48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Posts Tagged ‘Jane Eyre’

Essay #43: welcome

In Love on January 2, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Welcome: admitted gladly, freely invited or permitted; synonyms: comfortable, wanted

Last night I watched Cary Fukunaga’s film version of Jane Eyre. It opens with Jane running across the moors in the rain, periodically falling to the ground weeping. “Jesus,” I thought. “What a loser. Running around without gloves, not bothering to keep her cape closed or the hood up.” Of course she washes up on a friendly doorstep, not quite fatally ill, and recovers.

When I was 17, in the middle of a fight, my mother told me she had found another house to live in. There was no room for me. Devastated, I ran out the door, jumped in the car, and drove to find my boyfriend. “Let’s move in together,” he said. A friendly doorstep!

Unfortunately, I believed that if your own mother doesn’t want you, you’re lucky if anybody does. If you’re not welcome at home, it’s a miracle you’re welcome anywhere.
This is what is known as faulty logic.

For decades I was convinced that my welcome could wear out at any time. At home, at work, with friends, lovers, family — I could never rest, or get comfortable. I had to be ready to go at any moment. In order to survive, to protect myself, I thought I had to know which way the wind was blowing, what people were thinking, what they might do. My natural sensitivity became extreme.

Today I tried an experiment. What if I were welcome… everywhere?
What if I did not need to know what others had up their sleeves?
What if my paramount concern was my comfort? my happiness?
What would that be like?

Turns out, I would be like Emmett. You’re having a party? Here I am! You’re going for a walk, a drive, a bike ride? Let’s go! He always assumed he was a part, not apart.

Do I ever welcome myself?

When I listen too long to a neighbor’s chatter instead of saying, “Gotta go,” I put her comfort ahead of mine. When I plan a party I don’t want to host, who am I considering? Not me.

Who is wandering the moors instead of sitting by a fire sipping brandy, saying, “Look, this is not working. You have got to let the mad woman out of the attic.”

Come in from the cold. The fire is lit.