Mirrors

originally posted on September 4, 2011

So many random thoughts going through my head this morning. About Don, about life, about us. I am having so much trouble adjusting, accepting, living with this new reality. I still don’t want it to be true. I don’t want to have this new life without my husband. I hate this new life that I have to grow into slowly, and take time with. I am getting so tired of all the advice. On one hand, people are constantly telling me how this is going to take a long time; how it might be years and years until I am ever happy again; and even then; I will never ever be the same. On the other hand; some people act as if I should certainly be moving forward by now. Hell, its been almost two months! I appreciate people and hate people all at the same time right now. I need people, but I need to be alone. When I’m alone, I cry like hell and often feel like there is no hope; like it will never ever be better.

After awhile, I am dying to get outside of these ugly walls that I call my home. When I’m out, I feel suffocated by people and the joy on their faces, and I cant WAIT to get back home. I feel so out of place anywhere and everywhere. Everything I see, hear, smell, or experience bothers or upsets me in some way. Everything somehow relates to Don. Last night I was in the city getting my hair straightened. Its that Japanese hair-straightening procedure that takes like 5 hours to get done; and I normally do it a couple times per year. A few days before Don died, my hair had gotten nasty and ugly-curly from the humidity of summer. All of it’s straightness had well worn off since my last straightening treatment back in December. We were standing in our bedroom, sort of hugging, and I told Don I was going to make an appointment with Izumi soon to do my hair again. He got excited. “I love your hair straight. It looks so pretty like that,” he said. “Thanks Boo. I’ll do it soon.” So last night, due to some weird combination of doing it because I told Don I would; and because it really needs to be done, I got on the bus and went into the city.

My hairdresser is this really sweet Japanese girl in her twenties I think; who runs and operates a salon from inside an apartment building. She rents out a very small studio apartment and uses it as a hair salon. She has no help. It’s just her. The place is super tiny and feels claustrophobic, she plays the weirdest, creepiest music you have ever heard in your life as “background” noise, (literally – I have no idea what this music is, but there are often sounds of animal noises, clanking and banging, and people screaming as if they are being viciously murdered) and its completely out of the way. It’s way downtown on the corner of Avenue A; which; for me; is a pretty long hike from Jersey. But here’s the thing; the place is always packed with customers, friends stopping by who decide to get their haircut on a whim, and an energy that comes from Izumi herself. Whenever I go there, which is only a couple times a year for this treatment, it is always a challenge to get an appointment. She is very busy. It kind of amazes me what she has done with this teeny little space; all by herself. There is no one there washing people’s hair, or sweeping the floors; or taking phone calls or greeting people at the door. She does all of it; and she is very good at it too. The motivation it must take just to come here from another country, start up a business like that by yourself, and keep it successful; simply astounds me. Actually, the thought of it is exhausting.

I admire her tenacity as I get buzzed in to the apartment/salon and she is working on another customer. She says hello and tells me to sit in the other empty chair by the window. Before making my appointment, I had emailed her to let her know about what happened, because I cant stand walking into new places or situations with people that I forgot to inform that my husband died. I am so tired of telling the story of how it happened to different, random people; over and over again. I hate reliving that awful morning; and I hate having to answer a bunch of questions that I cannot answer; because I still don’t know the answers and I might not ever know the answers. Questions like: “Did he have heart problems in his family? Was there a history of heart attacks? He was an EMT right? But this happened at his other job right? Not on the ambulance? Were you alone at the hospital when they told you? Did he ever go to the doctor? Were there any signs that he wasn’t feeling well? Was there an autopsy done? What were the results?” On and on and on, every single day, from unexpected people and places, and people that I keep forgetting or neglecting to inform about his death. Izumi gives me a look that says “I am so sorry”, and I sit my fat self down on the chair that is made for normal-sized people. I absolutely hate going to the hair salon. I hate it because you are seated in a cramped, tight seat that your ass sticks out of on both sides because you are so damn fat; and you are placed in that seat with a gigantic full-length mirror directly in front of you; taunting you with how disgusting and huge you have become; and how much more weight you continue to gain; it seems.

On an average, ordinary day; I hate this hair-straightening procedure because you literally have to sit there in this chair for almost five hours. There is absolutely nothing to do except read yet another magazine. Let me tell you right now; there is only so much of US, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, and People that one person can take. I reach into my shoulder bag of magazines that I brought with me in preparation, and begin reading an article in Redbook about a 9/11 widow with 2 daughters. Her husband worked in the World Trade Center and never came home that day. For some reason, the magazine opens to this article and I just start reading it. Even though Don and I never got to do more than talk about possibly having kids, or adopting together one day in the near future; and even though the way Don died is completely different than the way her husband died, for some reason, her words resonate with me and I immediately relate.

There is one part of the article where she talks about mourning all of the things that her husband would be missing; important days in their children’s lives; milestones; her getting a job as a Science Professor; something she had always wanted to do. I cant stop thinking about how she woke up that morning and her husband went to work; and then he never came home. Just like mine. Different circumstance; same horrific empty shock. All of a sudden tears are coming down my face; and I excuse myself to go into the creepy, tiny bathroom. This bathroom is the size of an airplane restroom; and as I pee and then reach over to try and wipe myself; I suddenly realize I am so large that it’s actually exhausting to navigate wiping in a space this small. I start crying harder and stay in there for a few minutes; hating my new life and how I am coping with it. I think about all the people who have told me how “strong” and how “courageous” I am; and I think about what a lie that is. Its a fucking lie. What does it even mean really? Why am I strong? Because I haven’t killed myself yet? I am not sure what it means, and I certainly do not feel strong. Yeah. I’m so damn strong, I cant even wipe my own ass. I start thinking about how so many other people deal with sudden loss and death; how they drink or do drugs to mask their pain; or fall into a depression that maybe they never come out of. I think about the bag of Cape Cod chips I ate in one sitting the week after he died; and the box of Triscuits with Alouette garlic cheese I devoured a few days ago. The tater tots sitting in my freezer that I can’t wait to heat up. The Edy’s chocolate chip ice cream that is made even better and crunchier with loads of chocolate sprinkles and crunchy sugar cone goodness. I wipe my tears and look at my fat chins in the bathroom mirror. Suddenly, I am wishing like hell that I was an alcoholic.

The next four hours in that chair feel like a decade. I am starting to get that dizzy, hot, claustrophobic feeling again, like I want or NEED to run away. I have this feeling often now; as part of my new life. It usually happens after a few hours of being out in public, getting overwhelmed by people. If they are asking me questions about Don’s death, I get overwhelmed and want to run. If they are strangers that don’t know me and are just living their lives and sharing happy moments; I get overwhelmed by their happiness and my sadness and want to run. The problem is that there is nowhere to run to; because no matter where I go; whether I’m home alone; with friends; at dinner; at work; onstage; or getting my hair straightened – he will always be dead. There is nowhere to go ever again for any feeling of comfort. This is what I have found out; and so wherever I happen to be; I feel like an alien who no one understands. I feel like I am crawling out of my skin, and want to run from myself and from life. The only thing I want to do is see, hug, kiss, talk to my husband; and I simply cannot do that. Everything else feels forced and fake to me. I am everywhere and I am nowhere. Suddenly I hear Izumi talking to me. She is telling me about her father; who died suddenly last May after he fell of a roof. I am half-listening to her gentle, soothing voice and half not. I feel as if I have been drugged; that “heady” feeling you get when you are on allergy or cold medication. That is how I feel everyday since July 13th. Drugged.

Finally it is over. I get into a cab back to 42nd street; and the ride seems to take forever. It is now almost 11:30pm and we are sitting in bad traffic in Times Square. The cab is stopped right in front of BBKings, and I start to remember all the times Don and I went there to have a drink or dinner and listen to a great Jazz or blues band. I remember how much he loved the Sunday Beatles Brunch we went to that time; how he talked about the guitar player and how talented he was for days afterwards. There are hundreds of people on the streets of NYC; loud and happy and filled with life and hope. There is a young looking couple that is smiling at each other and hugging tightly.

The cab doesn’t move. Their hugs and their love are taunting me as I think about the many, many times Don and I hung out in NYC; and how much he loved it there. I think about how he will never see it ever again; and how I will never go for a night out with him ever again. I think about how young we were when we first started talking and falling in love; and how we had that same smile for each other. They are definitely a new couple; you can tell by the gleam in their eyes and by the feeling of hope as they practically skip down the street together. I instantly hate them just because they get to exist together. I hate their laughter and their joy. The tears are coming hard now; and as I pay the fare and run out of the cab; I realize I haven’t eaten anything all day. You would think that a fat person like myself would never forget to eat; but that’s not true. There are days when I eat absolutely nothing until after 5pm. I have terrible eating habits. I rarely eat breakfast, and then I am starving in the late afternoon, and I make every wrong choice and I don’t care. There are many days since his death where I simply don’t remember or don’t care enough to get something to eat. Until I realize I’m starving. Right this minute, my comfort comes in the form of a Burger King sandwich and french fries, and I stuff it into my bag as I get on the bus to go home. Please just get me the fuck home.

By the time I finally eat my dinner, it is after midnight and the next day. My time-clock, my emotions, and my life are all so fucked up right now; and I don’t even care anymore. I am just glad to be home; where I don’t have to sit in a hard chair and stare at my own failed-self in the mirror. There are no mirrors in my home, and there is no one here to tell me that my hair looks really nice or to give a shit that I got home safely. There are only french fries.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

Leave a Reply