She’d fought against it for so long. She hadn’t thought that this day would ever come. She’d dreaded it, longed for it, prayed against it, prayed for it, wept over it, laughed about it, and yet here it was. Everything she knew was about to change. Everything unfamiliar for which she had prepared was about to begin. It would be arduous, she knew, and from what she’d been told, she knew nothing. There would be much to do there, and she had been advised to expect that she wouldn’t accomplish most of what she set out to do, but that, if she remembered who she was, she would achieve what mattered most. Nor she should she grieve over that when her term was over. Too many had too great expectations, and on their return, it was painful and effortful to shed them.
No regrets, she was told. At least hold onto that, even if you can’t remember anything else. She wondered why they regarded her the way they did. Sadness, she understood. It was a difficult journey. And encouragement—because it was a worthy one. But the envy? What was there to envy about the strange heaviness she was about to encounter, the helplessness, the complexity. Yet, there it was. They all had been there. Some of them would go back when envy—as mysterious as it was to her—outweighed resistance. She would understand, they said. Afterward, she would know why the envy. It was nothing they could explain. It would mean nothing to her even if they said the words. They had tried to explain it to her before, but they might as well have described weightlessness to someone bound by gravity. She listened, she nodded, she understood nothing though she thought she did. Someone like her ought to understand everything. She would, they said, afterward. Every answer was always afterward. She had to accept it. She had to ready herself.
She slipped inside. Don’t forget me, she said. And then all was forgotten. All was unknown. She swam in darkness. She floated in heaven. If she had remembered before, she would have said to them that she understood at last that this delicious warm dark floating was indescribable, and afterward she wouldn’t be able to describe it either. If she had remembered, she would have been delighted over it, and angry that she had waited for so long for this. But even if she had remembered, she wouldn’t know that she was about to be expelled into the cold brightness. She would cry over it. And then she would suckle.
Exercise #3: “It was time”…with a hat tip to Isaac Bashevis Singer. #ministory