Thursday, November 28, 2013

dependency has been a thief at night.

 
This chapter from Elizabeth McCracken's wonderful book - 'An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination' - keeps circling around in my mind...
 
“When I was a teenager in Boston, a man on the subway handed me a card printed with a tiny pictures of hands spelling out the alphabet in sign language. I AM DEAF, said the card. You were supposed to give the man some money in exchange.
I have thought of that card ever since, during difficult times, mine or someone else's: surely when tragedy has struck you dumb, you should be given a stack of cards that explain it for you. When Pudding died, I wanted my stack. I still want it. My first child was stillborn. I want people to know but I don't want to say it aloud. People don't like to hear it but I think they might not mind reading it on a card.
I could have taken my cards, translated into French, to the stores of Duras, where the baker, the butcher, the dry cleaner, the grocery store ladies, had seen me growing bigger and bigger over the months: I couldn't bear the idea of them seeing me deflated and asking after the baby. "Voilà," I'd say, and hand over a card. I could have given a card to the imperious man at immigration in Portsmouth who almost denied me entry into England. To the waiter at the curry house that summer who was always mean to us. To the receptionist at the ob-gyn practice in Saratoga Springs at my first visit. To the nurses who asked me why I was scheduled for such close prenatal monitoring.
To every single person who noticed I was pregnant the second time, and said, "Congratulations! Is this your first?".
To every person who peeks into the stroller now and says the same thing.
Every day of my life, I think, I'll meet someone and be struck dumb, and all I have to do is reach in my pocket.
This book, I am just thinking now, is that card.”
 
This passage is comforting, reassuring, soulful, yet perhaps even a little disturbing? I don't know what my card would say. I'm a suicide survivor? The people I love have a habit of leaving or dyingThere is no easy explanation for my sadness; please don't expect too much of me? I was raped but no one believes me or wants to talk about it? 
 
Situations where I could really use one of those cards:
When Lex tells me to cheer up, and reminds me that, it's been a hard 6 months on all of us. Really? You didn't think I noticed? Just don't overthink things Eri, it's going to be a good summer...
To the optometrist today who asked me to list my medications and somehow gave me such a scolding look that I then felt compelled to lie and say, oh yes, I'm studying occupational therapy, yes, I work at a bakery close by...hoping to pick up more shifts over the summer and then do some more travelling. I couldn't bear clinical complexity anymore.
To the old man yesterday who was asking me about my first sexual experience and told me about his own, all the while with a hand on his crotch.
 
“Grief lasts longer than sympathy, which is one of the tragedies of the grieving.” ―Elizabeth McCracken