What She is Made Of – my first real attempt at mixed media
I had only just turned 17. It was February, give or take, and I was several months pregnant, which may account for my slightly crazy act of heroism (protective instinct and all).
My mom and I were driving home after dark, and as she turned the corner of our street I saw the violence taking place. I remember shooting upright in the passengers seat, twisting to watch as we drove to our home about 7 houses away.
There was a fire in me that I couldn’t stop, that I’m not even sure my mom could stop (or maybe I just couldn’t hear her try).
As soon as our car stopped in the drive, my door was open and I was running toward them.
Two young men, scary looking men – the kind you’d imagine in a gang or in a dark alley somewhere – were smashing another man’s head into a rock on the lawn of the corner lot.
And none of that registered as something to avoid. I wasn’t scared of those men. I wasn’t scared of the blood. I wasn’t scared of being hurt, even newly pregnant.
I was just running at them, shouting at them, with no thought in my mind of what I’d do when I got to them, but no way my feet would carry me any other way. I remember looking back at my mom, standing and watching me (did she call my name? is that why I had turned back?). I remember knowing this was my role that night, and maybe even thinking she knew that too.
The men heard me, saw me running toward them and placed one finally blow to the man on the lawn (which pissed me off and shot me forward faster) before finally taking off.
I don’t remember much of what came after, although I know I yelled for a woman in a window to call the police, angry that she hadn’t come outside with a bat long before this moment. I know I stayed by his side, surveying his wounds, touching his arm, afraid to move him and talking to him until the paramedics arrived.
But mostly I remember the look in his bloodshot, slightly unfocused eyes. I remember seeing something in them, like recognition or surprise – perhaps at exactly who had chased off his assailants, a tiny young girl without fear. I think he said something to me, but I can’t remember what it was. I can’t remember my words to him either.
I think back on that night from time to time and wonder at my fearless self.
How a young pregnant girl could set about to save a man she didn’t know without hesitation or alarm, as if it were the most expected thing for her to do.
I’ve never found myself in a situation quite so big, but yet I’ve found myself overtaken by fear again and again. Freezing in the terror of some near disaster, overcome by the thoughts of rejection or looking stupid at some choice.
And I have to wonder what happened to that girl, the one willing to chase off the villain with nothing but the fire in her belly.
Was it only the hormones moving me, or was it bigger than that?
What makes a woman bold and certain in one moment, and timid and shrinking away the next?
I suppose the same thing that makes the hoodlum run from you in the dark of the night, instead of turn and fight you too: your own wild fight within you. The light you carry with you when you move from your Truth.
That’s some scary shit to those who shirk in the shadows.
There have been times since that night when I need of remind myself of that young girl. Times when I lose myself and question my place in this world. Times like we all experience with the natural ebb and flow, in and out of our own Self.
I remind myself of her matter-of-factness.
The way her feet pounded against the pavement.
The way her voice boomed through the night.
The way her fire propelled her.
When I question my path, I remember her and the knowing she had of exactly what she was meant to do without the voice of doubt nipping at her heels. When I question my ability, I remember her and how she found exactly what she needed the moment she allowed herself to shut out the fear and listen to only what was being asked of her.
When I question the power of a single choice…well, I remember him. The way his eyes came into focus on my eyes, the way his body felt against my own.
Sometimes the impact we have on another is palpable, obvious, immediate…
And that makes our choices simpler (although maybe not always as unflinching).
And sometimes we don’t get to hold the hands of the people whose lives we just changed, don’t get to look into the eyes of those whose lives we may have just saved.
Sometimes there isn’t a fire that blazes up within us, compelling us to run with fury and instinct, to protect or roar, or fight if it comes down to it.
But that doesn’t mean that wild woman isn’t within us all the same.
And that’s what I remind myself the most: what I can do when I give no thought to anything but what I can do.
That this is Who I Am when I allow myself to blaze: burning and growling and damn scary to the night.