Walworth: On Human Battlements

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I think about frailty and sensitivity and emotions. I know that I am all of these things, and in ways in excess when compared to a lot of people I know. But I often get told I am hard to read or appear stoic. I think about this as I put on make-up, dress, arrange my pretenses in front of the mirror. I am arming myself, putting up my battlements.

In Chico there are two houses that I know of that boast turrets and the façade of a castle. They carry my mind like soft waves to Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, in particular, Wemmick and his Walworth: “Deeming Sunday the best day for taking Mr. Wemmick’s Walworth sentiments, I devoted the next ensuing Sunday afternoon to a pilgrimage to the Castle. On arriving before the battlement, I found Union Jack flying and the drawbridge up; but undeterred by this show of defiance and resistance, I rang at the gate, and was admitted in a most pacific manner by the Aged.” I can’t help but see the parallels in people. Here is Walworth, a modest and comfortable home where Wemmick is a jack of all trades—he is his own engineer, carpenter, plumber, and gardener—but his comfortable home is dressed up like a mini-castle, painted battlements and all. It is his defensive locale, giving an appearance on the outside that quite differs from the inside.

I think that people are like these castles. We should all know how frail we can be human beings, how much we feel, how much we can hurt one another, yet instead of treating each other with more sensitivity or delicacy we put on our defenses and batter away. How does this make sense? Where is that commonality? The empathy? Wemmick must compartmentalize his life—there is a work-place sentiment, one he carries with him that is portable, and a Walworth sentiment that is permanent and in one place but barricaded from the rest of the world with tiny gothic windows and a drawbridge; facades of defense against the cruelty of this world.

And I am guilty of it. I put on my pretenses just like the rest. I pretend I don’t get hurt by things that cut me deeply. I feel a marble statue that is fluid and gooey with emotion at my very core—but I won’t let you see that. I stand alone, my own Walworth, and feel the pain and utter sorrow of my isolation.

That is hardly a way to live.

And to beat a dead horse on Listener lyrics, “I can’t decide if I should knock down your door, or on it. Say the word and I’ll take a hatchet to your heart, or a pin prick. Cut right through the darkness, pull out the contents, on our knees sorting through the remnants”. Here I am, sorting.

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