Reconstruction.  It’s such a loaded word, isn’t it?  It rarely signifies the start of something new, of an adventure, of a Good Thing.

It’s a fixing word.  A time that comes after the breaking, after things have been physically torn apart, minds have been stretched beyond imagining by the devastation, and bodies are hurt.

There are several reconstructions in my life right now, all swirling around and around in my head and heart.  None of them are the source of my current pain (OMIGOSH the ovary hurts today; if I don’t relax and write, I swear I’m going straight to the ER to have it taken out), but they all linger over me with guilt and procrastination.

My kitchen is in a state of disarray after a recent water leak.  The floor is exposed concrete.  The cabinets have been hacked into and partially destroyed, with two cabinet doors sitting sadly in my garage, exiled after they got wet in the leak.  The dishes are put away in various new places (Like the guest room.  Sorry, Mom!), and the china is perched in the laundry room.  We’ve had contractors in and out evaluating the space, raising our hopes, and then giving us estimates (ugh).  None of them seem nearly as cool as the one in the book I just finished.  Progress is at a standstill.  Not exactly what I had hoped for when I scheduled Scrap Night AND Widget’s birthday party for our house this week.

My body is kind of messed up too.  I have these goofy little blobs of skin left from my mastectomy in January — they’re the part that shows under your armpits if you put on a bra that’s too tight.  I didn’t even know I HAD fat there, but apparently I do.  They stick out obnoxiously if I put on the wrong style tank top or forgo one during the summer heat.  I’d like to take them out (and my PT says it’s what’s normally done), but it’s another surgery.  And when I called the plastic surgeon, know what it’s called?  Reconstruction.

I met with the plastic surgeon recently, and it went well.  I was a little goofy about it (the exam room was locked, and the nurse was goofing around about it, being all hush-hush as he tried several keys before one worked, letting us in to “the secret room.”  I played along, asking, “is this where you keep the boobies?” and actually cracked him up.  I like a place where even the nurses laugh.

But I still don’t know that I want to have another surgery just to look better.

The other reconstruction — and forgive me if this is a stretch — is the one I grew up with.  Newsweek had a feature article the other week about the changing (or not changing) South, and what the author’s recent tour through the South seems to tell us about the vote in November.  Apparently, Obama is still mistrusted for reasons perpetuated by rumors, rumors that have tenuous basis in fact, such as his religion, his name, and his “foreignness.”  Which is really ridiculous, I think, because his beginnings seem to have a lot in common with those of many of us in the South.

That’s right.  Us.  Because I too was born and raised in the South — the Deep South, even — Mississippi in fact, and those days are with me still.  I opened the Newsweek with trepidation, ready to read yet another northerner’s bashing of the land I loved, and came away from it decidedly mixed.  I love the South.  I love the people, the land, the deep sense of history and tradition.  But some things about it were hard.  Not just hard, but wrong.  And it bothers me that, all these years later, they linger still.

Reconstruction, the time when the South put itself back together after the Civil War, was never really finished, you see.  The War of Northern Aggression really tore the land apart, and the scars remain.  The scars are on the land (I saw them on the Civil War battlefields we played on as children), in people’s minds (a distrust of smooth talkers from the north — which may cause both presidential candidates problems, depending on their choice of running mate), and in their hearts.

Though the land has been put back together, our hearts remember still.

And that’s the problem with all three of these terrible situations, summed up with a single word.  The trauma can never be fully erased, despite serious attempts and money spent on



9 Responses to Reconstruction

  1. oh….wow….that’s really good writing on politics and life….and health.

    I had an out-of-control ovarian cyst, so I feel your pain. Make that, I felt your pain. I had to have the whole dang ovary removed. My (recurring) agony went away after the surgery…for good…Thank you God! (It never occured to me that it might not!)

    Praying that all the reconstruction in your life gets accomplished with the least amount of added pain and aggravation.

    You are never far from our thoughts.

  2. HeatherK says:

    Reconstruction almost seems to imply a forgetting, a moving on or past and that doesn’t really apply in either case. I grew up in CT and am intrigued how that colors my thinking vs a southern upbringing.

  3. Ashley says:

    I feel similarly—about the South, I mean. I’m from Savannah. This is a really thoughtful post.

  4. canape says:

    Remember when we could get out of school for either MLK, Jr. Day or Robert E. Lee day?

    Funny. My school always called it Robert E. Lee day. But they weren’t racist or anything . . .

  5. Lovebabz says:

    Hello Sister,

    I hope you remember me…I was on the panel with you at Blogher in SF?

    I am taking a break from blogging…a bit overwhelmed with my life. But I say Flutter send out a shout out to you on twitter and I had to come on over.

    Your post is brilliant and haunting and so authhentic. It got me thinking about reconstruction (health & history) in a whole new way. Thank you.

    I am holding you in my prayers. Keep the faith!

  6. Sarah says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for sometime, and had to say hi. Thanks for always sharing so much.

  7. I grew up in Alabama and feel ver similarly about the South. It’s often shocking to me that I have to tell people that I grew up in a major city. It’s a very complicated set of emotions. There’s no way I want my girls to grow up there with the societal norms and expectations that are so limiting. But on the other hand, there is just such an abundance of songwriting that extols the virtues of Alabama.

  8. Mage says:

    I just published a post about my own decision to forgo reconstruction. I didn’t write about it, but being a southerner, I was also acutely aware of the historical associations with that word. I remember thinking, “Well, it didn’t do the South much good and it probably wouldn’t do me much good either.”

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