woman, portrait, model

Why walls are more important than ladies

There’s this common thought that gardens are a place to go for peace and quiet. Some claim that a quiet and peaceful retreat is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
I disagree.
Quiet is a lie.
Quiet is a facade.
You can be quiet for a long time, but the truth is, eventually the world outside reveals your true self. It speaks. It tells you what you are doing, what you have done, and why you are what you are. It shows you.
It’s the reason that you’re not having sex with me right now.
I grew up in a house where EVERYTHING was a debate. Every single thing. If one of our parents didn’t agree with us, we spent hours debating them, and it never ended.

My mother, often, was the only voice of reason. She was the sane one. I remember as a kid, my father would get so angry with her for her “wrong” opinions, that he’d yell at her.
He couldn’t control his anger. So, he yelled at her. And then we’d spend hours debating her.
My mother would argue with her father. The two of them fought constantly. I’m not going to get into the details of the time my grandfather punched my mother in the face and the scuffle that followed, because they were so horrible that I couldn’t even.
I remember every single fight. I hear the echoes of both their voices. I hear the anger in their eyes. I hear the shame in their voices.
And I remember how the fight went.
My mother: “Why don’t you shut up and listen to me? You’re not listening to anything else but your own feelings, and you’re making me a bad person!”
My grandfather: “You don’t want me to shut up. I’m not going to shut up.”
My mother: “You’re not listening to me either. Shut up and listen to me. You’re making me a bad person.”
My grandfather: “Shut up and listen to me. You’re making me a bad person.”
We spent hours and hours and hours.
You’d be surprised how much time and energy can be lost in a small exchange.
It was a small exchange. It didn’t even last an hour. It was just one small thing after another.
But it was so much.
I was young and stupid and caught up in the fog of that time. I didn’t know any better. I believed I was so special that I could be treated this badly.

It was my first time being at this retreat. We’d been invited to a dinner party at a local hotel with a group of people we’d never met before.
So, I walked up the hotel stairs with a confidence I didn’t even know I had. And I said to the person sitting at the end of the hotel hallway table, “Hello, I’m Rachel.”
They looked me up and down.
“Nice to meet you,” I said.
“You too,” they replied.
We got a table, and as we were looking at the menu I asked the waiter to put a bottle of wine on my plate.
Then I said, “May I ask what you’re doing here with me?”
They looked at me like I’d just emerged from the Bermuda Triangle.
They looked confused.
“Friends of ours invited me over for dinner,” I explained. “They’re from a business conference.”
“Oh,” they replied.
They looked at each other.
“Friends of yours invited me?” I asked.
They looked at each other again.
“I’m going to be honest with you,” I said. “I know what you’re going to say.”
They looked at each other again.
“I don’t know why I bothered coming here,” I said. “But I’m here because I need to talk to you.”
They looked at each other again.
“I need to tell you a story.”
And with that, I walked away. I don’t know what I was thinking. I just knew I needed the space to put my guard down.
I walked over to a bottle of red wine on the table and started drinking it while I was talking with this woman. All of a sudden, she stopped me.

“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.
“Nothing,” I said. “Just remembering something.”
I looked at the bottle of wine on the table. “I need to tell you a story.”
“Oh,” she said. “So do you remember the time that a construction worker sodomized a maid who was asleep in his dorm room on my floor?”
She interrupted me.
“Yes,” I said. “I remember that.”
She gave me an incredulous stare.

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