Don't Forget the Margins

Tag: body

My Life on a Couch: the fifth

In difficult moments, my body remembers to breath. When the wash of whatever is too much comes, I find myself standing still on a sidewalk somewhere, face to the sun or sitting in my grandmother’s parked car 5 min longer than I’d planned on, head on the steering wheel.

I used to hold my breath. Didn’t even realize I was doing it. The sensation was that of missing time. Entireties of seconds absent from memory. I’d remember those moments eventually. Sudden memories. Aisle 9 of the grocery story, like a punch to the stomach. Or waking up in thick sweat in the middle of the night.

My grandmother told my the other day that every night they move her somewhere else. Somewhere off of Bell Road or Grand Avenue in North Phoenix. She says, “I don’t like it because I never know where I’m going to wake up.” I tell her she is in Tucson and she says she knows. She tells me she knows the difference between her imagination and real life.

From left to right: my mother, my aunt (deceased), my grandmother, my grandmother’s second husband (deceased).

Vascular dementia is the result of brain damage from a stroke. It’s mostly likely why my grandmother has started to walk through worlds despite being sharp in all other ways. There’s not enough oxygen now so she’s missing time. She is so thin now. It’s hard to look at it. How else to say it—there is no other way.

I keep breathing because I can feel a weight want to keep me in bed too. And I’ve spent so much time on my feet over the past many years. I’ve figured out so much and resisted anguish. I’ve kept my neck up. I’ve lived. I’ve been better to people. I haven’t been depressed. My life is full of more adoration, more goodness, more love than ever and my grief is trickling from the most common of sources: heartbreak, dying, the experience of having a body.

I’m finding no amount of reasoning, no amount of sleep or healthful chemical levels or meditation or exercise can ward off some sadness.

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My Life on a Couch, #4

It’s been two months now that I’ve been sleeping in a real bed, though I’m still occupying borrowed space. My friend deployed and I’m staying in her high-ceiling-ed studio with all her stuff. Her bed. Her dishes. “You can stay there but problem is I have furniture,” she tells me. No problem here. All my things live in paper bags.

Still, I’m on a metaphorical couch in all the ways. My grandmother suffered a stroke 4 months ago. The morning before I was going to do stand-up comedy for the first time, they found her on her kitchen floor. I’m driving her car now because she lives in her bed, except it’s not her bed either. She’s living in assisted living here in Tucson. She probably won’t go home again. Hard to imagine life could have so many lives within it. She thought she’d need help someday she told me out of the corner of her half-paralyzed face, “but not this soon, it pisses me off.”

All the days watching her starving these past months. You don’t get real food when you can’t swallow. Just mush. Chicken mush. Broccoli mush. I want to eat everything and I do, especially on days where I witness her hunger. I’m eating for both of us, remembering all the moments I starved my girl body. And for what? I will never do it again.

Home is right behind you.

I’m spun up on uncertainty and remembering moments I can’t take back. I can still see the drop of my last love’s face as I turned away on the busy night avenue. A turned back and a path away from something you walked with for years is kind of like death. I wonder if I’m awake enough for these times. I go to my grandmother every week and I lay my head on her body. I touch her skin and I give back all the massages I tricked her into giving me when I was young(er). My hands have grown so strong I have to be careful not to bruise her.

She is in a bed that is not her own. These things happen all the time—faculties lost from people who could never lose them, who would never lose them. They lose them anyway. People who spend years of their life not needing a damn thing from anyone, one day need everything from everyone.

People we love leave us and we let them or we look away. I’m looking straight at her, my grandmother, and every week I’m scared to go back but I do. I lay my head on her body. She tells me I’m sweet. All my life ’till now I don’t think she knew me.

 

I’m Trying Not to Think About Vulnerability.

True vulnerability, the kind that runs through a person like a torrent, makes my shoulders ache and my neck stiffen. Do you understand what I mean when I say the phrase, “open your heart”? It sounds so cliche’ in my mind and yet I can bring the technique into situations where intimacy is not really required of me. I can “open my heart” with the a little distance and I truthfully only like to be vulnerable when I’ve had ample time to think about it. What a shit for my romantic relationships.

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I’m saying something about boundaries and something about bodies. The rain was falling fast and hard on Campbell Boulevard and the streets were already flooding by the time I got my groceries back to where I’m house-sitting. The dry earth isn’t used to taking in so much at once.

I’m thinking about vulnerability and its relationship to the body. The thought is too fresh, to painful to consider. When Alton Sterling’s vulnerable body was shot, you got to wonder what got him killed? Was it the gun on his person? Or was it two white cops taking advantage of a vulnerable black body in America. In reaction to this murder, I am not vulnerable. I am a white female-bodied person. This doesn’t directly “affect” my body. But one body is all bodies. Don’t white people realize we are all connected?

I’m trying not think about vulnerability. I’m trying to feel it. Take it into my body so I can surpass the desire of my mind to make sense of the non-sensical. You can’t make sense of this. You have to feel it. You have to feel it. You have to feel it.

And you have to say it. Say his name. Alton Sterling. Say their names. I’ve been silent because I didn’t know what to say. I thought I couldn’t but I have to. We have to.