“You don’t heal well.”
This is what the nurse tells me as she squeezes my surgical incision. As I wince at the pain I know I’m going to take that comment to heart. That its going to mean far more to me than she meant it to be. I don’t heal well. I might just be the worst at it. I take all painful events in my life and keep them close. I tattoo them on my skin. Never forget. Never forget. But I just want to forget.
But do I? My dad told me he was going to sort through old photos and throw most of them away.
“Why do we even take pictures then? If you’re going to just throw them away later in life?” I say.
“But we don’t need them all. You just keep a couple and let the rest go.” He says.
Let the rest go? Let it go? No. I need them all. That’s what they are for right? To remember? To obsess over and pick apart right? There’s not one single film developed photo that we have, that I’m in, that I even remember being there for. Its almost scary. Actually there’s one. Its of me when I was about 5, in my room in my school uniform. I have a dazed look on my face like why are we even taking this picture. I feel like I remember it. But I’m scared its a made up memory. Too much time staring at a photograph and trying to place it in my own memory.
I don’t know whats real anymore. I’m starting to realize all the things I thought I knew, all the situations I believed to be one way were really another. I used to say I could remember every single time I was terrible to someone. That I carry them all with me, my own little top 10 list. I recently scratched one off, but I still remember. But I’m scared I don’t remember all of the true times. Maybe I am terrible all of the time. Its the most terrifying feeling not being able to know yourself. Or thinking you were one way and maybe realizing you are another. How do you even begin again? How do you even know where to start because you don’t even realize when you stopped?
I’m staring at a picture of me and my grandfather. With is a loose word. I’m sitting on the floor of my uncle’s house staring in one direction and my grandfather is behind me staring at me. I always said I had the best grandmothers and the worst grandfathers. I had these beautiful woman as grandmothers. The kind that were so hardworking and never took a break. The ones that were so full of love and things to aspire to be. Things I can’t for a moment find in myself. My grandfathers? I just don’t know. My dad used to talk about his dad with bitterness. Letting his mother take care of 10 children pretty much on her own. But as he’s gotten older he’s softened about it. Says he learned a lot of things from him. Its like he’s let it go.
Is that what happens when you get older? You let things go? Are you really ever free from them? Or are you just too tired to care? To let it take a place on your heart because its already so heavy?
My mom never had anything bad to say about her dad. I guess I just never had a relationship with him. We were always arguing. Can you imagine a 5 year old and an old man fighting? I guess we did. I found out later in life we had the same blood type. The universal donor. At first I thought of it in a snarky way. You didn’t like me grandpa but guess what, we technically shared the same blood! So take that! Then I got older and I was like, wow we shared the same blood type. We were actually connected in some weird way.
I see this picture and he’s gazing at me. Maybe he’s not. Maybe I’m making up memories again. But it looks like he is. Maybe he loved me. When you think about the way love plays out in real life there could be so many messed up definitions of it. We’re all just getting it wrong and right at the same time. If I had to think about all the times I was messed up to the people I love I might roll over and be sick. But all I know is in this picture my grandfather is staring at me and it looks like he loves me. And I remember this one time. My grandparents had this fiber optic rose in a glass case. I was amazed by it. It broke and stopped working one day. I wanted to see so badly how it was inside of the glass, so my grandfather tried to break it open for me. I don’t even remember if he ever got it out and how it looked like inside. I just remember him cutting his finger really badly doing it and I felt really bad about it. That might have been love right? From both sides? I still feel bad about it. I just wanted to know what that rose felt like, and he wanted to show it me.