Originally uploaded by Citizen Rob.
We were at Target today, buying much-needed clothes for her, and as we wandered the store, we ended up in the movies section. When she found the dvd of The Little Mermaid, we realized that Schuyler never actually seen it. She'd seen the crappy tv series version, but never the movie itself. We got it for her, because we're swell.
I don't remember when I saw the movie originally; when it came out in 1989, I was in college and, to be completely frank, I was mostly drunk. I doubt very seriously that I was seeing a great many Disney films. Still, it's definitely been a few years since I'd seen The Little Mermaid, long enough that I'd forgotten the deal that Ariel makes with Ursula, the giant, squid-legged, fat villainous drag queen, in exchange for giving her some legs.
Schuyler was already captivated by all the mermaids. But when Ariel had her voice taken away, something occurred to Schuyler, something that in all these years she's never actually come out and addressed with us on her own initiative.
For the first time in her life, Schuyler told us that she can't talk.
She pointed to the television and then pointed into her open mouth while shaking her head. She then pointed to herself and did the same thing. "I don't talk," she said over and over again in her strange, no-consonant language that we can usually understand but which is pretty much Martian to the rest of the world.
She then watched the rest of the movie with deep interest. When Ariel got her voice back, Schuyler turned and looked at us with an unreadable expression, as if waiting for an explanation. I couldn't tell if she was sad or just calling bullshit.
After the movie was over, Schuyler clearly wanted to discuss the issue further. She continued to tell us with her gestures that, like Ariel, she also had no voice. When Julie pointed out to her that she had her device to speak for her, Schuyler very carefully searched for just the right words, typing out "no mouth" at first, but frowning and deleting her unsatisfactory choice. I don't think she knew exactly what she wanted to say, only that she saw something that resonated with her own life, and wanted us to understand.
I felt (and still feel, actually) a heavy sadness about the evening, the same way I do every time Schuyler faces a harsh reality. Still, I can't help but think that something really important and positive happened tonight, even if it was accidental.
That's usually how Schuyler's big moments happen. They sneak up on us, and leave us pondering them long after Schuyler has grabbed the evening's carefully chosen dolls and climbed the ladder to her bed.
I can only imagine what she dreams about. Perhaps she speaks in her dreams, as she does in mine.