A polished personal regarding the impact of separation in an individual’s life.
Response to “Perpetual Motion” by Tony Hoagland
They had sat in judgment, watching as my soul and I passed by with no friends surrounding us, smirked as our eyes searched frantically for a group to mold ourselves into, and then mocked when we walked over to them in shameful resignation.
“Hey, can I sit here?” we would ask, nervously twitching as we awaited our verdict. I wish they would have given us a straight answer, but all we got was widened eyes, fabricated excuses, and those shape-shifting mouths that would smile, and smile brilliantly with porcelain teeth – little did we know that a rotten tongue was hiding behind their facade of friendship.
Gullibly, we fell for the trap. We took that hoax of an invitation and joined them, gleefully screaming at a sky with no stars. That feeling of belonging could not be replaced with any truth that faced us. We, in our hands, had the possession of ears that would listen to our sorrows, and mouths that would promise to take them to the grave. With our friends, we would shuffle through hallways, laughing and teasing, and criticize the passerby as they had to us. The texts left on read and the hidden rolls of the eyes were of no importance to us.
But as time went on, I began to feel that we were separate. They, like a deck of cards, would curl in the shuffler’s hand, each person with an identity that the group could not be without. We were the jokers, unnecessary and unwanted, cast away anytime our presence became irritating. Each time they peeled us off, we clung on harder. Each time we strived to take the appearance of a spade or a heart, we became the beginning of a new joke. After a while, our body was branded a drifter, a word that jarred us to the core of our being.
It hurt us, being called a drifter. That word was something that we had forbidden ourselves to be, for it gave us an appearance of someone who was confused and unworthy of love. That word would sit comfortably on our shoulders, breathing down our neck, whispering its name like a chant in our ears. Its weight would weaken our limbs, and we would sink down into the lakes of tears that would flood our carcass of a body. That word became a reminder of that day when we learned the truth of our existence.
Looking in the bathroom mirror, the realization hit us square in the face, and we sobbed uncontrollably at the sorrow it brought us. This desire to belong still spurred within our stomach, as we miserably walked out while they continued playing poker inside. We quickened our pace, trying to widen the gap between us and everyone else, but the ropes grabbed onto my soul, pulling her back. With much struggle, I held our weight down, until I reached and opened our car door – my soul screamed to return. I blocked my ears with my jacket, and, with a shaky hand, felt my pockets for the keys. As soon as the car started, my soul grew restless under our rib cage, wanting to separate itself from our lonesome body. She hated me for being a coward. She wanted us to be among their house of cards.
I drove us out of the city, away from the crowds, speeding as fast as time itself. Tears escaped our eyes, and flew behind us, into the past of sorrows that we were finally leaving behind. The smell of freshly cut grass tried to numb the painful ache in our chest and the sweet mountains sang a sweet lullaby that calmed the fire in our throat. As the miles of prairies passed by, the repelling force of neglect weakened its grasp on our body, and the comfort of separation embraced our frail frame. My soul had grown quiet in contemplation, as we blurred the lines under midnight stars.
We were both angry and tired of being ignored. Why did everyone treat us as if we vanished from the face of the Earth, even though we were centimeters away from them, laughing at the same joke? Nothing was more painful than appearing to belong, but feeling inside that we were worthless.
I pressed the gas pedal harder, trying to get as far away as possible from everyone, but the car started to spur, and cough. So, we stopped at a large lake to rest for a while.
Now, the marsh slipped through our toes as we wadded forward. We found a rock to sit on and looked up at the stars. We remembered that each star had many planets orbiting it, beautiful bodies perpetually moving in an ordered dance that would continue on for eternity. They all depended on each other to maintain their spot in the galaxy, but as soon as the sun began to age, they would have no choice but to die with it. The planets were beautiful together but separated, were helpless and weak.
Meteorites, however, had free will. They, like ping pong balls, ricocheted from galaxy to galaxy, never at rest, never confined. They, were like us, drifters among the stars and planets, adventurers in a world of settlers. My soul started to stir up inside me at the thought of this freedom. Both of us no longer wanted to be in the body of a blender, but rather wished to join the space junk, and be free forever. We, like the rocks in the galaxies, were never meant to stay still, for we thrived in our independence.
We realized that all along, we were stagnant in the tug of war between our desire to conform, and need to separate from those surrounding us.
But now, we curl within ourselves, detached from people, but connected to each other with self-love, and strength. We drifted.
Now, we are separated from the prejudice of people and free from the burden of belonging. We drifted a little more.
Now, we choose to rest on the fringes of society and dip into the commotion whenever curiosity beckons us. We drifted a little further.
Now, we take pride in the identity of a drifter and disappeared under the darkness of the velvet sky. We became flying rocks in a world of stars.
We are oblivious to our destination, but at least we are moving again.
That word no longer confined us but liberated us.
*This is a creative response that is influenced by personal experience. I have always felt that I was, (and still am) a drifter, and it used to bother me a lot in the past. I used to be angry at myself for not sticking to a group of friends all the time and building relationships with a strict few. Now, I enjoy drifting between many people because I feel free to make my own choices. I do not stop talking to someone just because my friend fought with them, nor do I sit with the same people at lunch, in fear that I must belong to a group to be socially acceptable. A drifter’s identity may be uncommon, but being a meteorite provides me with more happiness than being a planet does.