Friday, June 22, 2007

alienation


Finally I understand exactly what that word means.

This odd feeling started a couple of days ago.

An expectant mother here at the plant – we’ll call her O – decided that it would be a good idea to visit me at my desk. We started talking kids of course and I gladly showed her a recent picture of Duckie. I got the impression that she would have liked a girl, but she knows she’s having a boy.

“When are you having your next one?” she asked.

“We’re not,” I said, definitively. (A brief daydream about this last week ended abruptly when I remembered how much fun we had with diapers and the accompanying smells, rashes, sleep deprivation due to night-time emissions, et al.)

She looked shocked. “Really?” she asked. “Why not?” As if she was disappointed for herself, not for me. As if it meant something to her.

“Well, we found out I was bipolar when I tried to kill myself a few years ago after Duck was born. My mental health is stable now, and I won’t risk our happiness by going off the meds during pregnancy and nursing.”

I didn’t really say that. But, as a way to shut her up and to make sure no one in this plant (and probably in this county) ever asked again, it was very tempting.

“We’re fine with just one.” This pisses me off, too, because it seems like I’m quantifying a human being. As if kids are things to be tallied up as objects. Gives me shivers just to think about it.

Moving right along. Yesterday, Duckie and I did a quick run to a dollar store to shop for a baby shower today at work (O’s, of course.) In the checkout line, the conversation turned to kids.

Then it shifted, quite naturally, to birthdays. The lady ringing up our purchases recited a nearly endless list of July birthdays in her family. I lost track immediately. What the fuck, am I supposed to be a part of this conversation?

“Wow. I guess you have a lot of Cancer in your family,” I said.

I didn’t actually say that. She wouldn’t have understood and I wouldn’t have bothered explaining it to her. It would have done nothing but offend.

All I wanted was some diapers and a hooded towel. I most certainly did not want to hear a geneology. I can barely keep track of the birthdays in my own family. Chit-chat is fine, but don’t burden me with details.

Then she confided that her father had died a week before her birthday, which was also in July. “I was about to turn 21,” she said, a little wistfully.

“Well, then, I guess you had a good excuse to drink yourself into oblivion,” I said.

I didn’t actually say that. But trying to dam the flood of these comments was becoming unmanageable.

Then the gentleman next in line spoke up. I use this word in its loosest possible sense. Duck had already expressed her dismay at his attention, and for once I did not encourage her to be polite. He was on the tall side, with a belly that preceeded him by several feet, greasy, curly hair, a florid, greasy face, and wore a sadly mistreated, greasy shirt that didn’t quite cover said belly.

“My daddy died five weeks ago,” he offered.

If it had been sunset, you would have heard crickets.

“Get me the fuck out of here,” I said. “You people are freaks.”

Of course, I didn’t actually say that.

This morning my co-workers are all a-twitter at the upcoming baby shower.

Whiny disclosure: This shower is something of a sore spot for me. I wasn’t told about it until quarter ‘til quitting time yesterday. It meant an extra unplanned stop at the freak show on the way home, when I really wanted to be home and packing for the beach trip this weekend. It also meant that I had been completely forgotten in the shower preparations, even though I sit a few steps away from the lunch room.

This is nothing but karma. When I planned RB’s farewell luncheon here, I completely forgot to include our IT guy, who usually holes up in his office like I do in mine. He’s not in a fishbowl, though.

But still, it rankles.

So I have the requisite gift. The ladies in the Lab wanted to share their little purchases – as if I somehow wasn’t familiar with sleep-and-play onesies, or the new bath toys that Carter has come out with, or the simple fact that a new mom (even the second or third time around) needs as much help and as much stuff as she can get her hands on.

“Don’t you people have lives?” I said.

I didn’t really say that.

When I leave my house, it’s beginning to feel like I’m leaving the planet. Not so much like I’m an alien, but that the people around me are. Are you for real? I want to ask. No, seriously, this isn’t some existential hell I enter when I step off my property? If it’s not, its indistinguishable today.

If I’m going to a different planet, I’d like it to at least look different. Give me some warning that I’ll be surrounded by aliens – truffula trees and two suns, or something along those lines. When strangeness attacks like this it seems dastardly and sneaky.

Yeah, there’s some PMS happening. The aliens are annoying the hell out of me.

But this afternoon I get in my familiar car with my familiar husband and my ever-evolving, strange and familiar daughter, and we head to the beach where we were married.

Somewhere a little outside the norm, but familiar at the same time. Balance. Sunshine and waves. A lot of sunscreen. A good book (Children of Men, P.D. James.) A little bit of bliss.

I hope your weekends offer (or offered, depending on when you get this missive from alien Appalachia) some of the same.

Namaste!


2 comments:

(un)relaxeddad said...

I actually emphasise with that whole (wonderfully expressed) account. I sometimes feel the same way about setting foot into the same building as the people I work with.

I don't really want to be reminded about the reality of the first few months after birth right now, mind you.

SB Gypsy said...

“Get me the fuck out of here,” I said. “You people are freaks.”

;) ha ha ha ha

I feel like that alot,

I love love love PD James,

Have lots of fun in the surf and sun!