I sit amidst beautiful chaos, surrounded by people I love and their wonderful kids that I also love; the smile is ever present, mostly real, but sometimes pasted on. I never imagined that it could be so easy to smile on the outside while dying on the inside. How can it be that there is no place I'd rather be, and I would rather be anywhere else? The joy of seeing everyone is real, but the pain of not having my own family in the middle of the pandemonium is also real. At times, I am worried that the smile might look more like a grimace, but -almost- no one seems to notice and none of the kids seem scared, so it must be good enough. I look up at the ceiling, willing the tears to go back in. Heaven forbid that they should fall.
What I want to do in that moment is slip out the door and run. It doesn't matter where, as long as the road is long and can take me away. Anywhere works. Someplace is also good. I can't do that, though, because someone might wonder or get worried. Plus, I wore the wrong shoes. Nonetheless, the impulse to run is strong, the desire to fill up my insides with the burning of my lungs and to leave no room for anything else. Maybe it would help.
Only, I've had that urge before, and I did run. It didn't work. The pain was stuck. It was not a separate entity that I could get ahead of, it was a part of me. The faster I ran, the more I realized that I couldn't outrun the ache anymore than I could outrun my legs, or lungs, or heart. The pain was still there, it was just harder to breathe. It wasn't merely the good shortness of breath from activity; it was sucking air around the tight and growing lump in my throat. I remember this, but as I sit, I can still barely control the compulsion to run. My flipflops and the fact that I can't be invisible while I go slightly nuts are the only things that keep me still.
I have no choice. So I do the only other thing that is available to me.