There's a feeling I get when I don't have a feeling and it's not quite like a 0 or the shape of sky through a portal of rock but it's close, because it is representative more than actual, a meta experience of emotion: Thinking about emotion. Tracing lack of emotion.
I hugged myself when I got out of the bathroom the other day because I was crying and there is nobody in adult life who is around to take care of you on a regular basis in this way because that's what it means really to be adult IF you've been lucky to have what we define as a childhood, where people were taking care of you wherever you were vulnerable, wherever it hurt, there was a bandaide or a kiss of a place in bed for you; when you grow up, one day it hits you- maybe in the car, driving and listening to music and your eyes fill with tears and you realize in a broad and encompassing way that no matter how close you are to your family your children your friends that grown ups aren't children and aren't taken care of. Cared for, hopefully. And then follows, maybe, the realization that this is a gift, because those adults who do need to be taken care of are often suffering, from mental illness, addiction, brain injury. And then follows, maybe, the realization that if you want to be OK, you can't ever let yourself get to the point where you need taking care of, unless in small increments, where you can be fit in; where you want to be lazy and allow the dark black blue to overtake you and the easier sullen broken inside of you demands equal footing, you can no longer allow this. Self-care becomes mandatory, unlike the black sheep cousin, self pity. You store a thousand black humored jokes in your hands like card tricks, songs and books and long still looks at the night sky- you are aware of the pointlessness of rage and the inevitability of rage, and allow for both. And then follows, maybe, the realization that you can live in that neediness as an adult, without these other parameters, and it's called co-depedance, and you've been there and done that and it is living on the edge of suffering and blame, falling over the edge, tap-dancing back to the edge, always one step away from heartbreak because no one is ever going to make it all OK all the time. And then follows, maybe, the realization that you've been incredibly lucky to have had a balanced love, a love that was not dominating though it was infused, a love that was not childlike nor codependent but adult in the best way of that word, and of course you would mourn that. Of course you would. And you hug yourself for one moment, observing your face in the mirror, freckled and tired with circles under the blue eyes, still pretty but worn, still with a crooked mouth and teeth with calcium deposits, and the breasts that hang beneath, still gorgeous after years of nursing, bouncy and upright like curious cats, unclear what to do with themselves, still so full of vitality and sin, yet tucked day after day into proper bras and released to clean white sheets and sleep every night. Nipples slightly larger and darker from baby mouth after mouth nursing night after night. The stomach miraculously free of stretch marks but skin that rounds gently, three surgeries, four babies- one of those babies lost at 13 weeks, emerging silent and blue in the emergency room of your town with your husband's hand in yours, and a strange and comfortingly solemn doctor whisking baby away. A bellybutton pocked with scars. Public hair that floats in the tub exactly as it did when you were fourteen, a tiny trill like a musical note. Moles, scattered and some scraped to view the cells. Hands that were never lovely, hands like your fathers, peasant hands, now with lines at the wrists from carrying babies and toddlers your entire adult life. Legs strong from running. Twenty pounds heavier than you were in your twenties, more muscle and more fat. You used to be a skinny, bony girl, with a ribcage so small your husband used to circle it, over and over, like a wedding ring. Still you after all these years, but lucky enough to have been worn down by the hands of the people you love, like a stone, rough, unlovely, but struck with the abundance of experience, the ancient Chinese curse of an interesting life.