On weekends, she wandered across late-80’s on-trend gray-carpeted floors, regarding the mauve sectional they bought after hours of agonizing over seating choices. She walked right through the living room to the front door and peered listlessly out into the blinding-bright Phoenix sun. Then back again, this time through the kitchen with its white tile and whitewashed-mauve cabinets, over to the family room that the house’s one visitor said needed personal touches (tchotchkes, she thought — yuck) and then it would feel like a home.
She wandered because there was nothing else.
No long streams of adding-machine tape to pore over, looking for the one mis-entry that kept everything from adding up. No yellow bags of Lay’s potato chips to pretend into non-existence, to remove any temptations, since she knew that one bite (of anything) was poison and fatness and also a gateway to desperate binging to quell the ever-present inner emptiness she avoided feeling at all costs. No books to read except for the worn copy of Butterfield 8 that arrived in the mail from Chris with a cryptic statement: “she reminds me of you”.
She wandered because she didn’t belong.
Oh, the gray-carpeted floors were hers, as were the mauve sectional and the white metal day bed (with gold finials) in the guest room and the bare tchotchke-free walls and the trendy mauve pleated shades on the windows. It was all hers, technically, since it was her money combined with his that made this Dream House possible.
And yet it wasn’t. Nothing was. Not even herself.
And now, and now, three decades later, the man, the house, is long gone. The wandering starts again. That woman has become this one.
This time the wandering is over Pergo and area rugs, while gazing at multicolored paintings I made myself, looking out onto the wide green world. The details changed but the inner part, the nugget, the kernel of that life-long pain from the long, missed grasp of belongingness, fingertips barely there but slipping off soon after because when you are a person who Doesn’t Belong, there’s really nothing you can do except howl at the pain and injustice of it all.
This time I wander in my mind, my imagination. I pretend I feel connected to this place, this house, but now I wonder whether my lifelong sense of non-belongingness isn’t connected to a place but rather to a person — me.
Maybe I don’t belong anywhere. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe that’s my superpower.