If you are a prospective IVHQ volunteer or are currently in the bouts of volunteering for a summer in Romania, no doubt you will come across the phrase “summer residential camp.” Without question, it is an opportunity for volunteers that have a specific interest in childcare and English education to place that passion to a beneficial context. I, myself, was not enrolled in this placement, but watched as my fellow accommodation mates said their temporary good-byes and embarked for week-long stays at camp accommodations. There they would immerse themselves in the needs of foster children and their interests. I only know this because I was invited to visit for a day amidst my transition to another volunteer placement. Continue reading
This is my granddaddy’s right hand. At one time, my small infantile body sat cradled in it. Before I was born, it gripped baseball bats and captured baseballs in mid air. It squared and doubled onto itself ready for various fights and spats during and on the way back from school. It was unmatched in victory. In my granddaddy’s boyhood, it picked through Alabama cotton plants, never lonely of soil and calluses–never lonely until pay day. Continue reading
Alright reader. I wrote in my journal last night that for these blog posts, I don’t always want to have the tone of a fortune cookie. So for this post I want to get a little personal, pull more from my own bag of tricks so to speak. I don’t expect a large audience to actually read my posts anyways, so I am not taking much a risk here. So… reprieve, huh?
Life is one long reprieve. From the time I breathed my stuttered breath on this earth my body–my physical keeper–has been counting down until the end. I am living the final countdown. Because life is a long stretch of time, I don’t really feel the reprieve I am experiencing. I have adjusted and grown accustomed. I think I felt it more when was younger, honestly. In childhood everything is so new and fresh and stark. If it was bright day outside, and my grandparents told me I couldn’t go outside, I felt so attacked. However, the reprieve I experienced directly as a kid involved the mundane and the taboo subject of corporal punishment:
I forgot the red headscarf and those damn patent leather shoes. Both could go to the deuce in my young opinion, but my opinion had no merit in her eyes. She was going to whoop me. She was to lay hands on me in a way not of God. She was going to lay hands on me in the way souls are restrained in hell. She was going to wield the whip of truth upon me. It was a clear telephone chord, a tool for communication purposes. Each strike was as if to say, “Feel pain, but do not cry. If you cry, more strikes are given. Tell me the truth, but only the truth that makes sense to me.”
“Alexandria where is your headscarf and those shoes. You know you gotta wrap your head up at night, and I want to wear those shoes for church tomorrow!” I could hear her say.
I would pathetically mumble that I had forgotten them at my grandmother’s house.
Her eyes would close in on me like a target, before I’d know it my cries of protest would be fruitless. “I am tired of your excuses, Alexandria.” It would have been over.
This time, she asked the question. I fell on my knees in front of her in the kitchen, tears bursting from my eyes.
“Please, oh gawd! Please don’t whoop me! I just forgot it, but its the truth. PLEASE–”
I would have continued, but I heard her laughing. She thinks its funny. What? This is good? Yes, this is good. I, unbenownst to me, had amused her with my desperate attempts to not lose one of my lives that night. I was saved a beating. I gained reprieve from the queen.
I think there is an idea that survial comes after some kind of relief. Like, “Oh, that hurricane destroyed everything she had, but thank god she survived.” The storm is over and we can all walk away. There’s relief in that, but it isn’t always so. I think survival is existing with something pivotal being taken away from you. You compensate, doing without. Sometimes it is becoming the storm—striking before anyone else can. Sometimes it is living with a wound that you don’t know how to heal. Sometimes its living with the storm inside you, so you wake up knowing that it isn’t over.
She knew what it was to hate oneself.
A look in the mirror was painful and the beauty she possessed seemed too much a weight…like chocolate too rich to enjoy. The bitterness she harbored was too great.
No one knew what the darkness hid. She was cold but somehow knew that the flames of hell were playfully dancing and holding hands around her ankles. Each step forward was a weak objection to their plans but they only held tighter and laughed their flames brighter so that her face contained beastly shadows rarely anyone saw.
“Dance with us!” they cried. Pitifully they chided. Their ugly smiles were endearing to her, they did not realize the demons they were in her eyes. Their dance and their song was their fun and they only wanted to share…to play. To play the game that some call life, others call temptation, and others call damnation.
I’m thankful for bridges—that they exist so people can walk over them and get to the other side and reach each other. I’m glad that they exist because if not it would just be a bunch of people peering over at each other. Yelling words that could so easily be blown away by the wind. Maybe there would be people using telescopes and binoculars to read each others lips. I don’t know. Continue reading
I watched the boy run in circles and topple over himself, only to do it all over again. My body instinctively jerked many times to stop myself from running to his rescue—down he would fall onto his small hands, but it did not take long for his little legs to straighten out and he would shoot into the crowd, dodging the coaxing arms of his father and other cooing bystanders. How bold. How unaware. Continue reading