A Letter to the Used Tissue I Accidentally Left in My Jeans Pocket...
... and then washed with my favorite sweater
I used you, I know that. Little Women positively undid me. And then I forgot about you. That’s on me.
Even so, you didn’t have to cause such devastation.
When Mr. Lawrence came down that stairway to listen to dear Beth playing his piano, I lost it. The miraculous sweep of sadness, regret and 19th century New England stick-up-your-butt stoicism that rippled across Chris Coopers remarkably creased face reminded me of my own father. When he would shout criticisms of my piano playing from another room during cocktail hour despite the fact that he had no musical training whatsoever. Ok, not an exact comparison, but a trigger is a trigger.
Also, there was Marmee. Dear, brave Marmee, a feminist when it was still taboo to use the word “woman” in polite company. Raising those four girls alone, she reminded me of my own courageous mother, bringing up me and my three sisters in the comfortable suburbs of Los Angeles in the 1960’s while our father was away every day from 9-5, toiling in the insurance industry. The floodgates opened when she told Jo she is ‘angry every day.’ Something our mother never did, actually, because she was educated by nuns in the 1930’s and had her strong feelings removed at the age of 12. But I really soaked you on that one.
Then there were my tears of confusion/joy/wtf? at the end, when Jo seemed to be having it both ways - insisting to her crusty publisher on an ending with a fictional female who remains happily unmarried and at the same time being a fictional female who is happily married. Which totally brought up my own divorce and subsequent struggles with entering the workplace as a skilled but technophobic middle-aged woman. Again, not exactly the same thing. But you were in shreds by then. Sorry.
Don’t you dare tell me I should have brought my linen handkerchief as any self-respecting March woman would have done. We all know about the cheap red H&M
t-shirt-that-got-thrown-in-with-the-whites disaster. Ruined. Utterly ruined. And it was monogrammed.
And now you have transformed into countless little white flecks, hopelessly implanted into the very fibers of my best black sweater, a rueful reminder of the tears I shed for the dying Beth, for Amy and Laurie; a snarky fuck you for leaving you trapped in the front left pocket of my stretchy jeans and then subjecting you to hot water and spin cycles that no self-respecting tissue should ever have to endure when I could have simply deposited you in a trash can at Cinemark.
I’m realizing now that I may have some issues that would be better addressed to a licensed therapist instead of 1,019 tiny bits of snotty tissue forever embedded in my favorite sweater. In any case, I guess I’ll just put this letter in the wash with that black sweater so you can properly read it.
by Christine Stevens