It seems like sometime between late March and early May every year, I get laryngitis. It’s a drag to lose my voice. And I mean, when I lose it, I REALLY lose it.
It’s kinda funny I guess, because it’s so bad, it looks like I’m faking a lost voice, mouthing words and no sound coming out, like a cartoon or bad sitcom with overacting version of laryngitis, but that’s real. My voice is just totally gone.
A few days ago, I really thought I was headed to that place. Where the voice has checked out. But it didn’t happen this year. I made it over that hill without going totally mute. It’s not really painful and it’s not contagious when I do…just allergies…and the voice always eventually comes back; it’s just annoying. But there’s also something oddly enjoyable about having a physical limitation on talking. People get why I’m not joining in a conversation or starting one. It’s acceptable for me to not talk then because I *can’t.* It’s a convenient excuse to be the kind of silent I usually want to be anyway, but people usually don’t let me.
The last time I got my yearly laryngitis in May popped into my head, so I’m writing about it. It’s sort of funny and also sort of sad in a nostalgic kind of way (I can almost hear Sinatra singing right here…’That’s life…’) and my weird brain has now formed this connection between losing my voice and the movie Tombstone and the slow fading out of a friendship. I know. Really, though.
Eight years ago, I lost my voice in early May, right before a good friend’s baby shower. I’d made her specialty onesies as a gift that were Tombstone themed. She was going to have a little girl, so the quotes I printed on them were…
On a cute little onesie with berries on it. And…
On one with daisies on it. The movie Tombstone was connected to her and her husband’s relationship with each other and also our friendship in this complicated and strange way that I wouldn’t explain here fully even if I thought I could in a way outside humans could understand it. But for the purposes of the blog, suffice it to say my friend and I both like this movie and particularly I like Doc Holliday. I relate to him on many levels, and while I made the onesies way before I lost my voice, those baby gifts became a metaphor for me attending the baby shower.
Why would I go to a baby shower, a manufactured group social event the likes of which I’ve never enjoyed, when I didn’t feel my best anyway and couldn’t talk, so I had to carry around a notebook to communicate anything with the other people there, including ‘I’m Jen and I know B from high school…’ when we did the obligatory, ‘go around the room and introduce yourself…’ (every introvert’s favorite part of every group setting…still waiting on that sarcasm font)? Why would I make specialty gifts with ‘inside’ things on them when I could have just given her a gift card? Because B was my friend. And I didn’t have lots of friends. I still don’t. And I’m not sure I can really still consider B one of the ones I do have. B doesn’t know things about me that my blog readers know now…B doesn’t know my dog died.
I don’t feel comfortable reaching out to her anymore because she doesn’t reach out to me. The connection between us, if it was ever really there in the first place, has frayed and faded away. I’ve ‘lost my voice’ with her. Probably permanently. And I’m pretty sure she never reads the things I write here, even though she is one of the very few people in my ‘real life’ that knows the blog exists. (This platform is kind of like that notebook I took to the baby shower…I can still communicate without a voice…I probably communicate more and better this way.) If I don’t make a point to initiate the communication every time with B, I don’t have any with her. And maybe this IS selfish of me, but I just don’t want to use my voice anymore when it isn’t reciprocated…or even listened to.
I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with the movie Tombstone, or Doc Holliday, so without spoilers, the short, short version is…Doc isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. He’s blunt. He’s overly optimistic to arguably irrational and comedic levels. He’s a wiseass. But if he’s your friend, you can count on him without question to give you 100% of whatever he has whenever he can. He’ll show up for you, even dying of tuberculosis, because that’s the kind of loyalty and effort he gives his friends. The thing is though? Wyatt Earp would come to Doc anytime he was needed, TOO. Wyatt reached out to Doc, TOO, and not just when he needed something. That’s why Doc considered him such a good friend. One he’d show up for sick as a dog and put out as much effort as he had. Special effort. I very rarely compliment myself (I can usually barely stand accepting them from other people), but I try really hard to be that kind of friend. I try to be Doc Holliday. But I haven’t found very many Wyatt Earps. I DO have a handful of them. And to them, I’ll just say…
I don’t have lots of friends, but I go all in for the ones I do have. I’ll show up whenever you need me. Even voiceless. Just…you know…I hope you’d show up for me too.