jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.

11.23.2008

Yesterday was the last day. I expected any number of last-minuters, but there was really no way to prepare for the desperation, the hope, the faith that people are so willing to give me. The woman with the completely blank application and four foster children, the woman with four children and a husband doing a long stretch for possession, the woman with the disabled child and birth records wiped out in Katrina. And questions, hundreds of questions, piling up and swirling all over each other and I am spinning all over the room trying to give the right answer in the best way. There is a moment, as there always is, where I am so overwhelmed with gratitude, with the grace of others, that I cry.

So, here is the money shot: I have already marveled at the birth certificate. Here is Thailand, it is 1938, and the paper is rich and textured, the writing careful and beautiful. It is a time and a place where a birth is still honorable and notable. The certificate is untouched by its 70-year journey into my hands and we handle it so gently as we make the necessary copies. At the end of the process I shake their hands to thank them in a way that the translator by my side does not need to help me with. I shake the grandfathers hand, I shake the sons hand, I shake his wife's hand. When I reach out to the grandmother, she leans towards me. She is holding her infant grandchild in one arm, extending the other to me. As I grasp her hand, I am looking into the babys face, his enormous round eyes, a thick river of clear drool, the open mouth with two tiny teeth. And really, here is everything. I am looking at the reason for everything, right in its tiny wondering face. I don't think I got ten paces away before I felt my own face slip.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Velvet Verbosity said...

I cried with you. Course, I cry easily these days.

4:15 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

oh sweetie, thank you for even finding the time to spend with me. I'm thinking of you...

1:51 PM  
Blogger apathetic bliss said...

you write so beautifully ...very moving

3:03 PM  

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