I fear I’m becoming one of those middle-aged Midwestern moms who decides to finally tell the truth about her life instead of taking a trip to Tuscany or adopting a kitten or fucking who she’s always wanted to fuck all along. You know the type. She has a bookmark or a bag with those beloved lines from that Muriel Rukeyser poem:
What would happen if one woman told the truth about
The world would split open
Turns out, though, if you write about when you first discovered sex or when you knew the violence visited upon you was soul-crushing or that you further entrenched inequality by saying nothing, doing nothing or that the trip you took somewhere “exotic” is someone else’s home and that you didn’t really have to go anywhere to “find yourself” or how motherhood wasn’t for you or gutted you and fulfilled you or fucked you up (or fucked them up) or hurt more, felt more exquisite than you ever thought it could, the world doesn’t actually cleave in two as predicted.
In fact, the world plods along as we all live out our own personal versions of Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.” He isn’t really dead, you say? I’m still married. I’m still making beef stroganoff in a Crockpot and boiling egg noodles al dente and taking early-morning walks with other middle-aged Midwestern moms who nod at one another in passing as thundersnow approaches—the sky a subtle beauty of glittering grey—just so we can be alone with our thoughts for a silent, sacred second, even if we are forsaken by the elements or our families, whichever comes first.
*Inspired by Aileen Weintraub’s tweet on December 16, 2020
Michaella A. Thornton’s writing has appeared in Brevity, Complete Sentence, Creative Nonfiction, New South, Southeast Review, among others, and she will gladly take all the cannoli. She calls St. Louis, Missouri home. You can find her procrastinating and dreaming @kellathornton.
This is absolutely beautiful in its prose and in its meaning. I resonated with this all, even though I’m a PNW mom. Will be sharing this with my CNF class.