What’s in a name?

What does it mean to be worthy of a name?

I was supposed to do great things – that’s what she kept telling me.

“Nathan Nightingale. We’re saving you for something special.”

The first half of my life was spent listening to her coo over me. She would protect me from her world; keeping me out of sight, but always within her reach.

“You’ll do great things,” she told me, “I’m just not sure what yet.”

The second half of my life was spent trying to figure out what it was that I could do.

She didn’t want me to break hearts because “that’s what they all do, dear.” I was supposed to be better than that.

“You’re Nathan Nightingale. You are merely too important to break hearts.”

I was too proper to go into space. I was too pretty to go to war. I was too perfect to be just another high school anti-hero.

I lingered in the dark corner she had long since placed me in. She’d forget about me for months on end before tripping over herself screaming my name.

It always came back to my name.

“I could be a prince,” I suggested. She sat at her desk, looking in my direction but seeming to be staring right through me.

“No… a prince is expected. And besides, I’m no regal advisor.”

I didn’t have a path in life. We could never find one, and with each new failure, I would retreat back into my dark corner with my head and self-esteem lower than the time before.

“They always tell you the name is the most important part, Nathan Nightingale, but they never tell you how to plan the rest.”

She never asked what I wanted to be. She never let me tell my own story. I was always there. Always listening to what script she would lay out for me, only to rip it away again.

“This is no story for Nathan Nightingale!”

I’m not sure what I would say if she asked me what I wanted to be (another thing she wants me to say). I have never been more than just a name.

Just a boy with an amazing, grand, royal, perfect name and no way to live up to it.

 

Poem

I’ll be your poem,

If your tongue can be the pen.

Write your words across my chest

And down my neck.

Let me hear the rhymes play behind my ears

And the rhythm sway my hips.

Long lovely lines licked along my lips.

Slow sultry sentences stretched on my skin.

I’ll be your paper

Your audience

Your craft.

You be the poet

The speaker

The heart.

You’re moving gently down the page; pen

Pressed against paper so soft

Dip your pen in the ink.

Swirl it around

Find the spot.

The passion over takes you

Faster and faster.

The sounds of pen touching paper create the music you get lost in.

Almost there.

One more line.

All of this

Is mine.

 

Give me a name

It’s amazing how you can’t recognize someone until they have a name.

She’s followed me for years. Always just out of sight, keeping her distance. I didn’t know her. I couldn’t see her clearly, and so, I kept her away. She hid in the shadows. A long, dark figure – not really a person – just the basic outline of one.

“…depression.”

She slithered up beside me on the exam table and hissed in my ear.

I blinked up at my doctor. What did he mean?

“Hiya! Nice to finally meet you,” her snake like tongue flickered out and licked my neck.

I tried to shove her – Depression – away, but now that I knew her, it was harder.

For years, I thought I was seeing things. I thought she was a figure of my imagination. And when I stopped believing that, I looked for other people’s shadowy friends. If I had one, everyone else must too, right?

With my doctor’s diagnosis, I realized this was a problem. Something out of the ordinary – something that not everyone had.

Suddenly everything I had felt – or not felt – was validated. She had a name. She had a look. She had a voice. It was harsh, but intoxicating. I could no longer ignore her calls. I fell into her arms, and studied her face.

She was the shape of me, but stripped down. Where I had lively eyes, she had empty black pits. Where I had a mane of hair, she had a smooth black head. Where I had full lips, she had a thin line, only opening when her long split tongue would dart out.

There was a day when she ran back to the shadows. I was concerned.

“Where’s Depression?” I asked. “Where’d she go? She’s mine now.”

I was confused. I was happy without her, but she was my burden to carry. I didn’t want to call her back, but her name slipped off my lips.

It’s funny how once you know someone’s name, it’s harder to let them go.

Guest Blogger: Play Your Role

Hey, hi, hello! I’m Sonia, and I am one of this week’s guest bloggers while Red Hot is on her vacation (lucky duck). Little does she know that as soon as she left for land that’s actually warm, we got our own taste of sunshine and spring up here too! Anyways, who am I? I am a university student with majors in both Business and Music. I’ve played the violin for 16 years now and am a hot mess when it comes to being a procrastinating perfectionist.

Have I had a blog before? No. Am I a writer? No. But, like all of us, I do have thoughts that tumble through my head, more often expressed abstractly through music and movement than through words. However, I do enjoy the odd occasion of expressing my messy thoughts. I hope you enjoy my most recent flood of words.

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The fight-or-flight response is a concept with which we are all familiar; a fear/stress instinct we feel when in a situation that directly threatens our being. However, we are involved in many stressful and scary situations where we are not the ones directly at harm, but our responses to these situations can be questioned and even categorized.

A recent example that comes to mind is when in the waiting room of the emergency ward of a hospital. Around me sat an array of individuals; quietly speaking with their loved ones accompanying them or sitting alone with strained faces from whatever pain they were feeling. In the midst of the quiet chatter and bustling of a 9 p.m. emergency room, there was a man who had been slumped over, unmoving, and deadly silent for the past hour and a half of waiting. He jolted upright in his seat letting out a bellowing, gurgling cry that made my body seize in fear. Collapsing to the floor in seizure, the waiting room full of patrons began to act.

Nurses rushed to the man’s side. Panicking, they called out for the doctor and spoke in shaking voices of what to do. The doctor briskly knelt beside the men. Following a checklist in his mind, he asked questions about the patient and the situation, to which he only received panicked responses from the nurses. As they worked, around them stood us patrons. Paralyzed in our places, we want to help, but are instead stuck in a different type of fear; not for our own lives, but for the man’s.

Paralyzed-panicked-or-present response. I always imagine myself being The Present person, yet in these situations I can’t help but be so struck by the stress that I can only stare, waiting for directions from The Present person that may never come. Is it possible to change from being The Paralyzed to The Present through experience alone? Is it possible to make that direct change, or might you first become The Panicked before becoming The Present? Are these roles who we are entirely, or do the roles change depending on the situation at hand?

Do you like the role you take on? Do you dare make the decision to change?

  • Sonia

Winter Blues

You left me shivering and wet.

I waited there, dripping, as I watched you disappear into the night. I didn’t know if I’d see you again. I like to think that you’ll come back; but then again, I didn’t think you’d leave me in the first place.

My skin still smells like you.

The rich scent of petitgrain twisting with hints of vanilla; hinting at something much sweeter than you were. It lingers in my hair that you brushed away from my face. It’s hidden in the folds of my clothes, even as they lay on my bedroom floor. It’s soaked into my skin from everywhere you touched me.

But you left me.

And now I’m stuck waiting, wondering if you’ll come back and how soon. Will you turn on your heel and come running back through the door? Will the sight of you warm me again? Will I be dry?

I sink into the fabric, pulling it closer into my skin, desperately trying to regain some warmth.

I want to move.

I want to take a hot shower and scrub my skin until I smell like me again. I want to walk away from the cold, damp night. I want to run so fast I can hear my heart pounding in my ears, rather than breaking in my chest.

I want to move.

But mother always told me that when you lose someone, you stay put and wait for them to return.