Winning Is Many Things

The Paris Review #165 (Spring 2003)Now began the part of her life where she was just very beautiful. Except for nothing. Only winners will know what this feels like. Have you ever wanted something very badly and then gotten it? Then you know that winning is many things, but it is never the thing you thought it would be. Poor people who win the lottery do not become rich people. They become poor people who won the lottery. She was a very beautiful person who was missing something very ugly. Her winnings were the absence of something, and this quality hung around her. There was so much potential in the imagined removal of the birthmark, any fool on the bus could play the game of guessing how perfect she would look without it. Now there was not this game to play, there was just a spent feeling. And she was not an idiot, she could sense it. In the first few months after the surgery she received many compliments, but they were always coupled with confusion.

~ Miranda July, from "Birthmark," The Paris Review #165 (Spring 2003)