Open Door

Open Door

Monday, August 26, 2013

Pot of Gold

 I wrote this piece for my daughter to perform at a Debate competition.  She never used it, but I fell in love with the piece and wanted to share it:


         When I was a child, I always looked up, searching the sky for a double rainbow and the happier days finding one would certainly bring.  Daddy once told me a pot of gold sat in between the identical bands right at the base and it was mine for the taking.
“If you can just imagine it, lassie,” He’d say and I was convinced I would be the one to change our luck.  Our family was unfortunate in the luck department, but I was going to change all that.  We would never want for anything and our heartache would be replaced with a contented feeling swallowing up the empty spaces.  
Momma called the idea ridiculous, but she was too busy looking at the rain falling over her head to ever notice hope.  She didn’t like living in a shabby trailer in the middle of a pile of garbage.  The ugliness blinded her.  She never saw the flash when clouds would separate—how the light filtered through the grey, coloring away the drab, if only temporarily.  In those sacred moments, something stirred within me.  The colors were magnificent—a divine gift restoring my faith that anything was possible.
Yes, I believed in the pot of gold.  Daddy was the only one who understood why—I believed because I was born with a dreamer’s heart. 
Once upon a time, Daddy had been a dreamer too.  Maybe that’s why Momma pursed her lips whenever I showed any signs of sky-gazing, but it wasn’t always so.  There were old photos of their younger days hidden inside a chest.  Sometimes, I would sneak into their room to steal a glance when Momma was busy frowning at clouds.  When Daddy and Momma were first married, his head tilted upwards.  Staring at the heavens, he was waiting for his big chance, but with each passing year, disappointment had his eyes lowering ever so slightly.  Until one day, he barely managed to look past the soles of his shoes.  All of his aspirations were lost, torn away by the storm inside of Momma.  My eyes had seen firsthand, just how destructive she could be.
“You’re dreams will never amount to anything.  You’re a loser, just like your father was before you!” she would scream at him, pointing at an empty refrigerator, or waived past due notices under his nose.
He never stood up to her, just stared at the ground as the tears ran down his cheeks.  It’s hard to raise your head when someone is always pulling you down with expectations you will never live up to. 
“Why do you love her?” I once asked.
“Your mother is my rock,” he replied—like the word “rock” explained everything.  The answer made me angry.  He wanted me to chase rainbows, but he wasn’t strong enough to weather the storm.
He started drinking when I was ten and I wanted blame him for checking out, but Momma did enough finger-pointing for both of us.  Funny, how her contentment grew as the lines of despair creased into his leathered face, like his unhappiness fed her storm.  Didn’t she notice the way he was suffocating under all her pressure?  Daddy was a bird, broken and lost.  He was meant to soar, but Momma’s turbulence had torn his wings.  He had survived, but he would never fly again.
Time went by, and I watched daddy sink a little lower each day.  One day I found him lying in the street.  It was raining but there were no rainbows in sight.  He was sick and miserable and I wondered if dreaming would bring me the same fate.  I started to doubt in the pot of gold.  What if momma was right and thoughts of more contented days were silly?  What if daddy’s aspirations really were his downfall?  The thought made my dreamer’s heart heavy with disappointment.  Suddenly, my head started pulling down under the weight of my feelings, and momma was happy.  Of course she was happy.  My mind was growing more sensible, more like her.  Daddy became even gaunter with illness and I hated him!  I hated him for making me believe in rainbows!  I hated him for lying to me!  I hated him for dreaming, but most of all, I hated him for leaving me…
  I was only sixteen.  Certainly not old enough to weather the storm.
After daddy died, I never even looked to the sky.  What was the point?  There was no pot of gold waiting for me or any other form of hope.  My dreams weren’t special and even if I found my double rainbow, I’d never find my heart’s desire waiting for me.  The darkness descended in the form of rainclouds pouring misery over my hanging head. 
Years went by.  I married and had a child of my own. I forgot about rainbows and thoughts of better days.  Much to my dismay, I found my daughter to be foolhardy.  Her dreamer’s heart refused to be sensible.  I wanted her to be more like me—a practical woman who was constantly planning a way to weather the inevitable clouds.  
One day I went outside and my daughter was standing in the rain again, staring up at the sky in wonder.  I stalked after her and started to drag her in.
“You’re ridiculous, gawking at the sky in the middle of a storm!” I yelled at her, but she wouldn’t budge.  Frowning, I glared at her then up at the clouds in accusation. 
In that moment, something amazing happened and everything changed. 
The darkness separated ever so slightly, allowing a silver light to shine through, and there it was!  A double rainbow—shining over the crown of my daughter’s golden head.  My treasure sat in front of me for all those years, and I only had to gaze up. 
Finally, I saw her for the precious gift she was.  Laughing at myself, I grabbed her hands, spinning her around.  We giggled and danced as the droplets sprinkled our cheeks, masking my tears of happiness.  After a while I sat down on a blanket of wet grass.   I noticed it was green as I held her close, happy the storm had came and the rain had fallen.

“You see that double rainbow right there?” I whispered into her ear.  I thought of the day I learned about rainbows.  Thinking of my daddy, I shared my dreamer’s heart.