So this is a really old piece of writing. I think I was 22 when I wrote it. Who knew that a year later I would be married and shitting out little babies with their guts hanging out all over the place?!
* * *
I sat there trying to smile. She was laughing and really getting a kick out of putting muffin tins and pots and pans into the Hoosier cabinet that only one year ago she was only too desperate to try and sell in her white trash best friend’s garage sale. I felt sick hearing her tell my mom that this was finally useful now that she was living in a house with her kid, her fiancé, her future step children, and all of those damned neighborhood children that are always over. Right. She had that glazed over look in her eyes that said she was tired of life and would settle down with the first person who came around.
She asked me over her shoulder what I thought. How could I tell her that I wanted to vomit? “It looks good in that corner,” I said; tho keep in mind I could never act my way out of a paper bag. This time she turned and looked at me with this really strained smile on her face. Said something about how it did look good in the corner.
If that wasn’t enough, she ploughed right into how everything was planned for the wedding, and how upset she was at her fiancé for not setting the date, even tho it was the only task that he had to do for the wedding. Blah, blah, blah. What a fucking life.
I got up from the table in the middle of her session of bitching and walked into the living room where my nephew was playing with the family dog. Ugly fucking mutt if you ask me. Apparently my walking out of the kitchen upset my sister. My mother told me later that night on the drive home that my sister thought I had an attitude problem.
I walked over to my nephew and sat down next to him. There seemed to be something on his mind, but it is hard to get a straight answer out of a seven year old with A.D.D.
“Something on your mind babe?”
“I don’t have anything on my head.” Hmm.
“Well, what are you thinking about?”
“Oh, I’m just thinking about my Legos.”
“Yeah. What about them?”
“I just wish that I could make a big sail boat out of Legos.”
“Why is that?”
“Why are you asking me so many questions?”
“I just don’t get to see you that often, and I want to know what you are thinking.”
“Oh. I just want to build a big pirate ship out of Legos so I can ride in it.”
“That would be so much fun. Where would you go?” I asked stroking the dog’s matted fur. God that dog was fucking ugly.
“Oh, I don’t know. To wherever pirates are. Hey!” he exclaimed, his blue eyes lighting up as tho he had just had the best idea ever, “I have the best idea ever. I could come and pick you up in California and then we could go to where the pirates are!”
“That is the best idea I have ever heard. What would you bring with you?” I guess the dog sensed my loathing and suddenly bit into my wrist. “Ouch!” I yelped along with a few other words not suited for seven year old boys to hear.
My mother and sister looked into the living room from the kitchen. My mother scolded me for swearing in front of my nephew (It’s not like he hadn’t heard these words before. Fuck, our secret password for the longest time was “Fuck you, Rudy.” That is until it became not so secret when he told his preschool teacher when asked what he was doing during craft time.). His mother asked him if he had any homework that needed doing. The light in his eye faded as quickly as it had appeared, as he sulked off toward his bedroom downstairs. I got up and sulked back toward the kitchen.
“Cup of coffee?” my sister asked trying to hide the fact that she was angry for me dropping the f-bomb just when he had gotten over thinking it was the coolest word to use.
“Yeah, sure,” I huffed. I looked around the room again. It was then that I got one of the biggest shocks of my life. I realized that all women will become their mothers. As I was looking around the room, I noticed there were a bunch of twig sculptures. The ones that are supposed to look all cute and country-home-rustic in the shapes of hearts and stars, but in the end they end up collecting a lot of dust.
They hung on the walls with great care, exactly measured so they would each hang exactly nine inches apart. So their cute little country-home-rustic ribbons and raffia would not subtract from the others by hanging too close. There was also a kitchen witch hanging from the ceiling, wish bones from a turkey that was devoured months ago were drying out in a small juice cup placed above the stove, dishes piled up in the sink and a few antique Coke-a-Cola memorabilia nailed into the walls.
“Did you hire mom to come down and decorate your kitchen?” I asked, being sort of cheeky.
“This kitchen is exactly like mom’s. Even how it is laid out. You keep your dishes in the same cupboards too.”
“Just an observation.”
“I like how your kitchen is decorated,” my mother piped in as she was cutting into a lemon-poppy seed cake. My sister thanked my mother, but you could tell she was trying too hard to make it sound sincere. She, my sister, could have never acted her way out of a paper bag either. There were a few minutes of what I believed to be sort of nervous silence. Then my mother asked The Question.
“When are you going to settle down and get married? Quitchyer chasin’ allober dis country?” “Never.”
“Oh now,” she sighed. I could tell that she wanted me to settle down, quit my chasing all over the country. I could tell she really didn’t think that my older sister was ever going to get married, and if she did, that it probably wouldn’t last very long.
“I dunno ma. I’ve never really thought about that. I mean, I am still too young to get married.”
“Now don’t gimme dat. I was married for a year when I was your age. Too nyoung.” I didn’t want to continue any further into this topic. It sort of freaked me out even thinking about it. But could my silence have indicated that this discussion of when I was getting married was closed?
“I just want to have grandchildren comin’ over to keep my old bones company.”
“You have a grandchild.”
“But he is gettin’ big. I want a little baby around.”
“Tell your other kids to get busy then. I don’t want kids, not for another ten years or so.”
“Ten years! Your eggs will be all rotten by den. All of your friends are getting married n havin kids.”
“None of my friends are getting married and having kids.”
“Sure dey are. Dat girl dat played tennis. What’s her name? She is getting married. You were friends with her once.”
“Yeah, like in kindergarten.”
“And dat boy down the street, he has a wife and a kid now.”
“Poor fool. Ma, please, let’s not discuss this now. Please?”
“Well, I am just keepin’ your best interests in mind.”
I nodded and tried to make my eyes match the smile on my face.
* * *
A few hours later my mom and I said our good byes. Even though I don’t really like, understand or even relate with my sister, it still pulls at my heart strings every time I have to say good bye. Tho it is something I have never been good at, not just with her.
“Hey kid.” I said pulling my nephew into my arms. He buried his little face into my belly and then looked up at me with his sparkling blue eyes.
“Hi,” he said gloomily in return.
“What is wrong?”
“I don’t want you to go,” he half whined, half cried, snot running out of his nose. He wiped it away with the inside collar of his shirt.
“Aww, baby,” I said, kneeling and grabbing on to him like the floor was falling out from beneath my feet and he was the only thing around for support. “I have to go.”
“But why? You just got here?” The tears were running down his dirty face.
“Because your mom is driving me nuts!” I whisper and laugh a little. This makes him smile and laugh as well.
“Mom! Haha, you’re driving her nuts!” He half screams, half laughs, snot still running out of his nose. Still wiping it away on the collar of his shirt. He went dancing around the living room with open hands and wiggling fingers in the air, his eyes crossed. Apparently this is what a person who has been driven nuts looks like.
I stood up rather sheepishly and moved toward my sister. She looked at my with that tired, upset, pursed lip expression all mothers have when you have been caught. I pulled my lips in and bit them all while trying to smile. I think that it may have made the situation worse. Like me saying to her face, “Yeah, you are making me fucking insane! I need to leave your stupid little liberal college town, and quickly.”
“Be safe. Okay. Call once in a while too,” she said hugging me. My sister is a little bit taller than I so whenever we hug she really digs her shoulders into my throat and squeezes her remarkably strong arms around my rib cage. It is more like a crushing-death embrace than a hug. I try to hug her back, but my arms are sort of pinned at my sides and I can only wiggle my hands around. However, this was good enough.
“Oh, I can’t stand seeing you go,” pushing back to get a good look at me, “My baby sister!” Her eyes filled up with tears and I quickly gave her a good hug before she had a chance to wrap her steel pipes around me again.
“I love you. Your house is beautiful,” I said. I was being honest too. I did love her, not just because she was my sister, and her house was beautiful. In a nice town, no less.
The thing is, is no matter how though or desensitized I think I am getting, whenever someone starts to cry, especially someone close to me, I am all water works in a matter of moments. Before I really started bawling, I turned to the door and hurried out into the cold December night.
“Now you have to look up into da window and wave goodbye to dat little boy or else he’ll get madder ‘an Hell.”
Sure enough, I saw his little silhouette in the window, waving like mad. Mom and I turned the light on inside the cab and waved like mad too.