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What's the latest, perhaps most indispensable, addition to Breakup Girl's
utility fanny pack? A small vial of Oil of Clove. This fragrant natural
anaesthetic (available at your local apothecary) has, in the seemingly endless
aftermath of my four-wisdom tooth extraction (hereafer 4WT '98), replaced
codeine as the only thing standing between me and amputation (of my head). Yes
-- due to dental complications far too graphic to describe on a family website
-- your superhero is, nearly two weeks later, still in acute pain.
This time, though, I write about my personal misery not only to score pity
points, not only to explain a somewhat truncated column. I write Because
Breakup Girl Has Learned Something.
When the good Dr. Kringstein first applied the magic clove oil to my gaping
wounds, I was jubilant. Instant, sweet relief without stomach upset or
this-is-my-brain-on-drugs. My personal Hanukah miracle. I returned to the
Studio Apartment of Justice feeling human for the first time after a week of
blurry, groggy, soupy, puffy torment. And, for one startling, illuminating
moment, I also felt: lost. Even a little bereft.
Lost? Bereft? Whuuh? Here's why: as much 4WT '98 has SUCKED, it has also
made things easy. People bring me bisque. Whatever "it" is, if I
don't feel like it, it doesn't get done. Deadlines: extended. Calls: screened.
The brief bouts of blessed numbness are spent lining up water and pills and
gauze, returning calls and opening mail, quick, before it comes back. Relief,
if anything, is preparation for pain. All in all, life flows on underneath, but
I am shuffling in my fuzzy slippers across its thinly frozen surface. Few
decisions, no complications. My entire existence, my entire identity, my entire
schedule, my entire refrigerator ... all are the product and design of a Person
in Pain. That, these days, is who I am. It hurts, but it is simple.
Cut to: Tim from Last Week, our poster guy for
true holiday loneliness. First of all, let me just say how touched I was by the
kind wishes still flooding in for forwarding to him (for highlights, see the
That, gentle readers, is the spirit.
And from my brief e-correspondence with Tim, I know he appreciated it.
But Tim, you also reported to me that you were "still lonely." And
to that I say, with all due respect: Duh.
I am about to use you as an example, Tim, but this is not personal. Au
contraire: it is universal. And it is not a scolding. You were just one of the
ones who was brave enough to write -- so now you've got to be brave enough to
be the problem on the blackboard.
Of course it's not all better, Tim. Warm, supportive e-mail -- perhaps even
some sort of e-correspondence with the kind people who offered -- can't hurt,
and my hope is that it may juice you up a bit to meet folks and make changes
IRL. But Tim. You have to want to. Because let me guess: right now, your life
hurts, but it is simple. You have to be willing to give up, yes, your entire
existence as a Person in Pain. You know lonely, Tim. Without it, you are
lost. You have to think about this: who will I be if I feel better?
This, remember, is for all of us. When I'm not Lonely, who, indeed, will
bring me bisque? What life do I have other than the one My Ex Ruined? What's on
my Dayrunner if I'm not planning for pain?
It's time to quit slipping around, insulated, in circles. What will it take?
Don't tell me: "I answered a personal ad and it didn't work so I am
lonely." Don't just switch painkillers. Don't go through the motions of
improving your lot just to prove yourself right. What will it take, for real?
Therapy? Finally quitting your job? Moving out of West Virginia, closer to your
family? And then what? Whatever it is, yes, losing your footing will be part of
finding yourself. You're human. So pack some oil of clove for the trip. And
I'll see a new y'all in the new year.
But first, a few letters,Yuletide and otherwise:
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