Halloween was a low-key affair this year. Last week, we again attended the annual pumpkin carving party one of D's friends likes to host, but we didn't go in with a plan as we did the first time. Just a gourd of a ghoulish hue and a vague idea of what we might put on it. Here's the end result:
A pair of eyes apiece -- the ones on the right are mine (adapted from a template) and the others belong to D (carved freehand).
I'm amused that the creepy gaze I thought I was creating ended up looking more concerned than anything else. I guess having another face emerging from the side of one's head would be a good reason ...
Halloween night in question was busy, and not just because we got about 200 trick-or-treaters (fairly standard in our neighborhood). We had a last-minute guest, one of our friends from Portland, who was supposed to be on vacation in Venice but had had his passport turned down the day before at the Portland airport. Too beaten up, the gate agents told him. His only option, if he still wanted to make the trip, was to get a new document issued from the nearest emergency processing center -- which was in Seattle.
"I'm going to be fairly rotten company," he warned me ahead of time. Which was completely understandable. But I paused before telling him that I might not be much fun either. Even though we've known each other for more than a decade, I still hesitated to say anything about what's been going on in the last few weeks. On the outside, there are no obvious signs that mark me -- perhaps I look more tired than usual and my clothes are a little looser, but no scars, no broken bones. Still, I've had my resources tapped repeatedly, dealing with unpredictable pain, diverting whatever energy I have into finding a doctor who will listen, waiting for a diagnostic plan to take shape.
As I hinted here, these aren't things I like to tell people in real life, not even my family, because pain, both physical and emotional, is so intimate. To admit to someone that you hurt is to take a risk -- that the other person will respond insensitively, that he or she will downplay your experience, that you will feel worse for having said something in the first place. So I've learned not to talk about pain out loud if I can get away with it; I do it in this space instead.
But with someone I've known so long, it also feels dishonest to pretend all is well. And I'd been run down enough in the last few weeks that the act of pretending was going to be too much in person, especially because the physical pain is so unpredictable; it can flare up at any time. So I told my friend in brief that I wasn't in the best shape. The result was an awkward few seconds on the phone -- he acknowledged what I'd said but didn't seem to know what else to offer. Then someone came to his door and he said he had to go.
So I'm still turning one face to the outside world and letting the other exist here. I wish there were a way to integrate them more. But for now, this is the best I can do.
Unmailed Letter to an Old Friend
19 hours ago