Thursday, March 03, 2011

the more they change

The thing you have to understand about my parents is this; at some things, they were very, very, good. And at some things, they were very bad.

At certain moments around my family everything crumbles. We are laughing and joking and I feel the frantic eruption inside; invisible, I am desperate for someone to see me. We all hoist this buoyant mood, puffing at it like a balloon we can't let near the ground; this is our shield. If it drops--we don't talk or think about that. Keep puffing.

I become crass and obnoxiously loud. Someone, someone, someone someone someone look. Believe me. Justify my existence. With strangers, you can think someday they might understand; not so here. If the charade breaks, I will not be safe; in this place I am not real, not a person. At best collateral damage.

I used to read stories of escape and survival; my side of the mountain, the girl who owned a city, every apocalypse yarn. Now I read about monsters.

What we all might do, to be seen.

When we hid out behind the risers at the high school

Working bitter calculations with a slide rule

The grim particulars of poisoning the swimming pool

The way you looked me in the eye,

ready to die.

We were becoming what we are

Collapsing stars

When we chewed up children's Tylenol like bubblegum

Till our hearts were beating deep and rich as kettle drums

We knew if we waited long enough the change would come

And then the day did come, and at last

Hold tight

Hold fast

Catch lightning in a jar

collapsing stars

Told you to load up on provisions

We wouldn't be back for a while

Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag

Turn toward the camera and smile, smile, smile

When we ditched the plan to poison all our enemies

Tucked our weapons in a clearing, and covered them with leaves

We are gonna come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaths one day

Well we are on our way

You can look

But you won't find

Another love like ours

Collapsing stars

-the mountain goats

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

growing up

Awhile back, someone I knew and liked come to look at taking a room in my house. Someone I respected, though it feels silly to admit, because she was such a fabulous writer. I was accommodating--overly accommodating, Willie-Loman desperate. . . I could see it, but couldn't stop. She called a few weeks later and said that though she could, but she just thought she was looking for, exact words, "something a little more grown-up."

I was offended, but couldn't help but try and figure out what she'd meant. At twenty four, I wasn't young for the grad student housing market. And maybe Trisha and I weren't particularly domestic, but we weren't immature; after all, I thought, what could be more grown-up than holding down a job (or two, or three) and making your way in the world?

Then it occurred to me that I'd owned, and lived in, a house with wall to wall carpets for six months, but hadn't yet purchased a vacuum cleaner. I have no idea if that's what she was talking about, but I couldn't be angry after that.

Almost from the start I knew owning a house would force me to grow a lot. One of the most important lessons is that no one else is going to buy the vacuum cleaner. It's funny sometimes how one grows into these things.