Sunday, 26 February 2012

feb 25, 2012

tonight, i'm going to mend the handles of a canvas bag that my friend l.w. brought over to the apartment yesterday. it looked like a lost cause, the way both straps were completely severed. but i knew that with some heavy-duty stitching, it could still be used. the mend would definitely be visible, mind you - what with having to match up the frayed edges and the tears not being on a seam where the stitching would be less noticeable. but i'm okay with that.

in this project so far, i've been remarking on what a stark difference there is between fixing and mending. fixing something is easy - you swap out whatever is broken for something that's not broken. in this case, you buy a couple new straps for the bag, remove the old ones and stitch on the new: badda-bing badda-boom - it's fixed.

sometimes, replacing broken parts with new ones is necessary for safety - as with cars or bikes or strollers or rock-climbing equipment. in my mind, things that carry people or keep us safe fit under this category, but mending is a different creature. mending is taking what you've got and making it work using the existing parts, including whatever has cracked or torn or split or come apart. sometimes, you add a patch or reinforce it. but you don't generally swap out something flawed for something brand new.

mending isn't always possible - it's good to be practical and realistic about that rather than single-minded and dogmatic. but mending is a constant in life, and i like working with that idea in this blog. we gotta take what we've got and find a way foward. that's why this is the mending year and not the fixing year.

truth be told, i tend to bristle against the idea of fixing. it offends me in a way. it seems to me that when someone wants an object (or a person) to appear like new, there's some level of denial about what has happened. fixing, to me, feels like a magic wand we want to employ to pretend the event that led to the damage didn't happen.

after my accident, people kept telling me "you look good!" they focused on assuring me that my appearance (my face) ended up unchanged despite the severity of my injuries. they thought i was lucky to appear as if i hadn't been through the experience. except that i have. i have been through the experience. i experienced the bruises and breaks and cuts and swelling and bleeding and excruciating pain and the fear and the side-effects of the medication and the breathing problems and having my face glued together and my nose stitched up and the endless fucking doctors and the endless fucking x-rays & ct scans and the ultrasounds of every one of my organs and the pleurisy and more painkillers than i've ever taken in my life and the mistrust of my body and the joint stiffness and losing my range of motion in my right side and the ankle problems and the hip problems and the crackling knees and the back spasms and the physio appointments and the lost income and the nose surgery and the experience of coming to understand that i'm actually mortal. i can and will die.

i've been utterly changed by all of that. how could i possibly pretend that none of it has happened? why would i want to? i don't know...maybe it helps you to feel better about the whole thing, to look at me and see the same face as before. maybe the accident wasn't so bad, after all? maybe it's less threatening to think about it that way. or maybe you thought it would be helpful to me to hear that? i'm not sure. it's hard to say because i'm not in your head.

i actually don't mind people seeking comfort and reassurance wherever they can find it, but i do wish that it wasn't so wrapped up in the "just like before" thinking. i mean, did they really think i was unchanged because my face looks about the same? was that the thing that made me lucky in this whole scenario?

until time travel is invented, going back to a point in time before something happened won't be possible - at least not completely. there's always something visible that carries over from the experience: a scar, a mark, a stain, a strain, a cost, a memory. fixing tends to focus on making those things invisible. mending works with what's happened.

personally, i think it's better to acknowledge your experiences - talk about them when they come up in conversation, acknowledge the effects, confide in friends. there's relief in that, and healing. like i've said before, i embrace visible stitches, puckering fabric, frayed edges. that's not to say that i want to mend things badly - i don't. but sometimes, like in life, it's not possible to mend things back to the original. maybe i'm being too poetical about the whole thing, but that's where i stand on the matter. mending, not fixing. let it be imperfect and real and true.


  1. I used to be very self-conscious about the scars that evidence a breast reduction I had in my early twenties. It was a lover of mine who kissed them and whispered that they were magnificent because they were proof that I was strong and brave, and that I had a story she wanted to hear.

  2. what a beautiful story. i hope you totally ravished her for that! :) sending you and your scars much love! ♥

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