Mrs. Sunshine and daisies part 2:
At the park we sat in the shade under some weeping tree that looked like it was pouring its leaves down from its branches. The bark was thin, brittle white paper. I laid in the grass, crunchy and live, feeling balanced on top of it like on mattress springs. She sat next to me.
We had walked silently, and she wanted me to talk about things. Under the weeping tree I felt like spilling my guts out, but where to start?
“I don’t want to be a troublemaker,” I say.
She sits up, “Hm?”
“I’m a troublemaker, and I don’t want to be. That’s what’s wrong.” The confession brings tears to the rims of my eyes, but she doesn’t understand and smiles.
“You are kind of a criminal. Or, rather, were a criminal. I thought you said you were out?”
“I am out. I can’t get back in, and I wouldn’t.”
“So what’s the problem?” She waited. “What is it?” She waited. “Are you going to talk about it?” Yes. “So talk about it.” But where to begin? Didn’t we already hear the end of it? My part in this has played out. “There’s always more,” she says.
“More of what?” I’m not mad, but jumbled and unhappy. “I haven’t done anything good for myself since I was… oh, I don’t know, never. I’ve never set myself up except for sabotage. I’ve been a troublemaker and I’ve hurt people. I’m the worst person. I hurt people for money.”
“You’re not a bad person.” I’m the worst person. “You just need to find something. There’s a lot out there if you are willing to change.” I can’t change. I am irreparably damaged. “No, you’re not. You need to find something to hold on to. Find a religion or practice Zen like I told you.”
I crack a smile at the wrong time and she’s upset. I wasn’t even laughing about Zen, I was just uncomfortable. Moving on was frightening, any idea of the future was frightening. I hadn’t given myself a chance in hell at a career, or a family… now what? Zen Buddhism? Seeking stillness to calm my troubled mind? Stillness… stillness.
“I’m sorry.” She forgave me, because she probably does understand. “I don’t want to be a troublemaker anymore. But what is there for me? I haven’t had a real job in fifteen years that wasn’t a front for something… I have no credit. I don’t even really know what credit is, or how to use it, legally. Don’t you see what I mean? Nothing I’ve done for the past fifteen years has helped me prepare for this bit. I have spent fifteen years in a business that has taught me nothing of value… it’s made me a bad person.”
We sat there, not talking for a long time. It wasn’t awkward, but purifying, like rinsing out your soul and drying it and putting it back on clean. The wind blew gusts, just enough of a nudge to seem playful, not bullying. I watched the underside of the branches swaying… the sky always looked great all blue through the leaves… where was my wrist watch? I fell asleep.
I awoke to her kneading my shoulder with one hand. “You’re not supposed to fall asleep.” Huh? “That was very peaceful, and I was telling you how Zen is very similar to moments like this, then you were asleep.” Oh, I’m sorry. “You very well are, I bet. You’re still half asleep. Let’s go.” We left the park, but I knew I’d be back the next day. I hadn’t slept well in fifteen years.