My body breaks. It folds and creaks and barely contains the spirit inside it. Daily battles to keep it on an even keel have become the 'just how it is' of my life. And it's good. “Ill advised” was the catch phrase when he came to be. A gorgeous bundle of cells, draining my resources, but filling my heart. Potential personified, his little heartbeat thrummed and became the rhythm of my whole life. “I thought you couldn't!” was the exclamation of friends as they congratulated me. “No, just that I shouldn't.' the whisper answered in my head, but I drowned it out as I danced to the thrumthrumthrum. His outrageous intellect and quiet humor drive me like the battery I need to keep going. Sixteen years and I've never looked back. So sweet was the song, I added another heart to our rhythm and our little trio hums and bops and winds along this life. My health was the price. It is the rent I pay.
My heart breaks. It cries out and begs for mercy where there is none to be found. I can only console it and hope my consolation is enough. And on I go. Toxicity is a killer and I fight it on all fronts. When encountered, I excise the wound and drain it away. Like a warrior, I hone my skill. After more than four decades, I am a master at dodging and drilling and when necessary, retreating. I pull back and never cross those fields that are contaminated with lies and manipulations. So many faces I've left behind on those battlefields, people I loved. The wounds they inflicted were too grave, their sins too great, so I sounded my retreat and never looked back. The fife and drum became all too familiar. My family was the price. It is the rent I pay.
My resolve breaks. It pushes me to the brink and yet I return. I borrow from one and beg from another. I pretend I'm not hungry. I feign calm when a tempest rides the crest of my panic. A week is passed and no time to celebrate surviving it, I press forward into the next. I became an expert at finding a little here and a little there so my boys can't feel the pinch. Somewhere along the way, my pride became nothing, my beloved career an irritation. Left with an untenable choice, I saw an opportunity. Two faces look to me, two burgeoning spirits pushing at the boundaries, struggling against these clay pits we humans set for ourselves. Time warned me not to blink and I feared I would miss it. I pushed away from my desires and looked to their futures. I needed to be here, not out there somewhere making another sale, gathering another accolade... here, where learning to read became learning to live. My career was the price. It is the rent I pay.
The rent I pay is high. It gouges at me, taking away pieces too big to scar over. Its passage leaves rents and rifts, expanses to never be crossed. To keep this life, the one I've designed, built, arranged... I have to pay, and pay I do. I don't complain or lament. I shell over the blood price and hold tight to me those for whom I pay. I'll never look back nor regret one cent. I lay it out with interest and penalties and hold nothing back.
It is the rent I pay. I'll pay it every time.