Open Letter to Patti Smith, Day One
I’ve been trying to write to you for months now. Things I should tell you follow behind me place to place like a trail of breadcrumbs, or a swarm of bill collectors. I type and delete, type and delete, type and delete, all the time my mouth so full of all I want to say I can barely swallow. But, here–I’ve made a start.
I’ve been thinking lately that maybe I shouldn’t have fought so hard to keep my uterus, when they found all those fibroids swarming inside me and I looked at the ultrasound and saw none of the usual things–no tiny heart, no nascent fingers, no promise. Just my blotted copybook of a uterus, colonized yet functionally empty. I didn’t know till then how much I wanted a child and though I knew I was running headlong toward the fertility cliff, that desire, that need roared up in me, desperate and hungered. And I’m telling you this not because you know what it’s like to not bear a child, but I suspect you know about hunger and need and how they can pulse inside you, a secret Morse code for which noone’s given you the handbook or answer key. But that was then–which is what we say about everything eventually, isn’t it? And now that I’ve stumbled off the fertility cliff and I find I don’t feel quite as “less than” as I thought I would, I’m wondering why all the fuss? True, I couldn’t quite bring myself to paint an infant onesie at a friend’s baby shower, but I was there and didn’t have to remind myself to smile so that counts as “this too has passed,” doesn’t it? What I’m really asking is how much of what I tell myself is true because it’s grown into fact and how much is true because it has to be, and is it also true that there’s a difference? is it true that that particular hunger has passed, or have I just numbed it by thinking of clever hashtags for perimenopause and by crafting loud comedic groanings about hot flashes? What matters more–what we know is true, what we say is true, what we need to be true? Or am I still asking the wrong question?