"Dear Prudence" by Amanda Grieme

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dear Frieda...listen

4/3 - Listen
Dear Frieda –

I feel comfortable telling you everything in person, with the exception of how I met Jack. It places a whole new twist on why I don’t want to continue being an educator, doesn’t it? I didn’t continue to teach when Jack and I decided to make a go of it, I worked in the fashion industry as a Stylist’s Assistant, and then I bartended. I waited a year until he was finished with school, until I pursued another teaching position. . . and I procured a maternity leave English position, and it turned into a full-year, then this year, until I cracked up and had a break down. Although I really respected the people that I worked for, I always had a looming feeling that somehow my past would sneak up on me, and I would be misunderstood as some sort of strange bird, rather than just a woman who fell in love with a younger man. In the world of education, those perceived as strange birds are not welcome. When I was teaching Hawthorne’s, “The Scarlet Letter,” I constantly envisioned myself as Hester Prynne. Although, I wasn’t an adulteress with a scarlet “A” on my chest, but I had an “L&T” for lousy teacher, or a “W” for weirdo or wild woman, or worst of all a “N” for nonconformist.

I’m not even one of those conforming nonconformists who claim to be odd, but have jumped on a “what’s odd now” bandwagon. I am my own bird, and that is one of the many reasons that Jack and I were so attracted to each other; he, too, is a unique soul. When he was my student, we formed a platonic friendship that oozed our attraction for one another, but we controlled our unspoken passion, and applied it to art. I was the theater director, so every day I stayed after school for theater practice, and Jack and another student Lynn and I would have art therapy sessions, where we would sit, listen to great music, and would create fantastic oil pastel collaborative murals, while we’d talk about everything and anything. I was blown away by what Jack and I had in common, as was he; his quiet introspection and passion for art and music were/are refreshing, and there was nothing young about him; he is an old soul, and although chronologically he was 17 or 18 years old when he was my British Literature student, his eyes and his mind said differently.

Unfortunately, another thing that Jack and I have in common is our mental illness, although he is not medicated and VERY changeable. I remember that was one of the first things that I recognized about him; he shuts down and nods off, and I thought that he was a junkie. But then I watched closer and noticed his obsessive-compulsive habits, and profound sadness dripping from his green eyes and crooked smile. In addition to being Manic Depressive, he has Tourette’s Syndrome and Narcolepsy. He doesn’t have the atypical “fuck you, damn you,” kind, but instead suffers from twitches and vocal tics that are exacerbated by stress and his downward mood swings. . . and then he falls asleep. But it’s amazing Frieda, when he plays music, he doesn’t twitch at all. Nor does he when he sleeps. But when he becomes depressed, his physique, his demeanor, everything shows it; his body exudes misery, and it is really difficult to be around.

Hopefully he will be able to attain medical benefits through a job, or will be able to afford a prescription plan. Is there a prescription plan for guitarists? No? I thought that I would ask. Health care certainly is a financial kick-in-the-bottom, isn’t it?

A positive thing about us both suffering with such strange afflictions is that we empathize with one another, and we can talk each other back into the world of the living when it seems like nothing is worth it. He and I have saved each other many times; people definitely join for a reason, even if it is unusual circumstances, don’t you think?
Regards, Ana

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