Saturday, May 14, 2016

Write Club - Skin v. Bone (BONE)


I don’t really have much else on that, I just really like the word and it’s my topic with an R. Good night.

Ahhhfuckno. Belknap isn’t winning by boner default. Not this time, pal.

Look, I’ve done my research. There’s that song about bones on Schoolhouse Rock that I’ve heard at least 15 times in the last two days because I have a toddler sooo...I pretty much have this in the bag. (ahem) I know that, without bones, you’re just a blob. Protecting organs...their main job. And other handy facts that rhyme.

The fact is, what we’re talking about is structure. I’m a 40 year old with undiagnosed ADD. Structure isn’t my strong suit. I have one, I suppose, we all do, but it’s a mess. Oh you're an artist so it's looser, no. It's a mess.

I have two sisters and none of us ever broke any bones growing up. This was a point of pride for my mom, Like she smoked steel into us in utero, instead of Winston’s tar... like hickory smoked into bacon but way...way more disgusting. She bragged, I ate Tums every day," she said, "Like they were candy. We didn’t know they had calcium!"

While we were in the nest, that protection seemed legit. She made us, we weren’t breaking anything. Once we were out, it was up for grabs.

In college, I gave myself a hairline fracture to my own nose while choreographing a modern dance final, and that gave me a really good idea of just how much I was gonna get in my own way forever.

My oldest sister had the bones in her face broken by a concrete bench. There was no protecting her on that one, especially since she met the concrete bench courtesy of a cop. You probably saw it online. The whole world did. I’ve somehow managed to only watch it twice. That was enough.

Years after my mom died, I saw the resemblance more than ever between her and my oldest sister. The high cheekbones especially. The plastic surgery to fix her orbital bones that would prevent her eyeball from falling didn’t quite restore the one cheekbone perfectly, but it’s close.

The pictures I took of her after she was released, with blood on her shirt, shaking uncontrollably, come up every time we write each other because technology likes to link pictures and words even when you don’t want to. The picture’s connected to the memory.

In the protection of our calcium-laden home, we drank whole milk from the carton to wash down the Apple Jacks and Lucky Charms and twinkies that were taking the place of emotional support. That’s the best kind of food. The one that replaces affection. It’s fucking delicious.

I had some questions, though, about this “no bones broken” thing. Much like there were questions about that whole “you weren’t born Jewish” and “you weren’t actually a ballerina” and “why is there a different last name on my birth certificate” thing. So many questions. But back to the bones. I had one to pick.

I had a twisted leg at birth. Yes twisted. Not a medical term, I’m sure, but it’s the only adjective I got. There was a cast involved which says "break" to me, but these facts were usually discarded in favor of the better joke. "You were really hairy, so we called you monkey baby."

Instead of structure in our house, we got speed. As a family, our brains are fast but border on unstable, because our mutterings and need to arrive at the perfect punchline make us skip over the tenets of normal discourse so we wind up being our own best audience - kinda like the guy screaming "Happy Friday" in his own piss. Eventually, that’s where we’re going. When your family invents their past and denies the present, but can also make the best joke about it, you’re probably gonna be screaming something in the street covered in something at some point in your life.

Let’s just say I can feel it in my bones.

But I'm terrible with looking ahead. I love lists, but will not have a five year plan, It seems pompous and illogical to me. Who the fuck am I to lay out a plan? It's not that I believe in God's will, it's just that by 12 I learned to not ask and just go. My dad went to a Ramada Inn and ended his life. Next thing I know, I'm staying at friend's houses, grounded for a summer for shoplifting some pants from a Bergner's, and I live in a new town and mom had a boyfriend named Mel. Just...just fucking go with it.

So I did. I rolled with punches and made lists and never really looked at where I was going. I never planned on being married with kids because I never planned any kind of life for  myself beyond that list. I got lucky. My husband and kid are spectacular. People let me come and perform and write stuff and say it out loud when I secretly don't believe I'm worthy of it. I rolled with it and hopes for the best. But now I can't roll. I can barely fucking turn. Age has pulled a folgers trick on me, replacing my bones with nonsense to see if I noticed. I have wads of arthritis where my bones should be. I don't have joints. I have fucking traitors.

Not to brag, but I have advanced arthritis. I've always been a quick study. "You're too young for this," my doctor says.

My dentist even casually told me that the noise in my jaw was arthritis. In my jaw.

Your teeth are also considered bones. I willingly filed my front six down to niblets and covered them with crowns because they were cheaper and faster than braces. My mom had a plate for hers. That’s because a man kicked them in when she was 16. She had a child with him. Later, she gave each daughter a different explanation as to why she had a plate and always joked that she wanted a son. She had one with the man who abused her so much that she ran away, leaving the child with his family. She thought it was the only way for either of them to survive. I never met him, and my mother wouldn’t discuss it. Even when she knew my sister finally told me everything. She didn’t even recognize the skeletons in her closet as anything but clothes by this point.

We keep other people’s secrets until we no longer feel it’s our right.

My sister, long before she met the police and the bench, set the family skeletons loose because she needed room for winter coats. Or maybe her own secrets.

I’m hopeful that, while we watch Schoolhouse Rock for the eleventeenth time (I Got Six is a jam and if you didn’t know, now you know), I only have dresses and shoes to pass on to my daughter. I also hope I can keep up with her and that she grows up so strong. Because kneeling down toward her is some bullshit.

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