There are two mason jars on the counter
next to the cash register of your local
convenience store. One says: “Johnny
has been diagnosed with stage 1 cancer”,
and the other says, “Please, help!
April needs to be admitted
to a psychiatric care facility.”
Let me tell you which jar
My mom shouldn’t have had to
have been so ashamed of being
prescribed antidepressants that she
cried in front of me in our kitchen and
then threw them away before she
finished the bottle.
My best friend should not have
to hide her Paxil in a bottle of
Advil, because she does not want
her roommates to find out.
I should not have to ask to “go
to the bathroom” because I feel like
I’m about to die, as I step up to share
a piece of me with all of you or
when the waiter puts down my meal
in front of me and I can already feel it
going straight to my thighs.
I am not stupid.
My mother is not stupid,
my best friend is not stupid,
the boy who stands on the other
side of the railing in the middle
of the bridge, who is ready, he is
ready, he is so ready to go, to get
out of here, to escape all of this –
he is not stupid.
And I am not afraid now, to tell you
that I am scared to death of the
idea of fear and the calorie count of the
salad I ordered. My best friend is not afraid
to take her Paxil in the morning, in the
lounge of her suite at college.
But that’s only because we have had
each other to tell ourselves that we
are not stupid, we are not
worth less than Johnny,
it is okay to be scared, to
be a control freak, it is okay
to be sad.
So, picture this:
You are at that convenience store
again. You have seen your mother’s
shame, your best friend’s embarrassment,
a stranger’s fatal flaw. When you get
two quarters back as change,
I hope you will put one in
Johnny’s jar, and the other