A Plea to be Shown Up for

I want to be shown up for–

Not like school or Sundays in church where my parents dragged me into the pews.

I’m not an obligation you resentfully attend.

I want to be shown up for like seeing the Grand Canyon, and yeah, maybe I am not as great as the Grand Canyon but I want affection that treks miles for the sight of me because pictures aren’t presence.

I want to be shown up for like a sunset on a hot summer night where we all grab picnic blankets and cold drinks and watch the sky fade from blue to peach lilac, gilded rays across the horizon. I pray for the kind of presence that makes an event out of an ordinary moment.

The showing up I want has the unmistakable sound of sirens– even when it’s sampled in a song, cars pull over. And it’s not dramatic like that, but just as identifiable.

See here’s the thing– in high school and college, people rarely attended my performances and races and events. I once sat at a scholarship luncheon where none of my teachers nor parents attended. I sat there alone. The year after my grandma died, it was the Grandparent’s breakfast at my grade school. All my classmates toted their grandparents around, and I had no one. I remember how it struck me, “nobody will claim me like this again”. Senior year of college, my sorority had a mom’s weekend, and mine never showed. She didn’t tell me. She just didn’t come. So, reader, you see that I have a complex about this, that all I have hoped and prayed for is someone to call me theirs and be there when it matters.

I learned the art of showing up for myself. If doing things scared and alone is in the Olympics, I am taking gold. My life is a variety of net-less feats with no cheering crowd and many consequences. A lot of people go through life like that. A lot of us have an emptiness in our chests so vast it echoes to remind us its there.

I am not saying I am not loved. I am profoundly loved in a million ways, but it gets old to be loved from a post card’s distance. The love I’m used to is never higher than second on the priority list. I’m flexible from contorting myself into every shape to squeeze into other people’s calendars. What’s it like to be loved without all this effort? What’s it like to just be and affection awaits you?

Because I’m not the Grand Canyon or a summer sunset. I’m Marisa. Just exhausting, loud, garish Marisa. Most days, I feel great about that, never wanting to be anything or anyone else. This is not one of those days. Today, I am fifteen years old and trudging through 6 inches of snow on my way home in my slippers because my dad didn’t feel like picking me up. I’m 19, and my mom calls me at 10pm when my sorority house closes at noon the following day to tell me that she won’t come to pick me up and I have nowhere to go. Showing up for me has been an option even to those who were responsible for doing it.

So I hide. I make it my fault no one can hold my space because they never know where I am. Piling on a degree, certifications, correspondence, planning– I bounce across a thousand planes. But the bouncing has to end, and in the stillness, the sad finds me.

I ache to be shown up for, and I’m both so used to and so afraid of it not happening. I trace every wound that I cannot call abandonment because someone would have to show up to then leave. It doesn’t happen a lot. Tonight is one of those rare nights deflated in disappointment so all the sad creeps in. All my childhood wanders in, even church where I rarely ever go.

And I, the heretic daughter,

Pray for God to show up for me,

pray for a flicker of light, a sign, evidence that I am not the only entity holding space for myself.

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