Glass & Metal Pendant: Recollections on Self Discovery in Youth
Note: arisen from a guided Stanislavsky style relaxation exercise with Martha Gehman
I saw bones and flesh and teeth and blood and I laughed - seeing how silly I was for taking this all so seriously. And my bones glowed like the plastic bones we scattered in our yard on Halloween - and yet there is some ineffable nature that lives in the depths of my own bones while consciousness flows.
Memories are bizarre: suddenly seeing something I once saw and feeling what I once felt in my flesh and bone - yielded from their own depths, existing in me, but not in the current physical world.
In the tips of my fingers I felt that little glass and metal pendant heart. I found it as I dug through my innards. It’s been sitting in there since the 3rd grade.
I was deeply retreated into myself. I saw what I was - a skeleton covered in nerves. If I dig though my stomach I see my fingers become stained with my own blood. I laughed like a marionette skeleton, aglow in a dark world. My jaw moves up and down in a comical fashion.That’s when I began to dig - where my stomach would be if I could feel more than bone.
That necklace - a hollow heart shape with the outside lined in glass rhinestones. I remember. I had wanted a locket, a secret little box in the form of a silver heart. This is what I got.
I loved it nonetheless.
It was the third grade and I would run the chain of this necklace over my body and kept it in my desk by the French dictionary that I always kept open to the page of naked people. I always kept it open to the page of the naked people. The anatomy page.
Once a classmate noticed and called me out in front of everyone, so I couldn’t keep the French dictionary open to the naked people anymore.
But I drew them. I drew women men and men to the best of my eight year old abilities. I drew them on purple construction paper. I drew them next to each other, in the naked embraces, naked women staring into the horizon I created as a straight line causing some semblance of depth in the middle of the page. And I would touch myself over the drawings. Once I used the head of a Barbie doll which had the right size and yielding consistency to hit me where I wanted to feel it. At this age, I experienced orgasm.
My parents must have known. My mom found the drawings and sat with me to talk about it. She never says much on this subject, but her face gives away everything she is feeling. To this day her face gives it away. When she first walked into my room in Los Angeles she zeroed in on the one blue picture in my room that Mara took of me. Her face falls into a thousand yard stare.
When I was eight, I told her I was interested in the human body for pure artistic reasons. I still stand by that sentiment.
I now see the curiosity and the sensitive sensuality with which I pursued my early sexuality - and it felt terribly unsafe and secretive.
I recall my dad barging into my room yelling about something banal. He then commanded AND PULL UP YOUR PANTIES as he slammed the door without looking directly at me.
I would push the chain of the heart into alluring shapes in my palm, on my desk, and glide it over myself.
I didn’t know what sex was. When I found out, soon after this phase with the heart shaped necklace, I was mortified that I has accidentally stumbled into this behavior myself. Funnily enough, I also found out what sex was through the dictionary in a third grade class. The definition came from the English dictionary. Unlike the French dictionary, there were no humanizing pictures to accompany the bleak and uncomfortable words. When a man puts his penis into a woman’s vagina and all the kids in the class responded in the same way:
I acted as mortified as they were - the real disgust lying in myself. I didn’t stop touching myself, but the shame was more penetrative. I submerged into murky waters. The surface of it was difficult to hold my head over and take as clear and deep breaths as I could.
And I want to laugh, because it is the alternative to crying. And I’ve already cried so much. So goddamn much for the pain and confusion and disgust I felt wedged into the nerve endings between my bones and holding up blood flow, like a little metal clot.