Putting out fires at almost 40

Honesty bursts forth from me in fits, in starts.

This is 40.

This may not be 40 for you.

I realize, for you, this may be 43. Or 38. or 67.

I don’t know if it’s temporal, situational, or hormonal, this shift.

It certainly resembles the week leading up to my period with its moodiness, its gentle swaying between certainty and confusion.

There are moments, for instance, when I can’t speak anything but the absolute truth; even when I know it will hurt, even if I know I will pay.

There are moments, too, when I slip into a dark tunnel, the Hadron collider of womanhood: understanding that I can’t have both what I want and what I imagined I wanted years ago. They can’t live together in my world of almost 40. They will combust there together and set me on fire.

The kind of fire that burns people.

I can’t stretch my arm far enough down to reach the me who slipped behind the back of the sofa. She’s choking on dust bunnies down there, but I can’t reach her.

I almost don’t even want to.

“Sorry!” I yell to her; the one who dreamed of lots of babies. I leave her with the dust bunnies, and run off instead to play Hickory Dickory Dock.