I seem to weep only when I’m having my period, and it’s always art—a rare, perfect sentence in a novel, an actor’s solemn gaze, a plaintive air from a violin—that draws my tears. Last time I cried during ironing while listening to a Venezuelan classical pianist on the radio. As my body expelled the lining of its uterus—all the tissue, blood, and nutrients required for a fertilised egg to thrive in, my mind wandered away from its tasks, to the past, away from a childless future I guess I’m still processing, one year later.
What was I weeping for? I tried to voice it, in that cold room: more than that lost child, it was everything… and nothing. Inchoate, phantasmic shapes from the past, emerging from dreams, diaries, other furtive places. Writing about female pain, Leslie Jamison lists different types of pain, which are useful, I think, if only to put our feelings in their proper context, and to ascertain the extent of their depth, and what recourses are available in order to cope. Specificity is power. Everything and nothing: too vague, too encompassing, already exposed to trivialisation and erasure. Put in this way, feeling feels gratuitous.
By writing that previous sentence, I’m already distancing myself from whatever feeling I had felt while listening to the radio. It was eventually demoted to something in passing, aided by the codeine in the Nurofen I took, dulling the edges of everything and nothing, until all the shirts hung on a rail, smooth and perfect, their histories of creases undone, effaced if only for awhile.