Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday Musings, 14 December 2013

Good morning,

I have survived another Friday the 13th.  I even tempted fate, changing some Saturday morning plans to yesterday, thinking to avoid the vicious weather we expected but, it seems, have not gotten.  I fooled around the office all day, doing small things and not very well; and then mingled with scores of cheerful faces at an annual Christmas party that my husband and I attend.  Home; warmth; one young man back from college and full of stories, the other off at work.  Murmurings of television through the house; on my tablet, messages and letters from friends, then a book I have been slowly reading, a few percentages each night, to help me find a better way to communicate.  Friday, Brookside, quiet comfort.

This morning I awakened to find an article in the Kansas City Star about a pervasive pain syndrome plaguing teenage girls, the symptoms of which sound shockingly like one entire set of problems that I've had my whole life. My earliest memories are of sitting upside down on the couch telling my mother that I have to sit that way, it's the only way that doesn't hurt.  I might have been four.  I read bits of the article to my husband, then let the pages of the paper fall to the table, my mind lost in years past.  But not lost in the pain.  Rather, lost in the lengths to which my mother and sister Adrienne would go to help me deal with that pain.  Their instinctive actions, their stumbling through the dark morass of my childhood without guidance, sounds just like the therapies described in the article.

Maybe I just stopped too soon.  My neurologist at Children's Hospital in St. Louis prescribed Darvon and Valium when I started high school, and I went down the path of painkillers, a crooked road with jagged stones embedded along the smooth pavement, with gnarly roots and crevices too terrible to avoid.  I managed the journey, though not without a few turned ankles and skinned knees. Decades later, I see my self, my younger self, my current self, between the lines of the article and wonder, is there still hope?

I glance through the e-mails waiting in this morning's inbox.  On my lawyer's listserve, which I have rejoined, a debate has arisen about political discussion, the very bogeyman which drove me off the list earlier this year.  One poster pleads for civility in discourse, for abandonment of hostilities, for pursuit of pleasantries.  She's bothered by the press of time. She cites the pain of loss, the pressures of the passing days, as inspiration for a call to camaraderie. A rapid rejoinder signals a decline to heed her request, and the debates roll on. I feel what she feels: The painful sight of the empty chair, the abandoned instrument with silent strings, the book with its page marker that never again will advance. The fullness of time. The squandering of our most precious commodity.

My memories flail around me. They vie to leap to the page, clamoring to be the tale told to illustrate my idle musing. They overwhelm me. A life well-lived has a plethora of stories. Some amuse. Some instruct. Some reveal. I know what I want to say but I cannot join its telling to one triggering event today. I count on every leaf to make the tree.

Like the children in today's story, I find myself plagued by the merest touch. Fingertips on my skin send shocks through my body. A caress meant to soothe raises fire upon my flesh. So, too, do the soothing words, the conciliatory cluckings, threaten my composure. Like the reader who sees the call to civility as a threat to freedom: I wrap my independence around me and close my heart.

But in this moment, I raise my hand, with its tight, contracting fingers, and stretch the tips toward the keyboard. I flex the taught tendons and stare at the result: My reaching hand. What lies beyond its short traverse, I cannot say. Fire, perhaps. A shocking slap. Like my conciliatory colleague, who calls for peace because she's seen the passing days slashed from a calendar by the fury of rage and the silence of an unforgiving heart, I choose to raise my hand, risking rejection, but knowing that the risking is its own reward.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.