The walls we build are subtle, at first.
I remember being six. My hair was wispy. Long. I liked it that way.
I could make it into a face-curtain when the one hanging in the living room was too far away to escape to without being seen.
That was the year my cousin got a pixie cut, which I suppose was “in” at the time, although today I know that pixies look good on some people no matter their year, and not good on others, no matter their anything. I fall into the second camp.
“Just a trim, please,” I said. My mom had other plans.
I left the barber sporting a pixie that made my round face look rounder and my small ears smaller. I wore a hat for weeks.
When a trusted teacher took it off without asking, I started building my heart-wall. Shame and anger reddened my face but hardened my workers. The tiny people living inside me mixed mortar, stacked bricks and went to work. I could hear them shouting orders and the tiny “beep, beep” as mini forklifts backed up between corners with supplies.
I’d be more careful, next time.
Life offers a lot of wall-building opportunities.
Heart-bricks were added the day a girl at rollerskating said “You’re ugly,” and I didn’t say anything because I suspected she was right.
The day the boy I liked liked my friend instead, and she liked him back even though she’d told me she didn’t. The she’d never.
The day my mom moved out.
The night in high school when my first real boyfriend said “We’re not going to prom. Sorry. Also, I’ve decided Melissa isn’t as annoying as I thought and I’m going to give her a chance.”
The thing about building a wall is that the bad stuff still gets in while the good stuff sits down, defeated in the dirt in front of it.
No matter the strength of our walls, the bad stuff gets in.
The girl at rollerskating who calls us ugly is still right there, next to the most insecure and scared, sacred place inside.
The ones who leave us wondering, wishing, and sometimes plotting are right there too, while our wall-builders whisper “Told you. You’re not good enough.”
The good stuff though – that’s easy to keep out.
The person who says “hello” is “just being nice,” or is bored, or whatever.
Maybe, the main wall I’d build around my heart wasn’t made of stone but of ice?
It was only our third date, but I was running out of time and had run out of games long ago. I said it. “I want a baby.”
I could hear the forklift engines revving up.
“It’s okay if you want to leave,” I said. “I know you already have kids.”
The workers were readying themselves to build the wall higher, stronger, because how stupid could I be asking this guy I just met to leave if a baby wasn’t in his future?
“Shhh,” he said. “I want to stay. And okay, to a baby. Just one?”
I listened for the workers inside and instead heard the melting of ice. “Huh,” I thought. “And all this time, I thought the wall was built of stone. Instead, it’s been a mini-glacier, and love is like hot water.”
“Just one,” I said, mostly meaning it because I was already considered Advanced Maternal Age, and how much could I push for on a third date (or in life)?
I wonder whether I meant to say “I want 1,001 babies,” but know that was likely impossible and a little bit crazy.
When we build walls, who are we really keeping out?
The walls spoken about in politics today scare the hell out of me. If the world’s history and my personal history has taught me anything, it’s that the bad gets in. The bad is determined, after all. Those who have nothing to lose will find a way to climb or to dig, much like our insecurities find ways to our centers despite our walls of stone or of ice.
The good though. The walls defeat the good.
There’s a guy out there right now who wants to build a wall, and he’s wrong, and building a wall is stupid and the bad guys will get in and the good guys won’t. I read an article about Carolina workers, and how Americans are given jobs as priority but only seven out of 6,500 stuck it out. SEVEN. The workers who farmed these crops are here, doing jobs that Americans don’t want to do! WTF??? We’re going to build a wall to keep them out? So what will we eat? More processed food? More cancer?
F*ck the walls, except sometimes, for privacy.
I sit in my tiny yard and I see the fence that divides me from our neighbors but rather than seeing a wall, I see my privacy. I see a small, safe space where I can pace while thinking of what I want to write, of the people coming and going at a distance.
I find tranquility in wondering whether they’re on their way home from work, going to a hospital to say a first hello or a last goodbye.
Maybe, they’re simply driving to the grocery to pick up strawberries because their son, like mine, eats too many carbs and always eats strawberries.
Mostly, I think walls don’t work and I want to not build them inside myself, or along my country’s borders. Let’s let the nice in.
Evil is only dispelled with magic wands, therapy, and love. The good? It’s sitting out there, waiting for us to melt the wall or stop it from happening in the first place.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “When it comes to borders…” (borders, boundaries, walls…)
Our lovely co-host, and this week’s sentence-thinker-upper is Kerry, from Her Headache. She’s wonderful and wrote about borders, and the crossing of them in a FB post this week, so I asked if FTSF could use her idea this week. I’d planned to write about borders, and funny trips to Mexico, but instead, found myself stuck on walls.