Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Nobody Noticed Anything


Years ago, I remember bitching to my friend Erin about my family's intrusive nature, mainly about food, but about other things as well. She told me a story about a friend who spent entire evenings watching television, doing leg lifts and vomiting into a Styrofoam cup. Nobody noticed anything, she said. You're lucky. Of course, one never feels lucky. One feels a bit suffocated at times. Make no mistake -- I was glad not to be carrying around a Styrofoam cup or anything, but I had already become way too aware of my own mind and the way it could serve as a trap even when no one was watching, a sort of mental claustrophobia. I already took a sick pleasure in feeling kind of empty and dead, telling myself in every painful situation, I will not feel anything. But I fell in love easily which ruined my strategy of coldness.

On the night before my wedding, the night that I spent in a one bedroom apartment sleeping on the floor of the living room with my bridesmaids, Erin offered to, um, sleep with me in that other sense of the word. She was my friend Hank's great love, albeit a mostly unrequited one, and that jarred me out of my stupor, and I said, I don't think so. Erin was no looker to put it kindly and if I was going to go that way, I'd had other offers that seemed much more attractive. Not to mention Hank would stab me to death. My other bridesmaid slept soundly on the other side of the room. I knew that I shouldn't get married and that this latest in a string of signs did not bode well. I thought about the girl doing the leg lifts that night, an old story by then, and wondered why she could not stop once she started, not even when really bad television shows came on, shows like Hart to Hart and other real corndog material. But once you begin, how can you know where you should stop? As a child, I was so terrified of missing my bus stop that I often rode to the end of the line because I couldn't figure out where the closest place to home was. My bus driver, Mrs. Bert, would say with great compassion, You still here, little one? Let's get you home. Don't worry, you'll figure it out where to get out soon. And eventually I did.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
“Home is not where you live, but where they understand you.” Christian Morgenson

Cocktail Hour
Goodnight Kiss
Champagne with campari and a dash of bitters. Pour over a sugar cube.

Benedictions and Maledictions
This is for my old friend Mark Mortenson who died yesterday. I remember him well in the last office I worked in at the University of North Texas. His students adored him, as did everyone else. He was forever making people laugh with his crabby attitude and told me ten years ago this month, "Don't move to Detroit, Michelle. We can find you many middle-aged men here that would be equally inappropriate." His stories about living in Milwaukee made me want to go there immediately if not sooner -- dying industrial city, hell yeah! He had the attitude. Many condolences to his family and friends. And this from Catullus, the great poet of unrequited love and grief: "And forever, brother, hail and farewell!”

8 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Sorry to hear about your friend, Mark.

whitenoise said...

a sort of mental claustrophobia

This phrase brought back memories, mostly unpleasant. It made me think about where I've been and where I am now, and about how none of us are static personalities... Things change. People change.

Sorry to hear about the loss of your friend.

Ropinator said...

Your friend must have been very wise. According to your short description he is like a parent. At least when I read your lines , it made me think to my mother.

Cheri said...

My condolences, Michelle.

JAM said...

I'm sorry about your friend. I don't make them very easily, so losing one is like losing family.

I've never known, at least to my knowledge, a woman like leg-lift-girl. Lovely Wife had a cousin thought that was so freaky about her weight, that after every meal she would ask to be excused, walk to her room, shut the door, and for half an hour they could hear her in there doing situps and squats and jumping jacks to work of any calories.

Sometimes I wish I had that problem.

eric1313 said...

Ahh, the poets of unrequited love.

I too wish you the best on this day, it is terrible to lose somebody that we look up to.

I hope you don't lose anymore for a long time, friend.

"I already took a sick pleasure in feeling kind of empty and dead, telling myself in every painful situation, I will not feel anything. But I fell in love easily which ruined my strategy of coldness."

This I know well. What powerful words, as always.

peace out

Tim said...

I'm sorry about your friend Michelle.

Brian in Mpls said...

I am thirty years old and I still haven't learned where to stop. It took me six years to make my way to the exit of my marriage bus even though I knew I should never have said I do in the first place.