My Life in Fragments
Maybe you can string it together and pretend it's a post. Or at least a really funky necklace.
* * *
A Kitchen Conversation
“There are times when I've wished I was an orphan.”
Laughter from O. I smile and nod at my dad, who has just made this pronouncement.
“No, really, I mean it,” he continues. “My life would have been so much happier if I'd been left on a doorstep and never adopted. I could have grown up without parents.”
“I loved my Papa very much, but...her.” I say.
“She's a millstone around my neck. I'll be relieved when she's dead.” My dad says, then looks at me. “You need to be polite to her. I've talked to her...”
“I will be polite. But we will not go to her house. That house is a place of horror for me. I need to protect my boys from it. And I think I will have a nervous breakdown if I ever set foot in there again.”
“What are you guys talking about in there...?”
* * *
I watch through the car window, unable to read, unable to write. I've never seen so many wildflowers in the Waste of Eastern Colorado. Nebraska is an ugly girl in a beautiful green velvet dress. Every creek is full, every field thriving.
People in truck stops in Nebraska look at you funny when you have a nose ring, even if Andy is goofing on Elvis in the bathroom.
“You can't run across the floor, Jack. This is a hotel. People are sleeping below us...Not so loud. Do you hear the people above us? That's how you sound to the people on the first floor.”
“Mommy? Are we stacked up?”
* * *
Des Moines Girl looks beautiful. She's due in a month and she's absolutely gorgeous. She doesn't believe me. Her daughter is her five-year-old image and spills every secret imaginable with a smile and an innocent-wise laugh. The menu boasts, “The best shakes since 1988.” We had our first ones here in '89. I look around for a pair of familiar girls coming in for a quick meal between classes, even though they'd never believe it was us, and I wouldn't know what to tell them. Except maybe, 'Don't worry about where you're going; you're still holding each other up as you cross the ice.'
* * *
“Stop fighting or grandpa is going to get into an accident and it will be your fault!”
Please, please don't tell them that.
* * *
The Amana Amish colony in Iowa now sports a water park. I'm not kidding. The Wasserbahn. I hope you find this as funny as I do.
* * *
Five minutes after walking through the door:
“Listen to me, Jack and Declan! You listen to me. Let's get one thing clear. You leave my cats alone, do you understand me? You leave my cats ALONE!”
Who knew my dad was such a cat lover? Not me.
Five minutes after that:
I'm in the basement looking for toys to bring up to distract the boyos from the cats that have been hiding since we arrived. They're looking for toys too, completely unfazed.
I see an old manikin; a naked boy. Buster Brown. A long-ago gift from the grandmonster.
“Here you go, R. He can be your new brother. He's just like the one you have now. Now say, 'thank you grandma'.”
I realize I'm not looking for toys anymore, but scurrying like a rat in a cellar. Still, I mange not to cry in front of my sons.
* * *
“I told you father to call his mother. She'll be upset that she's not coming over tomorrow.”
“We are not going to her house.”
“Ah, well, whatever. That's up to you two. I'm out of the discussion.”
She goes into the house. No, she flounces into the house with a little fluttery laugh.
The boyos are running back and forth in the back yard laughing and looking for more lightning bugs like the one that flickered in my cupped hand, the first one they've ever seen. If I've done one thing right by them, one single thing in their lives that I've gotten right, it's that I've introduced them to lightning
Labels: bracing for the visit tomorrow, overkill/overview/over my dead body/too much information, Sy Safransky's notebook was never THIS angsty, Well the telephone is screaming/Is that my mother on the phone?