Tuesday, February 16

Ramona

I’ve been working on a book I wrote when I was around 22. It’s an account of the year I spent in Romania at 19.  I’m really glad I have it because if I wanted to write the book now, at the age of 43, I wouldn’t remember all the details. However, since I DID write down all the details, as I read through it, my ability to recall the sights, sounds, and smells... is with vividness.

My goal in writing the book was to share the experience in general. Now as I read through it, with so much hindsight in what I felt, how I coped, what I was thinking, and how I feel about it now, I am continually crying.

At 19 I was strong enough to see and feel the sadness because my perspective on everything was still young perspective. I’m an old hag to pain, sadness, hardship, happiness, joy, and my now old perspective is wiser. Unfortunately I now see greater sadness in the life of a child that had no life beyond orphanage and hospital walls. 

I’m reading what I wrote about Ramona. She was dying a slow death from AIDS. I remember her tiny laugh that had everything to do with feeling joy at being held. She was like a bird, so tiny, but almost three.

I’m writing this because I’m hearing myself say a lot lately about enjoying life, living it to the fullest, being the best me I can be, and now suddenly I’m re-reading my book and I have the reality of Ramona in front of me. She never had any chance to “live life to the fullest” or enjoy it. She lived her life in pain and alone. Fighting for strength, peace, comfort, anything… doing it and dying completely alone in the world.

I feel so desperate to be told that Ramona will reincarnate as a lucky soul given everything she could want, including a loving family. I really can’t believe she only got one shot, and the whole experience was shitty because of the decision of a young mother to not keep her child in her arms, but to leave her to the walls and the cribs. A prisoner.

I don’t know how to quantify the benefit my year in Romania gave me, but I know this for sure: it gave me humanity. It gave me clarity. We are like continual dominoes… not one of us can fall over without touching another, be it good or bad.

Ramona died on my birthday. I’m going to insist it was so I knew she appreciated my domino touching hers.

Friday, February 5

Everybody has a “thing”.

I’ve sat down with the desire to articulate a thought, and as often happens with me, I’m sitting here going, “how do I explain this?” It’s very vague to say Everybody has a thing, and yet I’m pretty sure there isn’t a word for what I’m place-holding with “thing”.

So first of all, I am aware this post is even more Natalie than usual, but if you enjoy my craziness, keep reading.

Most people when interacting with strangers, say as few words as possible, make as little eye contact as possible, and move along as quick as possible. Humans are so easily uncomfortable in most situations. When you come across someone who isn’t uncomfortable, it’s obvious, and even refreshing. What I’ve noticed about the people who are comfortable is that they clearly are also comfortable with themselves. If the individual is uncomfortable in general, all situations will also be.

I see this all the time and I love to “get involved”. It is one of my favorite things to look somebody in the face and totally ignore their discomfort. I talk to them as though they are completely comfortable, and I do that by knowing they have a “thing”. 

I’m going to use the totally corny example of a diamond. The way a diamond becomes beautiful is by being cut multiple times into something with facets facing every direction. Life cuts facets into us, and no two people end up with the same facets. THIS is their “thing”. You never know when you are talking to someone what they have gone through, learned, accomplished, or anything, but by looking into them, and ignoring any discomfort, I get to see and hear more of who they really are. This thing I do makes it so easy for me to look past the ugly pieces humans want to throw out there. Rudeness, attitude, curtness, all kinds of non-beautiful interaction. By being unwilling to look at their discomfort or attitude, I get to see a bit of the real them and their “thing”.

Coming into contact with so many people for my job means that some people get used to me seeing their “thing” and they get excited because what they don’t know is I am showing them my “thing”. Being able to see someone’s “thing” changes things. It changes discomfort.