I Don’t Want To Try
“Oh…it is you…just your hair is different.”
He didn’t hide his disapproval with the change of my look. His voice was screechy, like a goat.
I bit the inside of my cheek and held my tongue. I wouldn’t know what to say anyway. I had a thousand come backs jetting like F-16s from my brain to my mouth but they all crashed in my throat.
While walking out of the mall, on the street on the way to my cancer support group, while buying groceries, I hear the “Oh, what a cute haircut” comments. I say nothing and sometimes even smile and say Thanks.
But the other day, I got tired of it. I got tired of having to speak the expected norm like some automaton.
I was in the Post Office for my passport application and the clerk said:
“I like that short haircut. It’s cute.”
At that moment, I decided that I am tired of being the Stepford Wife. I looked her in the eyes and said:
“Yeah, well, I didn’t really choose this, I had cancer.”
I watched her for a reaction, feeling elated for letting the truth escape my lips.
Her eyes shot away from mine and her mouth quivered. She lowered her gaze back to the application and stuttered something inaudible.
Should I have felt bad? Maybe.
But I didn’t.
I felt relieved.
I didn’t try to march on the pre-paved road and turn on my signal when I wanted to turn.
I swerved into the shoulder and covered her with dust and pebbles.
And it felt great.
Because that is what my life is. It is not a perfectly paved road with rules and limits. It’s more like a Monaco Grand Prix course. Or like the winding road on the side of the mountain from the beginning of The Shining.
When people asked me how I was doing on email, I used to only say the gravelly road truth to a few, but pretended to be a smooth asphalt cruise for others.
I don’t think I can do this anymore. People need to know I am on a back road, country road, side street, badly lit alley, road covered with a mudslide, cracked from an earthquake, flooded by a hurricane.
I am not smooth sailing. I am not coasting. I am not drifting. I am not faring happily along.
I can’t try any more.
I won’t try any more.
I am tired.
I can’t pacify others by painting a picture of what they want to see.
All I can do is take a Polaroid of myself and my life.
I know that those who truly care will not be offended. And for the rest, well, I suppose they can return to Stepford.