Friday, May 13, 2011

A, B and C

It's probably speaks to the kind of person I am, but it's easier for me to remember my worst pains rather than what has really given me the greatest joy. I can cheat and say, "Well, my kids being born. That was my highest point, my happiest moment," but that's not true.

The thing I remember about my children being born was being frightened --of knowing the worst, waiting for the karmic lottery numbers to be pulled and hoping that it would all work out for the best. I also remember being hungry and tired. I also remember having to go to work, resenting the need and feeling ashamed.

Agony is easier. Wounds leave scars. What does joy leave?

The worst was when I was probably three or four. It was an ear infection and it felt like the left side of my head was going to split in half. The sound of infection is white noise, like the off channel on an analog television, like a steady rain pounding on a wooden roof.

The broken arm I got at 15 is a close second. I broke both bones at the wrist, but scarcely felt the wincing snap that everyone around me heard. No, I remember the horror and the jolt when the doctor set it before the pain medication had even started. It traveled along every highway and nerve path in my body.

I still dream about the pain and some nights I jerk awake just before the scream.

I remember my broken hearts, too, but have a harder time remembering what each love affair was --except for need. I remember the desperate need, the craving, the longing. I don't remember the joy so much. It's a struggle to remember the exhilaration, the novelty, the features that made each and every time special. It's easier to remember after; the grief, the sadness, the impenetrable gloom, the despair and the inability to even breath.

I've been trying lately to see beyond that.

My happiest moment was a single day seven years ago that was perfect. Somehow, it was also my birthday, which made it the more special because it was unlikely. Other moments were the five seconds in a pickup truck with the rain pouring down when a woman told me she loved me or waking up in a borrowed bed long, long ago and receiving something completely unexpected at the very beginning of a relationship. There was also a little boy telling me he was my best friend and always would be --twice in the span of ten years --the same words spoken, but by different little boys.

Oddly enough, my happiest moments are things that can not be repeated, which in some ways makes them as painful as the broken arm, the rotting ear, the woman's husband telling me they'd decided to work things out in spite of it all and to never call again.

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