February 22, 2009

when you discover that all along the world has been betraying you




Something like that happened to me as a child, except it was when I realized that the driver was the one who manipulated the directional signals in a car. It wasn't actually the car telling you to go left or right.

I am also come to the realization that the only things that wholly calm me down are Christmas music, a cup of tea and solitude.

My mother tells me I should care about the opinions of estranged relatives. "What for?" I say, rather than ask. Because, they are family is her simple response.
"If they aren't in my life and it doesn't effect my life or how the people I know and love do think of me, then it doesn't really matter to me, their opinions of me. We never see them anyway. We may as well not be related then."
Well, you are a cold one so that way suits you, she says, the way she has always been saying that since I was very young, in a hushed matter-of-fact affirmation that I never know is supposed to be thinly veiled criticism or not. But it comes from my mother so I can only assume that it is. I have learned that at this point in conversation, we are no longer talking about the same thing ever. We are no longer talking to each other. This is not communication. Walk away. Do not attempt to clarify.
It's not uncommon and it's not unique.

I will always wonder if it is very frustrating, to give birth to another life but to never really know that life the way you know your own. In the most literal sense, a part of you escapes or is taken (however you choose to perceive) from your own body and becomes its own separate entity, completely free from your direct control. Is it like, if your hand just detached and went away by itself to a glove store or something? Whatever a hand would be interested in doing.
I wonder if that sort of thing kills a person inside. If they are secretly jealous or resentful. A bit sad at the very least, to have this part of you leave.

It is for this reason I have never imagined having children. Even when I was young and girls that age were picking out names for their future sons and daughters, how many they wanted and in what order. I couldn't fathom the idea of losing myself-- any part of me. It wasn't anything I wanted a part in. It struck me as weird and unnatural. Supernatural maybe. Alienesque.

I vaguely remember a wildly irrational fear of physical contact as a child. A simple touch sent waves of anxious fight-or-flight signals jetting through my body. The shock of unexpected intimacy. To combat this strange uncertainty I made sure to always give firm handshakes and confident embraces. It's like waking a sleeping limb-- the greater the pressure, the faster the buzz subsides.
When I learned about how nerves and nerve endings work in the body, I could picture them in my head. How my insides were a constant freeway of frantic sparks shooting from hand to heart to head to arm to hand again. The brightest flare, being the jump from one nerve ending to another axon, that leap through gray matter that is too fast to fail, let alone detect. If there was some slow motion camera there. You could see that space in between touching. Your body feels and reacts based on those leaps making it to the other side.
It's because of this I've felt that the most intimate spaces are between two opposites very close to each other, but not touching. Knowing that comforted me a little. When you can feel someone's hand hovering over the nape of your neck, or when you are gazing nose to nose, breath on the back of your neck, a body lying next to you emitting heat in darkness. Without physical contact your body will know when to leap. It will never learn if you leap prematurely.