Just a quick catch-up. The truck is idling outside right now. It’s kind of amazing to me. I suddenly start feeling ashamed and hopeless and have suicidal thoughts. What’s wrong? Oh, yeah, the engine started up. It really is astonishing how direct the connection is. The only upside to this (as I see it) is that I cannot retreat into denial that easily. I can keep denying I was trafficked if that gets me through the day, but the engine starts up and it’s undeniable that something is up with idling vehicles. Quite a lot, in fact.
That’s not the point of the post. I’m trying to multi-task, that’s all.
Yesterday was one of our most important local holidays, and everyone gathered at the Holy Site. Like, the whole world. People came from the country next door for it, in their distinctive ethnic dress. The people here are really a part of the same ethnic group—the language is the same, but the dialect is different—but His Majesty is trying to force a national culture onto us, and we really look entirely different.
(I would like you to notice the use of “we” in that sentence. I kept having to correct it. Then it got tedious, and I left off doing that.)
Holidays are important now. They didn’t used to be. They were a day off for me. I could go out and do the Country X thing or I could hibernate. Now, I need to make sure I connect with C. I don’t know how to explain why this is important, but I know it is important and this is something communicated to me intentionally and purely accidentally by the other adults around me.
I was looking for her and her class teacher from last year asked me why, but a lady teacher who is perhaps slightly more tuned in to the world said, “She must be looking for you too.” When C comes down from school for important events like these, I need to find her and connect with her in some way, even if it’s only a few minutes. She needs to see I am there. I need to give her money or buy her something. It’s not about the money or the gift though. The money or the gift expresses care. It says I am here, and you are my child.
I looked for her for maybe 3 hours. I thought it would be easy, but it was as though I had just missed her. And maybe she eventually went to her aunt’s house—her mother’s sister lives right next to the Holy Site. It seemed like a good experience for me, though, this long process of looking, because I felt alarmed. I had to cope with being alarmed. I had to cope with not knowing where she was, and yet knowing the general area where she had to be. She could not be anywhere else.
I had to cope too, with the idea that she might be feeling shy, and she might be hiding from me. She might be coping with her own feelings of fear about the attachment by withdrawing, and I had to cope with the feeling of rejection of that. I had to cope with it long enough to come around to the idea that even if she is hiding, I need to find her. I am not violating her boundaries when she is doing that. I don’t know why I know I am not, but I know I am not.
There was a point in there somewhere, after maybe an hour, when I thought, “She is somewhere. It is not possible for me to be unable to find her. She is somewhere.” So I kept looking, but the panic stopped, and it didn’t come back, and that was sort of glorious. I just kept walking around, looking.
I finally found her when she had sat down in front of the Holy Site for the blessing. She saw me before I saw her. What caught my eye, in fact, was a face in the crowd lighting up with joy to see me. Then something happened with the boy sitting near her, and she turned her attention away from me, and I realized it wasn’t the appropriate time to approach her. She would feel self-conscious, and I went and sat down with my friend inside the tent where they were serving refreshments. But I had this lovely feeling sitting there of knowing exactly where she was, of being able to remember that face lit up with joy, and knowing she was close to me.
Of course, after the blessing, I had no real idea where she was. More people had gathered by then, and I had no way to locate her. I went with my friends to the shops that have been set up by the Holy Site for vendors that have come from other places to sell to everyone gathered. I had a coke, and they drank tea and ate snacks—I wasn’t hungry. I watched through the doorway the whole time. We were sitting a bit inside, and it wasn’t that easy to see, but I could see, and I just kept looking. Suddenly, she was framed in the doorway. She was not looking inside. She had just paused there, and she happened to be looking in my direction.
So I ran out suddenly. By then she had turned away and I didn’t immediately recognize the back of her head. A boy from last year’s 8C asked if I had found her at last—I had asked him if he had seen her hours ago. I said, “She was just here. Where did she go?” Then I saw her. I thought she would be with a crowd of friends, but she was with only one friend.