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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Always a Little

There's a film I love very much called "The Impostors," starring Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt. It's a delightful, loud, boisterous, silly farce, a tongue-in-cheek nod to the films of yesteryear, where big hats and bigger reactions ruled the screen. Of course, even in a film that is so desperately funny, I tend to look for the quieter, softer, more sullen moments.

I'm just that way, I guess.

There's a scene towards the end of the film where the first mate of a ship approaches the Captain, played by the wonderful Allan Corduner. The scene is a lavish party on the boat, given in the captain's honor, with lively swing music playing in the background and all the elite ship's guests dressed to the nines. The first mate observes the captain for a moment and he says,

"Sir, you look sad."

The captain looks listlessly off into the distance and, almost casually remarks,

"I am always a little sad."

That bit of dialogue, lasting for maybe four or five seconds, is my favorite part of the film, and I suppose it is that way because we love what we feel instinctively is truth, and, for me, that's what that is. There's just those tiny, fleeting, almost absurd moments where you identify. Where you acknowledge. Where you catch yourself almost whispering out hoarsely,

"Me, too."

Back in college, when I was seeing a therapist once a week, I delicately broached the topic of anti-depressant medication with my therapist.

"Well," I said, "it's been a year-and-a-half, and I guess you know me well enough by now. What do you think?"

Rick sat across from me, curly carrot-topped, snowflake sweater, ruddy cheeks, content in his gayness and his charming, gap-toothed grin. His eyes crinkled as he crossed his corduroyed legs and said,

"What do you think?"

"Jesus, Rick," I said, "do you have to be such a fucking therapist all the time?"

He laughed. Which, of course, is just what I wanted. My own private audience for my weekly one-man show. And you couldn't ask for a better audience of one than Rick. He was, quite simply, to die for. And he thought the same of me. It was almost unhealthy.

I told him that I felt I ought to be farther along than I was, that I thought I had all the insight I was going to have and my mood wasn't changing, my writing was still intractably dark, and I was still bitter and angry and sullen about the same things I was bitter and angry and sullen about years before.

"I don't know," he said, "part of me thinks you're exactly who you should be right now. But you're never going to stop wondering, I suppose, so I'll give you a referral to a psychiatrist. Mostly to shut you up."

The next week, I found myself in a strange-looking, uncomfortably dark office on the other side of town, and in wheeled a quadriplegic psychiatrist in a motorized wheelchair, mouth-operated through a blow-tube. I talked to this guy for an hour. "Don't stare at his legs, don't stare at his legs, don't stare at his legs" I repeated to myself in my head, over and over. He diagnosed me with chronic, low-level anxiety and depression and told me about medication he would prescribe to me, if I wanted it.

Turns out, I didn't want it.

And so maybe that's why I'm always a little sad. Maybe things would have been different if I had called up Dr. Hot-Wheels and said, "Hey, let's get those prescriptions filled." But I kind of doubt it. After all, they're pills, not pixie-dust.

I don't know why my brain is wired, or cross-wired maybe, the way it is, why it ventures into dark places sometimes, why it can't shut off at night sometimes, why it broods and obsesses and why it finds the sick and depraved funny, and why my lip trembles when I'm driving in my car sometimes.

Of course, the miscarriage didn't help.

It's been over a year, and the searing, shattering pain has worn off, but the cold, flat ache remains. The uncertainty about whether we will get pregnant again persists, and I hear it in every silence that passes between us, in every off-hand remark, in every sigh and in every cough. I hear it and my ears bleed.

But at least now I know why I am always a little sad.

1 comment:

  1. It'll happen. I know everyone has their own little anecdotes about it, but it will. Personally, I had four miscarriages before finally having the first of my two [totally normal, healthy] kids. Not that ya'll have a bunch - I was initially told I would never get pregnant, which they then amended to I could get pregnant but would never carry to term. Just... it'll happen. Probably not the exact thing you want to hear, but I'll be praying for ya'll. Thank me when you're getting woken up at 3 am.


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