I remember the day that I spit on the American Dream, wrapped it up in a few squares of two-ply toilet paper, and sent it swirling down the toilet to the land of crappy inhibitions. I was six. It was summer and my Grandma, hardcore but extremely caring, was doing the dishes. Other girls in the neighborhood were dressing their Barbies, fixing their hair, and walking them down the aisle. I sat carving nothings into our kitchen table, day-dreaming of illnesses. I wanted nothing more that summer than to have a short summer long affair with cancer. At that age it was easily glorified. Instead of a church wedding I wanted a hospital room.
Something about the idea of being wheeled through the corridors of a hospital sounded so romantic to me. I didn’t want flowers and a diamond ring, I wanted an adjustable bed, and cartoons all day.
Okay, I know, it sounds just a tad fucked up, but I didn’t want to die.
At that age death is something that happens to you, painlessly in your sleep when you are one hundred years old. You welcome it because you can hardly move and your house is engulfed in the smell of nose bleeds and moth balls. To me there was no difference in me wanting cancer and my childhood friend, Mary Beth, asking God for an Atari and Pac Man. They both seemed unreasonably entertaining, and I knew God wasn’t going to give Mary Beth an Atari, but I thought maybe, if I carved enough nothings into the kitchen table God would give me cancer.
Eventually, I traded in my best friend cancer for a box of pads and a training bra. Even though, I thought that protrusions growing from my chest and bleeding from forbidden places were characteristics worthy of a hospital trip, I kept my mouth shut. They didn’t make a Barbie to recreate that situation, and if Mattell wasn’t turning a profit from it you knew it was bad. Although, they should make a hormonally imbalanced doll that rolls its eyes and randomly starts undisputable arguments for anyone that plans on having a baby. Babies are cute, but when your clock is ticking you seem to forget that babies turn into teenagers, and teenagers are like the Jeffery Dahmer of the child raising experience. Pint size little cannibals, mutilating you with their outbursts and bad decisions, and then right when you think you will get peace they eat away at your patience. Just like an abuser, you can’t get enough of them, because even if they are pissed and yelling, at least they are communicating.
I never wanted a picket fence and 2.5 children. You just have to keep painting picket fences and .5 of a child couldn’t be much help around the house. Which half of the child does America want you to have anyway. The half that constantly spews beautiful nothings out of their mouth, even whilst preforming the simplest of tasks, or, well the other half. Classic tale of American society, creating a dream that is not viable or reasonably obtainable. I got the wedding and the husband. I never searched for it. It was hurdled at me, at a high speed, and with some odd reflex that all women have in their vagina, I just caught it. Like catching a foul ball at a baseball game so it doesn’t break your face. Walking down the aisle I was so pissed off at God because Beth got her Atari, and I never got my cancer. Instead, I was walking with my own two feet, guided down the aisle in a ridiculously white dress, which was tainted long before I bought it. My hair pinned up with baby’s breath poking into my scalp- the epitome of the trashy early 90′s Bridezilla. A year later, I said fuck you to Ataris and cancer, and got a divorce. Now that is something to thank god for.
I know my parents, MY society just wanted me to fit in this mold of perfection…people want guarantees, but as hard as my parents tried, at six I started breaking tiny pieces off myself and cramming them into as many different ventricles I could find in my imagination. I decided at a young age that I would never fit fully into one place, instead small pieces of me would fit oddly into everywhere. As great as the American dream sounds, I never wanted to be boxed in by a fence. Marriage was never a guarantee to be unconditionally loved…diamonds were never my best friend anyway. I learned the hard way that sex is free but divorce isn’t, and I have enough laundry to do already. Some people might see me as broken, bruised, or jaded, but that isn’t true. I just found my happiness in a different dream that started with carving nothings and praying for cancer.
Photo by Elizabeth Rago