Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wound Care

Birthday Cake by Will Clayton
Birthday Cake, a photo by Will Clayton on Flickr.
We begin life mourning. We're thrust into a cold, harshly-lit room, screaming and helpless, no longer weightless and suddenly responsible for our own respiration. We lose our secure quarters--our comfy situation--and straight away, we instinctively try to mitigate the loss. We root and we suckle; we cry until we're soothed.

We get over it eventually. We get over lots of things eventually--best friends who move away; parents who divorce; lovers who leave; parts we don't get to play; promotions we don't get; wishes that don't come true; mistakes we make. I've gotten over quite a bit in my 39 years. Some of it was easy; some of it felt like a fight for my life, but I've always managed to work through loss and pain. I grieve, but at some point I find I've processed the loss and it doesn't hurt anymore. I wish I could say that I've conquered every loss, but I haven't.

My brother died of AIDS in 2006. He spent much of his life in pain. Not physical pain--his heart was broken. He wanted our dad to love him. He wanted people to be kind to one another. He wanted to be able to trust everyone. He wanted everybody to have everything they needed. He couldn't have any of those things and it tore him apart. Especially the part about our dad, I think. This is the part that makes me so sad: He never got any of the good things he wanted and deserved.

You could say I have been mourning for my brother since I was a little girl. I knew he did things that were reckless and dangerous. I knew that he would self-destruct one day, though I thought somehow I might stop him. Maybe he'd think I was too sweet to leave behind. Maybe he'd need to stick around to save me if I was reckless too. I tried. Part of me never gave up. The night he died (technically it was morning--2AM), I was still sure I could make him smile in the morning. Another part of me was braced for the loss. Or so I thought.

He died on March 18, 2006. I cried. I wrote crappy poetry. I spoke at his memorial service. I put one foot in front of the other in a world my brother would never see again. Eventually there was a day when I didn't think about him. Then clusters of these days together. But then something would remind me--A song; my nephew's face at a certain angle; a nightmare; a dedication run--and I would hurt. I'd be angry. I'd wish it was different. I'd want to try just one more thing to make him well.

Last Friday I was coming home late from a work event and I took a route I don't normally take. I ended up at a bus stop right in front of the hospital where he died. It was the first time I had been there since he died. The sights and the sounds and the feel of that night came clawing at me as I stood there freezing. I wished for the bus to come quickly and take me away. I was lucky--in about two minutes, I was whisked away by the #80 Irving Park bus. I thought I was home free, but 20 minutes later, when I was home and in my pajamas, I could still hear the sounds from his room that night. I couldn't distract myself, so I went to bed. In the morning I was startled by how upset I'd gotten the night before--I mean it has been six years. Shouldn't I be over this? Is it normal for me to tear up EVERY TIME I hear Here Comes The Sun? STILL? It is? Okay...

Today was his birthday (well, it was yesterday--it's now past midnight), and I was sad all day. I had been watching this day get closer and closer for weeks and had planned to get through it quickly, without feeling awful. But I had to fight with my tears all day. I had to force myself to focus and be enthusiastic and productive all day. When I finally got home, I broke down. I cried myself a headache. I cried myself empty. I cried until it didn't torture me anymore. I cried until I accepted that this will always be sad--a wound I should care for and not neglect. I'm not going to fight with it tonight. I'm going to take care of myself and go to bed. I'm going to say one more thing: Happy birthday, Andy. I love you.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cut-Throat Commuting

End of the day... by -Tripp-
End of the day..., a photo by -Tripp- on Flickr.
Some of my tweets from yesterday morning:


"People on public transportation who have no concept of personal space make me feel stabby. "


"A woman who carries a purse the size of a chunky toddler on a rush-hour  train should be slapped to sleep."


"Props to me for not choking anyone on the El this morning!"


"I almost couldn't claim this distinction. De-training was pretty cut-throat."


Here's what happened:


To my right was a woman with a giant bag on each arm; and to my left was a woman holding a rail, with her back facing the direction of the doors. I said, "excuse me" to her because I couldn't get around the bag lady to my right. She didn't respond, so I started making my way toward the door and in doing so, I made contact with her and with the bag belonging to the woman on my right. "What are you doing?" she snapped smugly.


"I'm getting off the train."


"Well, I'm getting off too."


"Oh. I said excuse me. I thought if you were getting off the train, you might have responded or turned to face the door."


"Go on, just go ahead of me."


"Okay, I will, but that doesn't make you classy."


*laughter from surrounding passengers*


Yeah, that was kind of bitchy of me, I know. Every now and then, CTA riders get their New York on I guess. The rest of my day was actually quite awesome, so I'm not even sure why I'm telling you about this trivial exchange (other than I haven't blogged in over a month, and this gives me occasion to do so). My job has taken over my life and my son has been home for the holidays, so every moment of my time has been spoken for for a while now.


Believe me, I have tried to carve out time to write, but I've been unsuccessful. I'm typing this at 2:25 AM, while doing a mountain of laundry for my son, on the night before the morning I have to take him back to school. It's shit writing, I'm sure, but I need to do it (apologies if this is MAJORLY boring, folks). I actually started writing about something else, but I'm too tired and too distracted to finish it. 


Anyway, I need to write. And draw. And paint. I feel almost swollen and heavy with unexpressed ideas and images. It's uncomfortable and frustrating. I trust this is temporary. It's temporary, right?


Well, that's it. I'm too tired to write anything insightful or interesting--I just wanted to dispel rumors that I had run off and joined the French Foreign Legion or forgotten the English language. Neither are true. 


I'll keep fighting for time to create.