every word counts. It’s much like poetry, except it’s prose! So, last month I featured Raven’s story.  This month I’m featuring my two boys–there’s only two of them in the class–and they each did a great job with this assignment. First, “She’s Like a Wack-A-Mole Game by Thierry Lundy

Everything was fine between her and I, until she started to give me trouble.  Like a psychiatrist, I tried my best to help her resolve her issues, but this was a frustrating and expensive task.  She became too much like a wack-a-mole game.  It seemed like as soon as I would knock one issue out, another would pop up.  This led to constant visits to the store to buy her things to make her feel better.

Sometimes, I would be overcome with gladness as we rode through the city together.  I would not hear one peep from her.  To me, this was a sign that she was healed.  Filled with hope, I would say to myself, “Maybe she has overcome the wack-a-mole syndrome.”  Then on day this hope of mine quickly vanished.  While riding down the street with her, another mole popped up.  It was a big mole.  Her brakes went out.

She was my first car, a Ford Tempo.  She was my own personal wack-a-mole game.

Ford Tempo

Next is Cory Jackson. He’s kind of a quiet force in the room, but he has a way with words. Since he didn’t have a title for this piece, I’ve chosen to call it “DECISIONS, DECISIONS”

Staring into space, it seemed I watched him contemplate every decision he’s ever made. His rights, his wrongs, the right things he’s left and the things he’s left that he knew was right. Puzzled, but yet still determined to figure out the solution in this life and death situation. As we both stood there aimlessly, I mumbled, “Just pick”.

With a sarcastic smirk he replied, “I can’t, it’s not that easy.”

“What do you mean it’s not that easy? Either pick the right one or the left one, you can’t go wrong with either one.”

“If only it was that simple” he quickly responded.

“Well, it is, so pick or I’ll choose for you.”

“Fine!” he stated, annoyed at the fact that I was rushing him to reach a conclusion, he gracefully stretched out his hand as if he knew all along which one he wanted, then  swiftly pulled it back. “Can’t I get both?”

“Absolutely not!” I responded. “Either pick or we can leave.”

Disappointed, he laughed it off. “Ok fine, I’ll go with the Kyrie 2’s rather than the Kyrie 3’s.

“Alright grab them so I can pay.”

As he grabbed the shoes of his choosing, filled with excitement, relieved his hard work of decision-making had finally payed off, I watched as my younger brother made eye connect with the beautiful patent leather on the Jordan 11’s. Noticing, I quickly shouted, “Don’t you do this!”

Standing there in a daze he looked at me and said, “But what about these?”

I sighed and sat back down. “Just pick.” In that moment I was reminded of the trouble with being a 16 year old boy.

Jordans

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