I huddled on the bathroom floor, shrieking wretchedly into an orange bath towel. Its ratty looped fibers filled my mouth and stifled my sobs of betrayal and rage. I was scared of the surgery performed on my wrist days before, scared that it wasn’t necessary and that I didn’t give fully informed consent. No one was there to comfort me. It was a Friday night and my friends all had better plans. I was bone tired, but when I shut my eyes, I was alone with my thoughts, so sleep was out of the question. I rocked back and forth, my face contorted, until all the water was wrung out of me. My roommate was drunk; she invited me to come drink with her friends. I sat with them for hours, until she passed out in her bed and all the guests went home.
I have cried a lot in the past six weeks. I ping-ponged between hysterically laughing and hysterically sobbing in the ambulance and at the hospital. For weeks after the accident, I cried at silly comments and sad songs on the radio. My makeup was gone. My job was gone. I didn’t have the energy to see friends and I didn’t care about school. My father was angry with the way I was handling the accident; we didn’t speak for days. I contracted a bad virus that knocked me out for a week. I had upsetting flashbacks to the accident. I became morbid. A friend suggested counseling. I felt utterly alone.
Looking back, though, I was never really alone. My friends and acquaintances rallied to my aid in ways I never would have expected. They donated mountains of aid: Chinese dumplings, sushi, macrobiotic vegan food, brown bags stuffed with groceries, cherry pie, frozen yogurt, get well cards and chocolate eggs and magazines. Two friends cooked me an entire traditional Irish meal for St. Patrick’s Day. One friend washed every dish in my apartment. Another took me to church two days after the accident. (I cried at the altar.)
Since the cast came off two days ago, I’ve decided to name my scars. Wolverine is where the titanium plate and the eight screws went into my arm to stabilize my radius; he is a long, thin line flanked by dark dots, still purple and indented into my skin. I joke that next time, I’ll go whole hog and get the X-Men claws to match. Hedwig is the carpal tunnel surgery, performed as a precautionary measure; she is broader, brighter, an angry pile of pink scar tissue bisecting my palm. I hated Hedwig when I first saw her. She made me feel broken.
Last night, I showed off my scars to a room full of drunk hipsters, holding my arm up high like a president swearing an oath. We were reciting poetry in a dim auditorium in the East Village, our tongues lubricated by free wine; it burned in my chest and made me brave. I wasn’t ashamed of my scars, or sad, or lonely under the blinding spotlight in a room of strangers. I knew one person in the audience; at least we were there together. It felt good to be part of a “we.” By the time we left, I had at least three more acquaintances, if not more.
Somewhere between the night in the bathroom with the towel and last night, something snapped. I was suddenly aware of how sick I was: sick of isolating myself, sick of playing by the rules. I spend far too many afternoons and evenings working alone in my room; that changes now. I have had the same hair cut and color since I was fifteen; that will change soon. My ears are only pierced in one place; that will change too. I will drink too much champagne and bad wine. I will wear stilettos to parties. I will get a job and go to grad school and revel in the things I am learning. I will flirt with men and confide in my friends and say yes more often. I will DO THINGS, and I will not do them alone. Life is too precious to waste on frightened self-preservation.
There is a transformation underway. I can feel it.
Am I afraid of it?
Yes, a little.
But it’s going to be okay.
All my thanks and love to everyone who has helped me through this ordeal. My arm is healing well; I will begin physical therapy in a month. Glitter Sleuth will post sporadically until the semester ends in early May, when regular reviews will resume.
P.S. My makeup is back. And it feels FABULOUS.