My Joy is fastened down in a pressure sealed glass jar. Screwed shut, sautered tight. It would bruise the soft inside arch of your hand to unwrench the lid.
Don’t bother trying. I won’t let her out.
I hold my Joy safe inside, hostage. She is too precious and raw. Golden hot and volcanically beautiful in her all consuming molten.
If you are new to me, I will give you a careful, filtered version – a thoughtful string of words, timed just right, that peeks at my insides. A toothy, incisor free smile, paired with a wheezing, too loud laugh.
It is real for a moment, but also contrived.
Is my Joy right for you? Pretty enough? Sexy enough? Maybe a little too much? Did I make you smile? Do you think I’m smart? No, but do you love me? Am I enough?
If the answer is yes, then maybe I will show you a few more vignettes.
Oh, what a sad game. My Joy deserves more than this ginger, protective farce. But we, she and I, are out of practice. We are stubborn and scared.
After years of watching rejection, irritability, heartache, sadness, control, and fear grow stronger… my Joy would rather opt out. She has forgotten that she has to keep blooming right next to them. Afraid to be herself – lumpy, loose and forever falling open like a clutch of hot and droopy summer wildflowers. Beautiful and relaxed. Laughing and vulnerable. Even/especially when planted near stinging nettles.
Long ago… She sang from table tops, danced gleefully naked, gobbled cookies, burrowed in the dog house, and stomped reckless in the muddy forest. My Joy was a warm, magnetic orb; playing yo-yo with the infinite power of the universe inside her and sharing it for all to see. When did she stop playing?
Sometimes she still visits me in the woods. She’ll pop around the corner surprising me with a giggle. Timid at first, but we hold hands, and then she is less so. She unfolds and unspreads and uncrinkles her wrinkles and we are happy together playing Queen of the Forest.
Next time we meet, I am going to get up the courage to invite her home. Like a scared and lost stray, coaxing her into my car and back to our safe house. To introduce her to my son, who she has been peaking at for years from behind my heart chamber, watching his Joy so strong and alive. They would be instant best friends.
I want to teach her to stand tall next to her brothers: anger, fear, sadness, and control. To take her place next to them at the dinner table, vying for a voice in the conversation and a spoonful of mashed potatoes; not just when they have exhausted themselves and are snoring on the couch. I want to teach her to sing a harmony I have only heard of, not practiced, where sadness and sweetness, brittle and soft, ash and amber wrap discordant notes lovingly around each other creating a hum we instantly recognize as the universe resonating.
I want to untighten her valve and let her be free. Thank you, but again, don’t bother trying. You will just hurt your hand. I am the only who can help Joy open the lid.