I stood looking around at the pile of things (normal things, clothes, shoes–lots of shoes, and books) that represented my life for those nineteen years. As I packed to leave for my year abroad it didnt make sense to leave things behind. Then, it made sense to me to take everything. It made sense to pack pictures of a life that I had left behind, as well as a life that I was about to leave behind. She sat on my bed. She said things like “can you believe it?” I remarked that I couldn’t believe it. I could not believe how old we were getting. Looking at that vingette, I should have laughed. I could have taken all of those things out of my suitcase. I could have packed only a pair of New Balances and a credit card. I could have laughed at her and said, “We are only going to continue to get older.” But then again, hindsight is notorious for one thing only.
I packed oreos and pringles. Those things were important to me then.
I waste time saying that I do not remember being born. No one remembers being born. If someone could remember being born, I imagine it would take years of therapy to stifle the memory of gasping for air from within a mother’s birth canal. I can imagine that after months of breathing in warm liquid air, taking in a first breath of air outside the womb is the most traumatic thing that people go through, relatively speaking. The creator of the universe knows better than allow us to keep those sorts of memories. Starting your life with the inkling to end it is counter productive.
We should discuss Christmas.
He told me that it was still too early to have any serious conversations about Christmas. I already had my sharpie out. I was checking all the napkins on the table, looking for a dry-ish one.
We should go family member by family member.
Looking across the table it was clear he didn’t want to go family member by family member. I told him that it was important. I had thought about it and based on the number of gifts and the amount of time before Christmas we should decide now so that we knew how much money should be alloted, per week, to Christmas.
I thought we should also decided who we would be giving gifts to outside of family. I was going to be giving a gift to my boss, and thought maybe it would be appropriate to bake mini bundts for everyone else we worked with.
Maybe we could give your co-workers those candy canes that utilize pipe cleaners and look like reindeer.
He expressed immediate distain for pipe cleaner reindeer.
How can you not like pipe cleaner reindeer?
He liked those. It was the people he worked with that were the problem.
He started in on them, again. I pushed the cake around on my plate.
. . . and then. . . jesus. . . she makes me so mad. . . i just. . . . hate her.
Your anger seems a touch out of line.
He said it was not out of line. I had no idea how frustrating they could be. Day in and day out. I said that a lot of people in this world were really annoying, but we didnt bring them to our dinner conversation.
This girl was not just average annoying.
Okay. I’m sorry you work with her, I told him.
He had finally gotten to the nut crust on his cheesecake. I was still pushing the cake around on my plate. I was thinking that it wasn’t worth the $6.59.
What should we get your mom.
He didnt know.
I kept pushing the cake around. Our movie was still an hour and a half away.
He looked up again. Still clearly frustrated by the thought of the unbundt worthy people he worked with.
She is a buddhist who gets jealous.
I pushed my cake across the table. He could have it.
In an email correspondence regarding the up coming, though still somewhat distant holidays she remarked, “As you may remember, the children have been banned from my house on Christmas Eve (s) and I have made my last breakfast casserole.”
While interesting, the idea that a parent, one that does not partake in hallucinogens of any (known) kind, can simply announce that her children are no longer welcome to home for the holidays, it is not altogether surprising.
It was the Christmas of 1998. It could have been 2026 and the story would still be a tragedy. At the time, I was too old to be as deeply invested in the Christmas holidays as I was, but far too young (and smart) to request that people start treating me like an adult (and subsequently stop giving me gifts). I love a good gift. I love a bad gift. I love being given things.
That year she decided to eradicate the stocking.
Clearly the stocking is an altogether optional part of the Christmas holiday.
As though Jesus were optional from the manger.
It was an announcement that took us back a little. No stockings?
No. No stockings.
And then it was Egg Casserole.
Next it’s her love.
Put Jesus back in the manger.
she was standing at the sink. she was peeling potatoes. maybe she was just standing there looking out of the window. there was a bird feeder, the hummingbird kind, hanging just beyond the shadows of the window. i was sitting at the table. i was writing. maybe i was just sitting there breathing deeply. i told her i wanted to marry a european. i told her i thought that they were dark and mysterious. i had not decided which kind of european, but i knew i wanted european.
she stood there, staring, peeling. she turned her head slightly, just enough that i could watch the corners of her mouth contract with each word that she pronounced.
europeans do not believe in engagement rings. at least not the kind that you are imagining.
she turned back towards the window; satisfied that i no longer wanted to marry a european.
it has become apparent recently that the life that i currently live is as good as my life will ever be, unless i take the initiative to change it. being young, married, childless, and making very little money seems almost jovial; however the days keep passing (albeit somewhat slowly) and with each i get older. i realize now that one simply cannot order office supplies forever.
write. write so that life does not look like a windowless room with fluorescent lighting.