46. Portraits

A long time ago, I started taking photographs.

I started taking photographs of the gowns I wore –  the pills I took.

I started taking photographs of pain.

At first I thought it was a weird, pop culture, selfie compulsion… but I wasn’t sharing these photos.  They never touched a twitter or a tumblr.  They never left my phone.

For months this went on, needle after needle, table after table, crumpled white medical paper and a camera phone.

When he left, I cried and told my mother I finally figured out why I was taking these pictures.  I don’t look sick.  I look like a normal girl.  And in trying to be happy, in trying to be normal, I look from the outside like nothing is wrong, or if there is something wrong, it can’t possibly be too bad.

Somewhere deep inside, afraid that no one believes me, I have been documenting my descent… can anybody hear me?

Last week a friend told me he had been suffering from Crohn’s disease for over a year.  It took them that long to diagnose it, and silently, secretly he suffered.  I wanted to tell him that I understood, that I truly understood, but how can you?  Then I realized that in the midst of my completely inward terror, I had, somehow, created a tiny bit of good to give.

 

Better than a billion of my stupid, useless words – portraits.

 

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32. Doorway

He isn’t the type to show up in your doorway, and that’s a good thing.

When I watch the wrong movie and the man tells the woman he respects the work she does and wants her to be successful because she’s earned it, above and outside of their romance, I cry; he doesn’t come.

When the janitor at work gets me flowers on my birthday that should have come from him, because she still loves me, but he doesn’t anymore, he doesn’t come.

When the rain hits the California ground for the first and only time all winter.  Not even enough to banish the edges of the drought, but enough to finally wash away the heart he drew with his fingertip on my driver side window, he doesn’t come.

He isn’t the type to show up in your doorway.

His pride is more important.  He will tell himself, and he’ll tell me, that it is maturity.  He will save me, really, from the back and forth, the wavering, the heart sucking, gut-wrenching act of pulling myself out of his arms sobbing, knowing somewhere deep down that in the end, all he’ll do is throw back a few too many and shatter me into a thousand pieces just like every time before.  His pride is saving me from suffering of a greater kind.  I know that.

And he doesn’t come.  And he doesn’t come.

And at two am I am up in the living room.

And he doesn’t come.