Body and Mind
I placed a check mark next to the box on the insurance form that said “pre-existing condition.” I placed a check mark next to “nonsmoker.” I placed a check mark next to dog owner, homeowner, married, employed, college educated, drinks socially, and has no savings or family members with money to turn to for help. I placed a check mark next to I want to live to be twenty-six.
Basic goodness is good because it is unconditional, or fundamental. It is there already, in the same way that heaven and earth are there already.
A convent; an ER’s “safe room”; a cage within a cage, inside a prison within a prison
The pills are about the size of a bing-cherry pit in diameter and are a faint green color, like the eggs of some songbirds. On one side they have a deeply inscribed SZ, on the other, the number 789. They are Ritalin, the ten-milligram kind. Imogene knows them by sight because occasionally patients admitted to the psychiatric ward where she works as a nurse have containers of assorted pills, and she has learned to spot the ones that will get her high.
It’s all mixed up for me now with the way I felt about New York: how I hated the subways, …
My sister Melanie won’t let me help with the time capsule we’re making. Four years older and in junior high now, she likes to boss me around. She’s searching the attic for things to put in the box when I give up and head down the stairs. I take the last three steps in one giant jump, then wish someone had seen me.
Feeling less alone — in the pool, in my grief — should be a comfort, but it robs you of something. We are possessive even of our pain. We become it, and even the suggestion that it could be shared is frightening. We want to be alone with it, to caress it and learn to love it like a child, saying, This is mine and mine only.
We carry in our bodies a whole host of hurts, of lonely nights, of tiny slights and insults, of guilt for the slights and insults we’ve inflicted on others. If you’re single, you carry the added weight, the secret shame, of knowing that you are first in no one’s heart. You walk the earth with billions of other people, and you are first in no one’s heart.