Last night I did my first public reading of my work. I have another post on this I'll share soon, and how it's going overcoming my fear of public speaking. I wanted to share this short piece because it's the first thing I read last night. Even after I stood in a room full of people and spoke these words out loud, I still feel that twinge of anxiousness as I go to post this. There's always that feeling when you put your work out there, no matter how short the piece is, that hangs in the air around you. That feeling that you no longer have control, it's free, it's out there, and it's going to be what it is.
p.s. I wrote this when I was living in Holland. Okay, I'm done... I'm letting this go, let it go Melissa...
The No-Name Thing
I picked up the orange and looked at it.
To me, it wasn't an orange. It was a no-name thing. I was tired of names. Tired of labels. Since coming to my new country, labels had come to be everything. I had no idea how to tell so many new people who I was. So I let the labels be everything, and everything else faded away.
"American", "immigrant", "girlfriend", and "unemployed", were the most common ones.
It frustrated me that my life, my identity, was reduced to these words. Couldn't I be more than this two-dimensional person? Where had that three-dimensional, pulsing with passion for life, fully formed person gone?
I wasn't sure, but for now, I had this delicious smelling no-name thing. There was stuff to be done. A house to be cleaned, immigration papers to sort, a language to study, family back home to write to, and new friends to bond with.
None of it mattered as I held the no-name thing. I cupped it in both hands, letting myself notice how heavy it was. I lifted it to my nose, but the full scent was hindered by the thick skin.
My nail dug in. As it penetrated and ripped the skin open I wanted to apologize. But then that aroma that was so fresh and alive flooded out. I had no further urge to utter sorry. I only wanted in.
My finger dug in and peeled back a piece of the outer layer.
I pulled out a slice of the thing and lifted it to my nose. I inhaled deep. Heaven. Pure heaven. Gently, I placed the piece in my mouth. Bold, sugary flavor consumed my thoughts. There was something I should be doing...
I took another bite and smiled with satisfaction. As I looked at the discarded skin laying around a wave of calm came over me. Knowing that the inside of the thing, the sweet, delicious inside, was the best part, gave me a feeling of reassurance. The inside was the most important part, and always worth the effort to get to.
I ate another piece. This was not a no-name thing. This was an orange. And it was okay that it had a name and labels. From the inside out, it was lovely and complete and perfect, just as it was.