Kill Bill is my favorite movie. Followed closely by Kill Bill 2. I’m not a Tarantino fan though. I thought Pulp Fiction was kind of sophomoric and Reservoir Dogs was gratuitous. But Kill Bill blew my mind and spoke to parts of me I didn’t even know I had. I wasn’t a mom at the time, but something spoke to that yet-to-be-awakened primal caretaker beast that us females have growling quietly beneath our surface. The inspiration to be that kind of single-minded, purposeful, unstoppable warrior has never left me.
That is not to say I have actually been a warrior in my life, I just continue to be inspired to be one. Which is just code for saying I am scared and probably a little lazy and the path of a warrior would require energy and resolve – and right now I am super short on both of those things. My husband of 14 years and I recently separated and I’m living in a new town with my daughter. (He lives nearby because we decided neither of us could be far from her, though he and I have been on different planets for most, if not all, of our relationship.) I feel raw and strange and empty and excited. I make really, really bad decisions sometimes about how to handle the newness of this separation and the total quiet of my life when my kid is with him. It is really, really, really quiet when she’s gone. Sometimes I smoke and drink and trash my body with junk food and I feel like there’s no end to the poison dump I’ll endure just to not feel a morsel of space in me. Sometimes I run on the beach and enjoy a good sweat and drink cucumber juice and cry in my kitchen freely. Sometimes I look in the mirror and have no idea who is staring back. Other times I look in the mirror and think she and I can take baby steps and fall and get up and take baby steps again.
I was pondering Kill Bill recently, thinking about the bad ass moments where she destroys bad guys under impossible circumstances. And then I remembered the scene that was the most dramatic to me, the one that has stuck with me over all the others and one that means the most to me now. When she wakes from her coma and drags herself to a car, still unable to use her lower half from being bed ridden for so long, she climbs in the back seat and stares at her feet. She reflects on the awful things that have been done to her, what she’s going to do to the awful people who did them and the grand way in which she’s going to do it. She looks at her legs, which are not working, and starts talking to her feet. She channels all her energy into getting her muscles to work because without that basic step, without that happening first, she will be powerless to seek revenge.
“However,” she says, as she’s thinking of the retribution to come, “before satisfaction can be mine, first things first…wiggle your big toe.” The screen shows her feet not moving, followed by her repeating the command. Finally, her big toe moves and she smiles. “Hard part’s over,” she says.
Hard part’s over. That is how I feel about making the decision to separate, making the decision to write this first blog post, making the decision not to smoke today. They aren’t glamorous motions, not broad strokes or powerful gestures. They are small steps, but those are perhaps the most important ones because they are the hardest. They are quiet moments that no one sees, the struggle that is anonymous but monumental. Uma Thurman in the back of a van talking to her feet. The pain that is small enough to fit right behind your eyes and in your chest, but large enough to swallow your world.
My notion of a warrior now is someone who understands that before they can slaughter hundreds of bad guys with a big sword, they must first wiggle their big toe. I still don’t see myself as a warrior and perhaps it’s better if I don’t. That way I will continue to strive to be one. Anything that first puts us on the path is the most righteous gesture of all.