It was a pleasure to burn. - Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
'Cause Sadie moved like water poured
The shapes she shaped had angels floored
She knew her walk turned wind to fire
A wink from Sadie turned brains to mire" -Tim Seibles, The Ballad of Sadie LaBabe
Sunday, May 07, 2006
a love story, part five
My brother lives just as far from our hometown as I do, but he visited regularly. He was still very much a part of life in this town. I, on the other hand, had only been whispered and rumored about through the years. Despite my brother's encouragement, I still felt like the town itself was throwing me out.
Our arrival at the church was quite similar to how I had pictured it. More of the conversations I experienced earlier in the day. My brother was easing through the tension with charm and grace. I wondered how many people will show. Surely, most of the town will, although they had no real relationships with either of my parents.
Then I began to think of my funeral. Who would be there? Just as I saw the chief of police approach, I mentally concluded my funeral would be a small one.
He wanted to update me about the status of the case. He was trying to appear sympathetic, but I could see his excitement about having a big case on his watch. This was not kids trespassing and occasional acts of vandalism. This is two murders.
I realized at that point I had not yet come to terms with the gravity of the situation. Prior to this, I was angry at my mother, but only for killing herself, not for killing my father. I began to think I needed to feel some real loss. I was tangled in what the appropriate feelings to your mother's killing your father when I was bumped by someone to my left.
It was the man in the photo with my dad. He told me a story I was not prepared to hear. Or believe. I said nothing.
The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss. This is one of my absolute favorite stories. Focusing on prejudice, it demonstrates the silliness of segregating people based on categories (race, religion, gender, etc). The story's strength is that it shows just how arbitrary these categories are.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. In this classic story, a new mother suffering from what we might today call 'post-partum depression,' sinks into a still-deeper depression invisible to her husband, who believes he knows what is best for her. Alone in the yellow-wallpapered nursery of a rented house, she descends into madness.
"Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?" He asked.
"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
(both quotes from Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," available in full-text here.)