been thinking...

When I learned that my grandfather died, I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t happy either. He was no one to me and yet he was always there, the force of him and what he’d made me do moving through me like a dark river.

“Do you remember how we used to have to jack him off?” I asked my sister one day shortly after he died. We’d never spoken of it. I’d never said a word about it to anyone. I was ready for my sister to say no, for everything I remembered about my grandfather and his cock to be an ugly invention of my nasty little mind.

But she said, “Yeah.” She said, “Wow.” She said, “What the fuck was up with that?”

There was nothing the fuck up with that and there never will be. I will die with there never being anything the fuck up with my grandfather making my hands do the things he made my hands do with his cock. But it took me years to figure that out. To hold the truth within me that some things are so sad and wrong and unanswerable that the question must simply stand alone like a spear in the mud.

So I railed against it, in search of the answer to what the fuck was up with my grandfather doing that to my sister and me. What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck?

But I could never shake it. That particular fuck would not be shook. Asking what the fuck only brought it around. Around and around it went, my grandfather’s cock in my hands, the memory if it so vivid, so palpable, so very much a part of me. It came to me during sex and not during sex. It came to me in flashes and it came to me in dreams. It came to me one day when I found a baby bird, fallen from a tree.

I know you aren’t supposed to pick up baby birds. I know once you touch them their mama won’t come back and get them, but this bird was a goner anyway. Its neck was broken, its head lolling treacherously to the side. I picked it up and cradled it as delicately as I could in my palms. I cooed to soothe it, but each time I cooed, it only struggled piteously to get away, terrified by my voice.

The bird’s suffering would’ve been unbearable at any time, but it was particularly unbearable at that moment in my life because my mother had just died. Her death was ugly. She was only forty-five. And because she was dead I was pretty much dead too. I was dead but alive. And I had a baby bird in my palms that was dead but alive as well.

I knew there was only one humane thing to do, though it took me the better part of an hour to work up the courage to do it: I put the baby bird in a paper bag and smothered it with my hands.

Nothing that has died in my life has ever died easily and this bird was no exception. This bird did not go down without a fight. I could feel it through the paper bag, pulsing against my hand and rearing up, simultaneously flaccid and ferocious beneath its translucent sheen of skin, precisely as my grandfather’s cock had been.

There it was! There it was again. Right there in the paper bag. The ghost of that old man’s cock would always be in my hands. But I understood what I was doing this time. I understood that I had to press against it harder than I could bear. It had to die. Pressing harder was murder. It was mercy.

That’s what the fuck it was. The fuck was mine.

And the fuck is yours too, WTF. That question does not apply “to everything every day.” If it does, you’re wasting your life. If it does, you’re a lazy coward and you are not a lazy coward.

From an arresting, dismantling, gracious, hope-aboundingly reverent Dear Sugar column. The sort that hurts to read and leaves you better for having done so.

The other day I wrote back to a friend just to tell her that she is the strongest person I know. The most palpable definition of grace. The most vivid living example I can refer to on keeping on and embracing the wreckage and the battle for what renewal will come of it. The fact that she reminds me of the fortitude and beauty of Sugar is really saying something.  

It’s hard to explain how pure and sustaining and achingly good these columns are. How I can read them in a coffee shop, frantic as an anthill, and ignore the Spanish guitar bleating and leaping in the background and still feel my heart burying deeper into my chest cavity and still wipe away tears and tears and tears. How bright she shines in an internet universe whose too-usual collective mantra is “Whatever.”

If I had to choose between the ability to write like Sugar or think like Sugar, I would pick think. But what a terrible choice that would be to make. This must be the smartest, most earnest and well written column on the internet. Every time I find it, I am thankful again that she exists and deigns to continue writing.

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  5. petitchou said: What’s also interesting and amazing is she does this for free…The Rumpus doesn’t pay its writers.
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