The Seeing

It is true what so many have said before me.

There are moments that mark us.
Moments when we are truly Seen for who we are.

I was 22 and on my way to the marriage
of the person who sexually abused me
through a period of my young life.

He is a family member.
At the time, no one in my family knew about this.

The family was to meet in a large town
in a small European country where the
marriage was to be held.

I was alone on the connecting flight.
Next to me sat a tall white man of about 50.

A conversation started between us.
As my mother had trained me, I posed
many questions and he recounted his life
to me as the ocean slid by below our
little plane.

He was a television producer.
I do not recall his name.

He was interesting and intelligent
enough to keep me in the conversation
for the flight.

And I seemed to please him.
But this was not unusual as I have found
many people are entirely pleased by
people who show genuine interest in them.

At the end of the flight he gave me
his phone number and insisted that I let him
take me out to dinner.

At this point in my life I was a savage thing.
Just recently embarking on a therapeutic
voyage, I was scraping the dirt off the
tombstone of an idea of a family life.

I was restructuring and rebuilding
my being.  I was, as so many do, seeing
who I was and simmering with
the pain of it.

And I had no fear.
I had held the fear by the throat
and was slowly choking it into
a gentle submission.

I called him that night.
He arranged to pick me up
the following night.

He pulled up to the house
in his silver jaguar...sending my mother
into spasms...perhaps she hoped I
would marry rich?  I don't know.
That is her business.

Into the car my savage self slid.
I was ready for a night full of my
questions.  I knew I would leave
him without his knowing a thing
about me.

And I would get a good meal.

And avoid being with my family.

We drove through the city
to his old stone mansion where we sat
in his garden over looking his
tennis court.

His grass tennis court.

And we drank champagne.
Which I didn't like (another story).
But drank anyway.

And I listened to him tell me
about his life.

We then drove to a fine restaurant.
He ordered for me.
And he was right in his ordering.
We were overlooking the ocean.
I was eating a wonderful risotto.
I felt bizarrely beautiful.

Or at least, that I was in
a beautiful moment.

Toward the end of the meal, he turned on me.  Suddenly
he was asking all the questions.
Suddenly I was in a position in
which I had never been.

He seemed sincerely interested
in me.

I don't remember it all.
Just that I was suddenly confronted
with the need for genuine

It was as if someone was reaching
into my bones...and holding them
with a firm and gentle hand.
All the while looking
right through me.

And just as suddenly.
We were in his car.

He reached into his glove
compartment and slid
a cassette into the cassette player.

The then unknown to me voice
of Nina Simone
laid its tone out upon the light
and friendly air that filled
the car.

He said:
I think this is your song.

And Nina sang:

She takes just like a woman, yes she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.

And I did.
I broke.
There in the car.
Before I man I did not know.
Nor would ever see again.

And he held my hand
while I wept.

And I knew I had been seen.


kenju said...

Very powerful.

A.G. said...

wow.... <3

French Shelter said...

Kenju and A.G.
Thank you.
I was worried that it would
be too corny...or hayey...or grassy.

Anonymous said...


French Shelter said...

Thank You Lady Up And Down.

Anonymous said...

I followed the link you left in sister wolf's comments and after reading for a little bit i have to say i'm really impressed. keep up the great work champ *ruffles hair patronizingly*

AlexC said...

That. Was. Beautiful. Thanks.....

French Shelter said...

O Anonymous: I love the anonymous hair ruffle!!!

Alex C:
Thank.You. Truly.

Anonymous said...

You writes beautifully and your post really moves me, hope you are stronger now

French Shelter said...

Anon #2: Thank you so much. I am strong like bull!