History & belonging


Everyone belongs to a piece of something, to a part of the world that begins with humanity. Someone ought to tell the girl that because she shifts nervously in her chair, the air of discomfort growing taut around her. It envelops her like a cloak and saturates the breaths she takes in and out.

She looks around the table at the five faces she knows so well yet also doesn’t know. She wonders about the cords that tie her to them. Are they real and true? Or are they figments of her imagination?

In the moment she thinks about relationships – the belly in which they get formed, intricate detail by intricate detail. The history that collects around bodies to form an impenetrable wall that sometimes holds up its hands to others:

“No, you are not one of us.”

History. Does it come between people as a foe or as a friend? And when is it time to open up that history and let others in?

The seat beneath her feels too big for her. The conversation passes around her like delicious morsels, of things she knows yet history dictates her ignorance. She wants to grab every tidbit of the words and themes and concepts and tuck them into her body. To feel a part of the table and fit into her seat fully and securely with these people who know her so well yet don’t know her so well. She wants her place claimed for all times.

But instead she gets up from the table and smiles.

“I have to go,” she announces.

No one objects so she walks off still clutching the wonderings about friendships and family and the places these things get made. The easiness that comes to her, to tumble around with these sorts of things is not shared by many.

I watch her as she walks away, gently rubbing her chest, massaging the doubt that was beginning to beat behind the fleshy walls. I want to tell her how beautiful she is, from her heart to her mind and to the way her life pours out of her fingertips when it comes into contact with others.

In times of doubt she doesn’t see the full version of herself. And so I want to hold the ground for her. To hold up a mirror so she never completely forgets what she really looks like.

I want to tell her that family and friendships are things requiring honesty and vulnerability and that the world doesnt always do them well even where history is present. And a history that is not based in love will always keep others out. It will always be built around the superficial things of belonging:

—we have blue eyes—our father is that man—

If these are the only things we hang relationships on what kinds of families and friendships do we create? And maybe a look around the world today is enough answer to that question.

The girl gets onto the bus and sits in her favourite seat, her gaze following the setting sun. The red glow of twilight bathes her face in light making it luminous. Her lips twitch as though resisting a smile or a sigh. She does both.

I mentally grab her into my arms.

You are doing great, I whisper to her.

The deep things are mapped onto your bones. And love is the core from which you are hewn. This is where you belong, and where history should grow out of. And all the people you gather to you may not always know but they will experience the belonging etched all over you. When you give yourself permission to belong to yourself and to the spaces you occupy, others find the magic of wanting to belong where you belong.

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