Perhaps my constant simultaneous apprehension and negligence can be attributed to a violation. Or violations. I wonder if there’s a place they’re piling up, like parking tickets on a dusty dashboard. Like a dusty dashboard left abandoned in an otherwise empty lot on the edge of a dense wood. Like a dense wood that holds a needle in the haystack, abandoned and waiting to be sorrowfully discovered. A body once kissed and touched and held and loved, now swinging like drying meat on display.
I keep desperately trying to pay these violations off in whatever ways I can. Three glasses of Hendricks and a desperately generous tip. A desperately warm smile at a stringy girl waiting in my therapist’s office. A collected face and back turned to a funeral, desperate handkerchiefs stashed up my sleeves. The desperate clown, desperate to spread joy. Desperate to live out her inabilities in the laughter of strangers.
I always had a bit of a jealousy complex with my brother and his friends. I thought he was cool- he still is cool. And I would fall asleep to the sound of his friends and him laughing. So much laughter, and so much “-Tyler said-” “what the heck, Tyler!” “-right, Tyler?” My brother surrounded- surrounds himself with beautiful people. People who love him and who he loves in return. But I wanted to be funny like my brother. I wanted to hear his friends laughing at things I said or did.
There was a game we played one time at a dinner with his baseball team. We were all holed up in a local Chinese restaurant and as we waited for our food, his teammates put everything they could get their hands on into a glass of water. Salt, pepper, soy sauce, duck sauce, wasabi, ginger, scraps of paper, sugar, a splash of tea. They stirred it with a spoon and began passing it around the table like a goblet of wine at a holy supper. Initiation. I prepared for the foreign liquid to meet my tongue as Tyler finished his sip. But as I held out my hand to take the glass, my brother slipped it in front of and around me to the next teammate’s hand. I'd forgotten my place. I was the little sister.
I reached out and grabbed the bulbous glass, I can do it, I insisted, pushing my brother’s hands away. The team watched in horror as I pridefully refused to take a little sip of the glass but instead continued to gulp it down before someone stopped me and the boys laughed.
I made my grandmother laugh at her husband’s funeral once. How funny that sounds to add “once” at the end of a sentence like that. It's like saying I caught a fish once. Or I kissed a girl once.
But for a moment at my grandfather’s funeral, I made my grandmother laugh. I don't know how to speak when people are grieving. Sure, most people don't know the “correct” annunciations at funerals, but I've always wanted to be one of those people who just know exactly what to say. And call it a gift, call it a curse, I always happen to say the exact wrong thing. So wrong and so off, in fact, it always results in a confused smile that turns into a bubble of laughter. Buoyant.
I made Yoshiko laugh at her husband’s funeral once. In the kitchen of the funeral home. I can still remember the vibrancy of the strawberries on her plate and the softness of her hands resting on her wheelchair. But not even a month later I found myself alone in that same kitchen. No- not alone. People were there, I'm remembering now. But I was so alone. And quiet. And still. And small. And heavy.
I've noticed recently that I find comfort in death. Not in the most grim or holy of ways, but in that it brings about a sort of end. An end to pain, and tribulation but also an end to a long joke of sorts. The punchline being a sort of stillness. There's all this chaos of love and confusion and smiles and longing that intermingles so loudly that only the soft absence of it helps us understand it better. Understand its significance.
But this isn't something to be expedited. It's not a hot drink handed out at a window, paid for and waiting to be consumed. It's a slow burn, for lack of better words. It's not something that's earned or deserved, not something to work towards or look forward to. It's just there. Just some thoughts from a desperate clown.