2001-08-09 - 3:14 p.m.
The moon was waxing when I drove to the airport on Saturday morning, just in time to catch my 5:25 am flight. The moon was waning when I drove home from the airport late Monday night, following me all the way. I donít know when the full moon was; I only know that I missed it, this weekend that I spent in Atlanta.* * * * *
Whenever I come home, my mom gets me a box of Entemannís chocolate chip cookies. They used to be my favorite; every Friday, when she went grocery shopping, my mom would buy a box, and weíd eat them right away, until sheíd put the box on top of the refrigerator so that weíd stop. To this day, the place for the cookies is on top of the refrigerator. Theyíre not my favorite anymore, but I donít tell my mom that. I eat them all the same.* * * * *
You picked me up from the airport, and came with me to the band reunion, even though I know you didnít really want to go; I was glad not to go alone. I knew more people there than you did, but it was funny how we kept tabs on each other throughout. Whenever I found myself trying to explain our relationship, I could see you listening out of the corner of my eye. Itís never easy to explain. Sometimes I just want to say, ďWell, weíre talking to each other now, but who knows how long that will last?Ē* * * * *
Itís not good to travel this often. You start to forget where home is, if you ever knew where it was to begin with. Your view of spatial relationships gets all fucked up; it doesnít seem so strange to be in Austin, Texas at 5:25 am and in Atlanta, Georgia at 8:55 am.
But Austin and Atlanta are worlds apart. * * * * *
I called my dad before I bought my plane ticket, to see what he was doing that weekend. Iíve never heard him that stressed out. He told me that last month, he took a Valium every day, just to make it through work. I told him that wasnít a good habit to get into. He said he wished Debi [his wife] would get a fucking job and stop living the East Cobb housewife life: get up, lunch with friends, shop. I suggested a lifestyle change might be in order, and that he should talk to Debi about it.. He said, whatís wrong with our lifestyle? We donít spend that much money. I changed the subject.* * * * *
I always wanted to go to your ten year high school reunion. Do you remember me saying that, years ago? We used to love telling people that we went to the same high school, and that we never met. You played guitar in the pit orchestra for Grease, and I worked backstage. You played with the jazz band on Thursday mornings; I used to pass by you when I put my clarinet up in the band room. Our mothers worked together. We didnít meet until college, living in the same dorm. It was strange going to the reunion, not knowing why I was going in the first place. Even your friends seemed a little freaked out by my presence, like they didnít know what to say to me. Luckily, Joe was just as nervous as I was, and weíd sneak out to the bar to smoke cigarettes; we didnít speak about you, and we didnít speak about his divorce. It was like an unspoken agreement. You looked fine, though, more self-possessed than Iím sure you ever were in high school. I knew some people there, but mostly hid out in a corner. Others asked, didnít you graduate a year behind us? I drank three whisky sours, quickly, on an empty stomach, and was nauseous the rest of the night. I kept on cutting conversations short, and running to the bathroom, although I didnít throw up once. Every once in a while, youíd look around and ask, ďHey, whereís my drunk ex-girlfriend?Ē But overall, I think it was alright. I didnít mind being there, because I thought you wanted me to be there.* * * * *
I tried to make conversation with my stepmom. She idly flipped through a catalog. I asked about Emma, and their vacation to Florida. But then I was at a loss. She doesnít work, and I refused to ask her about Junior League, which I assume takes up most of her time. Erin says she complains about how tired she is every day, but we donít know what she does that makes her so tired. Her skin has an orangish glow. She wears too much makeup, and garish jewelry. Sheís gained weight, and her chin is losing any definition. Iím sure plastic surgery is next.* * * * *
You were skinnier than I remembered. Or maybe you lost weight since I saw you last September. Wow, almost a year. Thatís a long time for us, maybe the longest stretch of time weíve ever gone without seeing each other. When I wrapped my arms around you (my hands meeting too quickly on the other side), your body felt like nothing. I felt that way inside too, at first. I didnít really want to touch you, or kiss you. But you initiated, and I thought that this might never happen again, so I didnít stop you. I donít know when I went from feeling nothing to feeling everything.* * * * *
I was worried about my dad. I was worried because Valium is a habit forming drug. I was worried because I donít think he told anyone but me. So I emailed my brother, and my sisters. My brother said I was like the canary in a coalmine, always the first to spot anything wrong. After a while, I emailed my stepmom, even though we never email each other. I told her I was worried about my dad, and that perhaps he should go to a doctor and get on some form of medication that wasnít habit forming if he needed to relax that badly. I didnít hear back from her. I thought maybe sheíd stopped checking that email account.* * * * *
Sometimes I just donít know what to say to my stepdad. Thereís always an awkward silence when my momís not around. I donít mind him, really; heís been really good lately about letting my mom and I spend quality time together. But heís not working right now; I donít know when or if heíll go back. I donít like to ask about his children. Cam is a single mother with six children who lives in subsidized housing. Sean has been in and out of jail. Sandy (the normal one) hasnít kept in touch lately. When my mom left the dinner table to go to the bathroom, he stared at me with a goofy grin and I played with my napkin, racking my brain for something, anything, to say.* * * * *
You gave me the photo album before I left. I wasnít sure I wanted it; it seemed like such a burden, and not just the weight from carrying it in my carry-on luggage. I wonder what would have happened if we had gotten double prints when we first got those pictures developed? Would we have bothered staying in touch? I remember once you emailed me asking to send you the pictures. I couldnít do it, even though they were just sitting in a box on top of my closet. You had all the negatives, so I didnít feel that bad about it. I guess it was Christmas before last that we got along, were actually talking to each other. I brought home all those pictures, and bought a photo album, and spent a whole morning typing captions and putting it all together. I was so happy to give it to you, then, and you looked so surprised. I told you we had joint custody of the album. You could keep it for now; the next time we saw each other, it would be my turn. Last Christmas, when you said you didnít want to see me, you offered to drop it by the house. I told you I didnít want it.
Now it sits on my bedroom floor. Iíve flipped through it once or twice; you look tan and thin. Iím the roundest Iíve ever been, after ten months of swilling beer and cider in London and Dublin. On the last day of that month-long trip around Europe, on the ferry crossing the English Channel, I took a pen and wrote on your hand: Sara loves Trey. Then I took a picture of your hand. I told you that I didnít know what was going to happen when we got back home, but that I loved you then, and I wanted to document that fact.* * * * *
As I was leaving, my dad asked if Iíd told my stepmom about the Valium. I said I did, because I was worried about him. He said I didnít have to do that. I said goodbye, and that I wouldnít see him before I left, and went upstairs to say goodbye to Erin. She said she loved me, and I burst into tears. She was in the middle of instant messaging her friend. Her last message was: I have to go, because my sisterís having a nervous breakdown. I told her I donít know why I get like this when Iím home. I told her I didnít know why I involved myself in everyone elseís problems. I told her I didnít know why I came back. I told her none of it was any of my business. She patted my hair and told me it was going to be okay.* * * * *
I donít know why you wanted me to come. I donít know why you wanted to see me. I thought I would be all right, but I wasnít. When you picked up your guitar and played a few chords, the tears came from nowhere, but I think they were there all the time, just waiting. I cried later, and you held me. I cried when you said you didnít see yourself with me anymore; I cried even though I agreed. I cried when I thought of last summer, and how desperate I had felt, and how distant you were, and how I refused to see it. I cried when you said you thought it might have worked out, if weíd tried. I said, which time? I cried at the airport, even though I wouldnít let you walk with me to the gate. I cried on the plane, face pressed into a pillow, sobs shaking my shoulders.
I thought Iíd stopped crying over you.* * * * *
If this is how seeing you affects me, Iím not sure staying in touch is a good idea.* * * * *
I made it home okay. You didnít call to see. There was no lingering hug at the airport, no last gaze into each otherís eyes; I think you were happy to say goodbye.