By Kallie Kanter
When I can’t sleep there is usually a reason. I check off every cause on the Journal of Neuroscience sleep deprivation list — emotional, physical, behavioral stressors (every mountain to molehill category — e.g. money, job, men, health, traffic, neighbors, DMV lines, smudgy mascara, Santa stole my parking spot . . .). Like for many women, sleep is a luxury and yet a necessity. Our bodies (love) need it to replenish our cells and our souls, but we jam pack our smart-whatever gadgets to be smarter than we think we are and schedule our e-lives away. I have now calculated that I can manage to cram in 4.25 hours of sleep daily, if I am really lucky and all goes according to my Gannt chart (auto remind Microsoft Project template on my PC linking to my mobile app alert). So, back to the sleep (minds wander when sleep deprived and not just older age). For those waking hours when I should sleep but can’t, I write.
Since my data geek day job is the complete opposite of creative wannabe night hobby (Left brain meets Right brain), the pent-up demand pours out on pages of purged thoughts — sometimes to pen and paper/napkin/CVS receipts, sometimes to pc and tablet/kindle/iphone, whatever is handy at that critical use-it-or-lose-it time of “inspiration”.
I wrote The Walls after sharing 7 sleepless nights with my sister long distance — Atlanta to Detroit (I am eternally grateful to T Mobile for their new unlimited talk, text plan for $50). She had just finalized the 2 year, 7 month and 3 day divorce deliberations after a 20-years of the wedded bliss and two kids, 3 dogs and a whole lot of house in need of junk intervention - broken toys, unopened white elephant-ready gifts, moldy pizzas…all sandwiched between the reams of scrapbooks, VHS tapes, and boxes of non-categorized black-and-white instant Polaroids. She was a mess and the blame game was shining like a boxer’s blow in a Hall of Fame fight between David & Goliath (mostly she beat herself up about anything and everything gone wrong in her marriage, invoking my War of Roses and a few other metaphors).

It was sad to be spectator (me); sadder to be a participant (her).

I have never been married (and I am over the ripe-but-not-bearing-fruit age of 35), or had children, so for me this “watch phase” of the divorce process was about absorbing — like a paper towel; dunk it, fill it, wipe it up, wring it out (the dirty stuff) then repeat. The best and most I could hope for was to be a good listener and learner — to pay attention and lyrically write what I heard through the words. I paraphrased, taking all liberties, my pro-bono interpretation of her divorce story through the Wall Whisperer.

Nodding and hugging in between sobs (and emotes), and virtual hand holding through thousands of daily tweets, midnight Skypes and weekend emails from hell and back (ATT’s reach-out-and-touch is just not the same in cyber space). She is my one and only sister; our bond set before we were born and long after we die. We are both bent but not broken.

When I wrote The Walls, I thought of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s book on the stages of Death & Dying, where she writes of the phases of grieving and moving onto to final acceptance. There are necessary pathways for managing crisis, though the steps aren’t in paint-by-number, they are milestones to measure progress. The Walls is dedicated to my soul sister, my sibling, my sinner and saint (bff) friend forever — and for those who are in need to feel and heal and find hope; to give in and move on. For anyone who seeks comfort and contentment in knowing that their journey in life is a process not an event. There is really no right or no wrong answer for the Why’s or the How’s. We live, we learn, we adapt, we turn the page. We make the best of the worst situations and make peace with our imperfections.

To anyone interested who has loved and lost — for whatever reason, my humble message to you is: Tear Down Those Walls (thank you Ronald Reagan for making that phrase universally relevant and non-copyrighted). Begin the New build.

With Well Wishes from the Wall Whisperer.

By Kallie Kanter
4/9/2013 Revised 8/15/2013
The wedding picture on the table
Mocked their life
As much
The two who became
Without the other
Whose minds no longer touched?
Their bodies
Were cold and miles
The lives once pieced together
Now live in parts
They subsisted
with such heavy barricades
Between them
Neither the battering
Nor hits
Were rams made
Words said
Words left in bed
Words unspoken
Words broken
Words of dread
It was the absence
Of something
The presence
Of nothing
That no artilleries
Of touch
Could break down
Or be heard
As much
Of anything
Throughout the years
they managed
The commitments
broken fence
job bids
Home maintenance
torn cartilages
dollars and cents
all the dos and dids
But their quality of life
Slowly unraveled
The tangled ball of string called
And as they tugged at the
Stubborn knots
In their separate hands
Who is the victor and who the victim?
They ignored the
They each hid
from the other
no bother
or better
to lie
or avoid
than holler
until one or the other

Sometimes she cried
At night
And he begged to just lie
All night
within her
She begged the whispering darkness to tell her
Who she was
The sinner
Or the saint
While he lay beside her
Snoring like a hibernating bear
She in restraint
He unaware
Of her winter
The ghost of
‘Just because’
The complaints
Once after they had made love
He wanted to tell her how
Afraid he was
Of dying
But fearful to show his naked soul
He gave up before trying
He spoke instead of the beauty of her breasts
Or her hair’s glossy shining
How great Randy did on the math tests
Or Suzy’s first bike riding

She took a course on modern art
To fill her time
To separate her soul
Or to start
Something in her prime
She looked to find
Herself in colors on canvas
Pencil and pen
Complaining to the other women
About men
She was not alone in her condemns
They all seem insensitive cads

And he climbed
climbed into a tomb called
The Office
His new pad
Wrapped himself in his mind
And a shroud of paper figures
Along with figures
of the female kind
Neither gave him the sign
And customers he buried himself in
Gave only nickels and dimes
Slowly the crime
Like many of the other younger lads
He’s doing his time

The walls
The walls that rose
Cemented Wars of Roses
And the only thing anyone really
Knows is
the mortar of indifference
One day
In late autumn afternoon
They reached out to each other
But there was nothing to hold on to
There they found the barrier
Like surround sound with no view
And neither could penetrate
But what’s scarier
is each
Recoiled from the other
Harsh and cold like stones
Each retreated from the stranger on the other side
Of the bed
In the head
Oh the dread
Mouthed the sound
Of moans
But nothing
- Again
And no one
- Again
Was ahead

For when love dies,
It is not in a single thing
A sole moment of angry battle
Not when fiery bodies lose their heat
Nothing of significance to tattle
It lies in panting
At the bottom of a wall
It could not scale.

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