Dangerous Compassions

fears of our ancestors

“Are the fears of our ancestors supposed to become our fears?” I asked.

“Uh…” Ming said.

“My mom was afraid of bridges.  She was also claustrophobic,” I said.

I’d just asked Ming to take a picture of the varicose veins on the back of my right leg.  He took the pic and showed it to me, and I was confused.

“Is that really my leg?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said.

“I mean, does it really look like that?  Is that an accurate…”

“Yeah!” he said.

I was amazed by how subtle the veins looked.  To my fingers, they felt bulging and weird.  I guess like in my mouth, a lil bump can feel huge to my tongue.  But then I look in the mirror, and it’s a tiny dot.

The reason I was afraid about my veins is that I have an ancestor who bled to death from a ruptured varicose vein.  When I met some distant relatives in Carrizozo, New Mexico, my primo mentioned that lady.  Well, I mentioned her, and my primo said he’d heard the story too.  Maybe he also had the fears of our ancestors.

I imagine our ancestor bleeding into the earth.  They lived in adobe houses.

So the fears–death-fears.  I almost died from my ulcer.  That was bleeding too.


Then I was telling Ming this story about a father-in-law I had, this father-in-law’s varicose veins on his legs, his feet.  And how we would sit on couches in the living room, where there was a tv, and my parents-in-law would smoke cigarettes, almost chain smoke.

I smoked their cigarettes sometimes, and they were really horrible cigarettes.  Bought from costco by the carton, I think.

“God, they were horrible,” I told Ming, thinking of those long, nasty, cheap cigarettes.  I sound so ungrateful.  These in-laws opened their home to me, fed me, loved me, and let me smoke their cigarettes.  And here I complain.  I’m sorry.

“I was kind of a snob about cigarettes, when I was a kid,” I said.  Ming nodded.  He seems ok with that.


The clouds were so pretty, yesterday.


By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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