Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Becoming Unstitched

I had the stitches removed this afternoon, and the surgery is healing well. I look like someone who's had a cold for three days, which I have, so it works out fine.

What's even more important for my self-esteem is that my squashed fat lip is back to normal. I was getting tired of telling people I was going to a costume party as Hedda Nussbaum.

The week of the lip had sent me into paroxysms of adolescent self-consciousness as intense as Marcia Brady's with her flattened proboscis. There were only two categories of people I wanted to see me: People who knew me really, really well, and people who would not be likely to ever see me again. This left me with three activities: Going to work, coming home and going shopping. I blew off a couple of social engagements that involved meeting people I "knew" from online, fearing they would henceforth connect the name "Melinda" with "That poor girl with the lip."

You may say, "Can you really be that vain and insecure? There are people going around maimed and disfigured for life and you can't deal with a few temporary lumps and bumps?" But this isn't a matter of extent; it's a matter of timing. With a loved one having a serious illness and a friend who's acting strange, I feel that it's not only the terrain of my face that's unfamiliar, but the terrain of my life...and it's not hard for me to envision waking up in a world where I'm recognized by no one.

It would be so easy to let myself get sucked into an inky whirlpool of fear, but I don't have that luxury. It's tough enough to stay afloat in this world when your arms are strong and your backstroke impeccable. So I will buy a new lipstick, grab my datebook, and go forward.

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