Embodiment of Grief
While the computer talked to the porcelain-shaping machine, and the dentist and assistant had both wandered off, I sat up and found & massaged a variety of trigger-points in muscles of my thighs and calves and forearms. Stood up and stretched. All my life hitherto, when I've been waiting for dentists to finish something, I've just sat in the chair like a lump, considering myself under authority and therefore obliged to be utterly passive. Screw that.
When they were done I walked out with a new crown, happy that I've discovered that novocaine, while doing not much to mitigate what I dislike about dentistry -- chiefly the noise of the drills rattling the tiny bones of my inner ear -- makes me miserable for half a day after an appointment. Now I do without it, and I walk out of the dentist's office perfectly free. Really done. My face still my own.
My fragile mood collapsed at some point. Anger and despair and grief filled me. Bitter denunciations of capitalism, of patriarchy, of monogamy, all the myriad systems by which people establish ownership of other people's time, persons, and affections, rose of their own accord in my mind. Old, old rants, simplistic, out-dated and old-fashioned since the advent of Napoleon, but still rising with huge power. I was filled with malice, like the venemous Rousseau, and believed myself sweetness and light.
Winding myself up farther and farther, wrapping myself up in my own story. There is only one story. Believing in it implicitly. Grieving. Resenting.
This mood too collapsed, and I thought, "why this story? Why not some other, or none at all? Why keep nailing myself to this particular tree?"
I stepped out of the shell of my body. It slumped there like an abandoned rag-doll. I stepped out of the story. Enough already. Let Rousseau simmer in his own juice. I'm not staying here.
No sooner had I stepped out than I was awash in love and pain, soaked in it. Missing you horribly, horribly, horribly. What have I done wrong? Another story threatened to step in smoothly and start to shape itself. Guilt, remorse, resolution, all the stupidities.
No. I don't want it. I don't want it. Damned flies, always drawn to pain, spreading pestilence. Go away. I took a breath, watching it from beginning to end, from the stir at the nostrils to the sinking of the ribs. That's better.
There, there below, that crumpled, miserable body, slumped in a cubicle chair. What's to be done with it?
Well. Pick it up gently, first of all. Sit it upright. So. Pinch the nostrils shut and breathe into its mouth. One breath of love. One breath of pain. One breath of love. One breath of pain.
We're here to teach each other, remember?
And that mood collapsed too.
It's little enough that survives the wreck. Memory, they say, dies with the body. Thank God for small mercies.
Or you could say, with equal truth, it's little enough that gets smashed up. A little engine droning worn-out stories all day, like some infuriating child's toy. The sooner we're done with it the better. That would be another perfectly sensible way to approach it.
But the body brings its own gifts to the party. Its own light, thicker and even more cryptic. Rhythmic hunger. A rush of saliva into the mouth, a rush of blood into the genitals -- renewing the hunger, renewing it multiple times a day. Bringing us back to another kind of simplicity. Back to square one. Muscles hunger for movement. Eyes hunger for sleep.
I close my eyes, feeling the exhaustion in my eyelids. I'm sorry, readers, I know you want me to be suffused with joy and walking confidently into a new future. That will happen, maybe. But just now I am grieving.