Is it through our vulnerabilities we get to know each other that much better? By revealing them, I mean. Taking the risk. Showing our underskirts to each other.
I saw much of it today. There's a lot of pain kicking around. And once the door is opened, if only a sliver, the sadness within begins to waft out. In little dollops at first, then some cloud bursts, then a steady stream. We are stitched together very lightly, aren't we? More like a basting seam. I suppose we only get the perfect French seams when we are aged as far as we can go and moving over to make room for someone new and there's no room for leaking.
I know some that keep that stiff upper lip going all the time. And it is only through the odd little slippage of the mask you get to assemble some of the story. Piece by piece. I was at a wonderful birthday dinner tonight, a packed hall. The recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal, among other medals and certificates, is a dear friend, like a mother to me since I moved here. And it was only when, privately, she took me into the archival room where all her awards were encircling us and I held her hand that I saw how truly important all this was to her. This made sense of her life. Her volunteerism, her stoicism in the the loss of her husband and the death of a barely adult son a few months later. This filled the void. She let me see that void, briefly, when she squeezed my hand tightly and said: What does this all mean anyway?
Bling, I wanted to say back, like pollyfilla on the walls. Filling the holes. Making it all look pretty. I didn't, of course.
Would I want such honours? I wouldn't say no to a Booker now, would I?
And another. Sharing the pain of his daughter's marital collapse. It's sad when our children's adult dreams shatter in their faces. Sadder than the failure of our own dreams. Why is that?
And another, her identical twin sister in the final ravaging stages of alcoholism and there is nothing she can do. I know what familial alcoholism is all about. I just have no idea what it is like to care so deeply for someone who is dying from it who is the exact mirror of one's self. Who shared the womb with you. Who is locked underneath her demons with a layer of vodka keeping the world at bay.
It is only in revealing our sadness and weakness, we allow others the opportunity to touch us, to feel the connection, to say, perhaps - me too. Me too. I know. I was there. I am there.