"I want to believe I am looking into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing -- that the light is everything -- that it is more than the sum of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do."
--from "The Ponds" by Mary Oliver
I have a brown birthmark at the top of my ribs. It looks like a thumbprint. I used to think it was where the doctor first picked me up -- it's in that spot where you hold babies, where he was probably holding me when he probably said, "She's slimy, but cute." It used to really bother me, but then when I got boobs I couldn't see it anymore, so I stopped worrying...about that.
There's a chicken pox scar under my left eye. I couldn't help it. I couldn't take it. I scratched it. I think a scar should be tougher to get than just picking a scab during The Price is Right.
I don't mind listing scars. That spot where the motorcycle burned my calf. That diagonal slash -- now really faded -- like what a hot curling iron could do to the inner thigh.
However, my face is symmetrical, like it's cut out of folded construction paper. It's one of the reasons I look like the girl you know. I hate it when people ask me, "Do you have a sister in town?" but I like it when they say I look like Dar Williams. Many things seem perfect. Lampshades and perfume bottles. Bowling balls. Pizza on moving days.
The lady at city hall said, "You changed your hair!" I said, "It's called roots. My roots." She laughed. The clock above her head said half-past mousey and she processed my tax check with her perfect fingernails.
There's the way I do or don't keep myself up. There's what the motorcycle did to me, and then there's my inner coffee cup -- and it's chipped, and I can't reach it with the superglue.
I know, I know...you love me for my flaws...that's what we all say, but it's not just talk. You're depending on my imperfection. I promise not to disappoint. Nearly perfect people aren't usually great chums, and they won't split a box of Wheat Thins with you. Yet, somehow, I want you to be perfect for me. Perfectly catty or willing to dish or ignore the dishes. Perfection has this way of making you as edgy as a bowling ball, so then I begin to see the mystery of loving what sucks about all of us. Just when I get resolved that my imperfections are nothing, I discover that my compatibility is hinging on my highs AND my lows. You're not ignoring them -- you're loving them. And I love the way you say "expecially". The perfection of my hair might make you recoil. The perfection of your nails makes me think you're a boring person.
Can you see how my quest for self-improvement is as crippling as my biggest flaws? Or maybe the quest doesn't bother you as much as the summit. So, I think I can keep on questin'. I make up words and then make them slang. That's so grammatically bold and imperfect of me. There are SO MANY books I want to read, but I won't read them all because I know it would make you feel bad because you have two little kids and no time to pee by yourself, much less read. Then again, my handle on the economy thanks to a series in Vanity Fair could make you want to crawl across the counter and plant one on me because smart girls with a handle on the economy are so sexy.
I wonder if I'm getting a glimpse into the white fire of the great mystery that Mary Oliver is talking about. You finish people sentence's incorrectly and I ask too many questions, and maybe not the right ones. Dammit. If I lose ten pounds and start to look more like some other lady on some other tv show (I just got compared to Sarah Jones from Alcatraz), you might call me a skinny bitch. I don't want my greatness to come between us, and if you get too high falutin' then WHO is going to slum into reality show conversations with me?
There's the way I pronate in tennis shoes. There's the one pinky finger that's starting to look like Grandma's. It used to be perfect. There's a list, you know, of markings on my body -- and my soul. I can take Advil for the pinky, but there's a crack in my foundation -- at least one. I want to know if the earthquake inspector would order a repair or an immediate evacuation. Hang on -- what if he's just a big alarmist and the truth is that I could live with these cracks for a hundred more years? Inspectors are notoriously imperfect.
For now I'll keep my hair and the bathroom sink a little messy. Don't want to set off any alarms. You can stay bad at calling me back. I like it. It would scare me if you always called me back. I like my coffee super-hot, my eggs a tad runny, and my people perfectly imperfect.
Just wondering...Where's your birthmark? What's your mortal flaw? Opinions on perfection?