On doctors’ letters, and women’s bodies, and dreams
Dear Hillary, or should I call you Madame Secretary?
See, we have this strange relationship, you and I. I think of you with great affection, worry about you, get annoyed by you sometimes, tear up when you soar, wring my hands when you stumble. I feel an awful lot of things about you: hope, longing, sometimes desperation, sometimes utter confidence, occasionally confusion. I sort of love you. But only sort of. Because we have never met.
I am writing to you because our relationship just got more intimate. Last week, I read the results of your blood tests, mammograms, and pap smears (though your doctor, smart woman, carefully avoided that sticky term). I know the force your blood exerts on your veins when your heart pumps, and when it rests. I know what killed your father and mother. I have the quantifications of the lipids and the names of the medications that flow through your veins.
I wonder: what does it do for Americans to read the word “breast” in a presidential candidate’s physician letter? What about the word “gynecological”? Does it help or hurt you in the polls? In our hearts? And how do you feel about it? Are you glad to remind us of your fleshy, biological womanness, the curves and recesses of your body? Does it leave you feeling naked? Or have you already been so laid bare? Does it unearth for you any remembrance of the way we publicly undressed you before, when Monica too was being undressed in our imaginings, pictured in her nakedness, your body next to hers in our minds’ eyes, your imagined sexual temperaments compared, your sizes and shapes assessed and adjudicated?
In these nights following the publication of your doctor’s letter, these nights when so many Americans have again considered your body, I hope you do not dream of her — or even of Bill. I hope you dream only of your own body, of your own beautiful woman self in your own beautiful Oval Office. Oval — a feminine shape, of course. Like ovum, ovaries, ovulate. May your own Oval Office be fertile — for you and for us all.
Now that I have read your intimate details, the procedures most of us undergo behind doors that will stay closed, I feel I should reciprocate somehow. After all, our relationship, as I said, is an unusual one. So much intimacy, yet we are strangers. So I will tell you: my left leg is shorter than my right. I have a mole on my back that perhaps I should have removed, but I like it. My breasts gained a cup size when I had children, then lost two after nursing them. I take anti-anxiety medication. I love my hands but hide my feet. This is but a small offering; I see your self-disclosure. I hold the intimacy of the moment.
The night after I read your doctor’s letters, I dreamed of you. I met you at a small event with a few dozen people attending. You were quiet and introspective. You were very small; you were a head shorter than me, at least. I stood behind you and wanted to lay my hands on your soft, narrow shoulders. You moved to sit in an armchair, pulled up the ottoman, and invited my children to come and sit with you. You wanted to meet them, hold them. My son and daughter were on their way across the room to you, your arms open wide to them, when I woke up.