He sat across the stateline down in Georgia
hearing the same lines I know that run through me
picked up the phone and dialed this long distance
waiting for an answer I’m not sure I wanted
He didn’t ask and I didn’t offer
I held my ground like it was valuable
I’ll cradle my hurt in this broken apartment
and settle in the waiting place
The first time I lived by myself I was 22 years old and just coming out of an abusive relationship. During that relationship I saw most of my friends distance themselves, I watched pieces of my life crumble. My sister who lived nearby and my mom who did not live nearby were emotionally close to me still. They watched my self esteem hit an all time low during that troubled engagement but they stuck by me and waited until I came to my senses. When the smoke cleared and I was ready to leave they came, bought me furniture and set me up in an apartment on my own. It was frightening and exciting all at once.
One night while I was watching my beat up Salvation Army store tv I was seized with a desire to talk to my older brother. He was living in Georgia with a girlfriend at that time. He had broken away from the family in Cincinnati after leaving college in his third year. We rarely spoke by phone but I wanted to talk with him suddenly. I needed to hear from him.
Looking back on it I know now that what I felt was an absence of care. Not that the care from the women in my family was not “enough” it was merely incomplete. I felt, so strongly that if only my older brother had protected me somehow, been there, spoken into my life, that maybe I would have been spared the injury I had received. It was not that I blamed him in that moment, not at all. It was only that I missed him and I realized it just then. I realized just then, sitting on my ragged couch, alone in my apartment that what I needed to hear was his strength, as my big brother.
Unfortunately, as much as I needed to hear him he did not have it to give. He was not in a place to offer me comfort, strength or guidance. He was just as lost as I was. When given the choice in that phone conversation to show my vulnerability, to tell him what I needed…I didn’t do it. He didn’t ask, and I didn’t offer.
I held my old, familiar ground and I left disappointed, waiting.