Luxuries in Disguise

>> Wednesday, August 1, 2007


To all the whores (with high-speed Internet)... I apologize.

Here’s how my brain works: I write an essay about nostalgia and garage sales and I make an off-hand reference to feeling “like a dirty, desperate whore...” for selling my personal belongings and my daughter’s clothes so cheaply.

Then, for the next two days, I worry about offending said whores (or prostitutes, or anyone who feels like they’re selling themselves cheaply for money). I feel like a dope for comparing my life to theirs -- even if I was just exaggerating.

These thoughts occurred to me, probably because I watched Monster a few weeks ago. (Well, only part of it. That movie’s pretty hard core and depressed me greatly.) I imagine this deceased serial-killer and ex-prostitute reading my blog and thinking, What an F-ing lightweight. She has no idea...

And, of course, she’d be right.

I’m very fortunate to have my life and my experiences. I think about how difficult it must be for women all over the world who struggle so hard for so little and who have survived horrible abuses. I think about how, by sheer dumb luck, I was fortunate enough to be born in this country, with this mother, with this body, and with these experiences.

So, with the help of an off-hand comment, plenty of guilt, and a terribly painful movie, reality has kicked me square in the gut. Ultimately, it is a luxury to mourn my daughter’s clothes. It is a luxury that I even have daughters. It is a luxury that I am able to clothe them... feed them... bathe them in clean water.

I wonder, how often do my fears and worries reflect a deeper luxury? My tears reflect my appreciation, but too often I become entangled in the loss and forget the joy behind it. The deeper I look, the more I see that many of my problems are actually luxuries in disguise.

Like the luxury of childhood fears.

I was afraid of the dark as a little girl. Upon entering a dark room, I would reach tentatively around the corner, feeling for the light switch. At night, I ran down the hall from my room to the bathroom, afraid that something might jump out at me. (I’m sure it has nothing to do with my mom actually jumping out at me, sometimes.... no.)

What a luxury it is to be afraid of monsters in the dark (and mothers who jump out at us). Why? Because hairy, green childhood monsters don’t exist -- but real, human monsters do. It’s hard to be afraid of hairy monsters after watching the evening news and seeing all the real ones. Now I’m not afraid of the dark (well, not much) because I know more about reality and real loss.

And another luxury...

A few weeks ago, I was feeling sorry for myself because people didn't seem interested in my blog. (Talk about not having any real problems...) Then it occurred to me: It’s a luxury that I have a blog at all. Hell, it’s a luxury that I have a computer with high-speed Internet access on which to write and publish my blog. Hell, it’s a luxury that anyone reads my blog at all. Hell, it’s a luxury that I can read.

And then, as I look deeper still, I see that if I couldn’t read, it’s a luxury that I can talk. And if I couldn’t talk, it’s a luxury that I can think. And if I couldn't think, well, it's a luxury that I’m alive. Which is the premise of a great Cat Stevens song, Moonshadow. As the song progresses, he loses parts of himself, one by one, until all he has left is life itself -- the ultimate luxury.

And now I just feel really stupid...

Stupid for worrying about “hits” and “green monsters” and a garbage bag full of old clothes. For those of you out there with real problems, please forgive my petty struggles, my drama, my self-absorption. Please forgive my forgetful brain and my misplaced priorities. Please forgive my disguised luxuries.

It could be that the only real problems are the ones that make us regret life itself. But when I write that, I feel like I’m missing something... something important and just beyond my grasp...

What a luxury it is to have... doubts.

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Moonshadow
By Cat Stevens

Yes, I'm bein' followed by a moon shadow, moon shadow, moon shadow.

Leapin' and hoppin' on a moon shadow, moon shadow, moon shadow.

And if I ever lose my hands, lose my power, lose my land
Oh if I ever lose my hands
Oh I won't have to work no more.

And if I ever lose my eyes, if my colours all run dry
Yes, if I ever lose my eyes
Oh I won't have to cry no more.

Yes, I'm bein' followed by a moon shadow, moon shadow, moon shadow.

Leapin' and hoppin' on a moon shadow, moon shadow, moon shadow.

And if I ever lose my legs, I won't moan and I won't beg
Oh if I ever lose my legs
Oh I won't have to walk no more.

And if I ever lose my mouth, all my teeth North and South
Yes, if I ever lose my mouth
Oh I won't have to talk.

Did it take long to find me? I asked the faithful light.
Did it take long to find me and are you gonna stay the night?

I'm bein' followed by a moon shadow, moon shadow, moon shadow.

Leapin' and hoppin' on a moon shadow, moon shadow, moon shadow.

Moon shadow...


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I read a blog entry from Journey Mama the other day. She is more of a poet than I am and wrote quite beautifully about the luxuries of motherhood.




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