They are pointless. They are troublesome. They take so much effort to say when I do not wish to say them.
But I say them anyway.
It does not make sense. It does not have to be heard, it simply must be said. It could be shortened. I could save myself a half-breath. I could simply cut it in half.
But I don’t.
Why do I say them? I act as if they are important things to say and that everyone must hear them. I am stuck in a routine where I feel stranded if I have not attempted to make some verbal connection.
I modify them. I add to them. I make them more difficult to say. But still, I say them anyway. I say them as if I must not forget to add on the tags and formulate each syllable. The years bring new faces and new places. I answer accordingly.
“Good morning from Denver!”
The words were so simple, so pointless and somehow, infuriatingly necessary. Sometimes I bit my lip or tongue, thinking I can stop this habit, but I have been trained since childhood and this habit is now permanent.
I cannot leave well enough alone, but still I will modify them. The years have taught me to speak quickly, even if what I say is important—not everyone wishes to hear. I speak with my body instead.
You’re welcome—a smile.
Excuse me—a raised eyebrow.
Please—eyes filled with an almost-smile.
I know the actions to convey these words, but now I weary of using them so often. It is almost easier to speak them than to pretend I am immune to the security I find in voicing them aloud.
The words are changing again and I do not know how I can keep silent now.
Who takes care of what, anymore? Why should I be a reminder of caution, the world is not as dangerous as I feel inside.
But there is no way around goodbye.
Still, the years are settling around me and the words are still changing again. I say them with more emphasis than I can bear to fathom.
“Take care, dear.”
“Be careful, sweetie.”
These words are painful, torturous and so very necessary. I find that I must speak them now. They are no longer pointless, they are no longer meaningless, as the years have passed, their values increase.
I want to say them. I want to hear them back.
I want to never stop saying them. My reality is bittersweet, but I would never trade it. I crave it. I enjoy it. I would not wish it away—even as I drown in it.
“Good morning, babe.” I say to him.
He smiles and kisses my cheek. “Coffee?”
“Okay. Just a sec.”
“Thanks.” The cup is accepted with a tired smile.
“You’re welcome. Busy day?”
“Probably. Kids’ up?”
“Susan, Jamie, breakfast!”
The breakfast bustle is a whirlwind of rushing and dashing about. The silence comes quickly and I am standing at the door.
“Mommy, I can’t find my—Jamie, give it back!”
“Say please.” The older sibling taunts.
“Jamie, excuse you.” I settle the quarrel. “Off you go, the lot of you.” There are faces upturned, waiting for kisses. I press one to each brow. “Take care, sweetie.” He winks as he leaves. “Be careful, okay?” The eager children are already halfway to the curb.
I stand in the doorway and watch.
My presentation isn’t until noon. I will have time. Time to think and reason and twist my head in knots. When I see them again, it will be nighttime.
I will turn off the lights as they go to bed and I will listen to recited bedtime prayers and smile when I hear them speak.
“I love you, Mommy.”
The darkness of night creeps in through the shadows. I curl up in the blankets and let my mind wander—again.
It is easy, too easy. Far too easy to slip away into this un-reality.
But the truth is before me, I can see it clearly. These empty little phrases, these meaningless words, as the years passed by, they have become the things I say that mean the most.
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