I have, in the past, said "epiphanies are bullshit." They just don't happen in real life -- they are the last resort of a fiction writer. "Why! In this story Janie comes to realize. . ." If they happened as often as they are written about we would all be on a perpetual road to Damascus and continually live on the brink of transformation from Saul to Paul and be surrounded every moment by a thousand other Pauls falling to their knees, suddenly blinded by the light of self-knowledge.
So. Now I have to confess: I had an epiphany last week. I feel pretty tacky about it -- the way I feel when I rip off the hokey TV Guide covers and trash them so I don't have to be enraged by Mid-Western schmultz all week. So there's some kind of justice in having my epiphany brought to me by The Simpsons and sponsored by The Heartbeat of America and Bob Evans.
Here's my catalyst: Away from Homer for a weekend, Marge curled small in bed, huddled on her side as all wives do. And then she blinked, sighed, rolled over, and stretched luxuriously across the bed in a way few married women ever do.
Here's my epiphany: A year after he left, I still sleep on "my" side of the bed -- neatly and tidily curled into a small ball using as little space as I can.
Here's my confusion: How can a cartoon character learn in five minutes what I haven't learned in a year?
Well gee, it's just a damn cartoon?
Marge is wiser than I am?
She is on a short trip away from her husband and I have been left?
She revels in a temporary joy and I deny a change that will last?
Here's what happened: I tried to spread out one night and felt so cold and small and lost. I don't know how to sleep on my back anymore. Neatly, I felt like I had been laid out. Sprawled, I was too aware I had not been laid.
Why can't I do this: because I still think someone will come along and fill the space? So why learn to like a whole bed only to go back to curling up tightly so as not to jostle him or irritate him or to brush a not-to-well-enough-shaved leg against him and be scolded for scratching him?
I want nothing of this freedom.
I want to confine myself to a certain space.
I want to be curled small and looked after.
I want to know I don't need the whole bed.
© Sarah Munro 1995, all rights reserved
appears here by permission
Originally published in nexus magazine, v.30:3 (Spring 1995), as the first place winner in the Wright State University Department of English 1995 literary competition.