I was chopping vegetables for dinner, silent tears running down my face.
I had just gotten off the phone with my sister. It was cancer.
She was terrified and feeling alone, despite the love I tried to pour through the phone. All I could do was listen and witness her pain. Be a witness to her strength. To the woman she was before this label she was already chafing against: cancer patient. I had held it together for her but after hanging up, broke down. All that was left now were tears and the sound of the knife on the cutting board.
My husband came home. He walked in, set down his backpack, glanced at me and went about his business.
As I cried, he checked his voicemail. Got himself a drink. Went through the mail. When the tears did not stop after 20 minutes, he asked me what was wrong. He stood about five feet away, as if my grief might be contagious. When I told him Anne had cancer, he said with a very distinct remoteness, “Oh. I’m sorry to hear that.” And walked out of the room into the office, shutting the door.
Something in me clicked.
I had, of late, become somewhat resigned to feeling lonely in my marriage. I had struggled for years over the right thing to do. I stayed mainly for my kids and if I am completely honest, also because I was terrified of being in the world again without financial support. But that night, I knew I deserved more. More respect. More love. More understanding. More dignity.
And so I followed him into the office and asked quietly, “Do you still love me?” His answer was no. He thought our marriage was damaged beyond repair.
My Before had just ended, and at my own hands. And the first of many Afters had begun.
Kristine at candidkay
I had my feet up on the couch, willing the bleeding to stop. I couldn’t find any pads last night but remembered the spare diapers I kept for my nephew’s sleepovers. They were perfect. What a word. Perfect. I suppose I should have this down by now. I changed out the diapers every hour, at times faster. The empty trash bin had filled, blood-sodden, overnight. Today my back yearned for something soft underneath as the pelvic ache grew louder.
The doorbell rang.
My body refused to move but I was waiting for a package to sign for, a gift for Dad. I tried not to think about the rush in my pants when I got up and shuffled, exhausted, to the door. Outside the window stood a man with a pen behind an ear, clipboard in hand. Damn solicitors. He waved hopefully when he caught sight of me. I waved back an angry dismissal and slapped the blinds back against the pane. I was losing my baby, my life a promise of barren existence, and he just wanted my money.
I can do this. It’s a numbers game. Hit 20 homes – that’s at least three sales. 30% commission. Everyday and I’ll get us a two-bedroom and move Janie to a better school. When Laura gets her raise I can go back to one job.
This one looks good. The biggest house on the block. Car in the driveway but no answer. Man, I wanna get home for dinner. Try it again. There you go, I knew you were home. Oh, come on. At least give me a minute. Some people are so rude.
I recently heard a playwright on NPR who, in reference to racial conflict, said we walk into one another’s story everyday. Black people often find themselves trapped in the white imagination when they stumble into fear and ignorance. But it isn’t only across race and color lines that we do this. Every house, every apartment is a story box. We don’t know what just happened behind those closed doors, don’t know who is dying behind that smile. As you read this, a couple is exchanging wedding vows. Some bloggers are cracking jokes. A child’s stomach knots in hunger. A man tosses dirt over his wife’s casket. A girl just landed her dream job. A father of four lost his. Not only was the salesman clueless about the woman’s situation, she was in no position to come out. She didn’t have the wherewithal to step out into his story. We ask and sometimes the answer is no. And it has nothing to do with us.
Hi, you have a brand with organic ingredients for the lips? The color I have in mind is a cross between plum and raspberry. No, a little brighter than that but not pink. Would you have it as a lip liner? Matte but creamy.
(Eh, a little lighter than I wanted.)
Oh, I wish I were a man.
“Mimi, what do you wish for the most?”
I couldn’t speak. The question distilled my deepest desires down to sudden tears that stung.
Only later did I realize the knee-jerk response hadn’t been to play with The Royal Philharmonic.
I swallowed the truth that would sadden my niece. To deflect her attention, I whispered,
“What do you wish for, Golden Girl?”
She didn’t hesitate.
“For there to be only goodness and kindness in the world.”
What do you wish for the most?
Mr: So if I start blogging would you proof my posts and promote my site?
Mrs: *Disbelief* You gotta build your own readership.
Mr: Hey, being married to the Holistic Wayfarer must come with benefits. I provide the house you live in.
Mrs: I gave you Tennyson. *Wild card never fails*
Mr: I contributed half. *Shoot*
Mrs: I slaved to build my blog. You think you can just ride on my coattail? I never mentioned A Holistic Journey in my vows.
Mr: *Ten minutes later* I want a cut of the blog royalty later. I’ve given you post ideas.
Mrs: Man does have a point.
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Here’s a neat one-minute run through 100 years of beauty in Korea, an interesting history slide. Another Youtube mentions how the shifting political and economic climate shaped the country’s ideals of beauty. From 1910 through the 40s under Japanese colonialism, Koreans felt their overlords looked more attractive and sought to emulate their style. When the North and South split, the Communist ideology of industry and egalitarianism encouraged the picture of the happy, vibrant laborer while Capitalism imported Western glamor trends into a country that I would add was hungry for development and voice. Do you see your American or European wife, mother, grandmother in the video? I caught an NPR clip last month that noted how both frivolous and serious the world of fashion is. I’m seeing it isn’t just at the personal and cultural levels we make a statement by our appearance. Fashion is also a politico-economic expression of a country.
Once you tap in, the sidebar offers a look at 100 years of beauty in many other countries:
Sorry. Have no photos, people.
Mrs: If I die, you’ll marry someone nicer than me. But dumber.
Mr: This is true. I’ve had enough of smart wives.
Mr: (Caressing wife) Honey, can you…talk 20% less?
Mr: Honey, your playing was beautiful. I was reminded as to why I married you.
Mrs: You need reminders, huh?
Mrs: Gotta blog that.
Boy: Blog it! Blog it! Blog it!
Apr 11, 2015