The news is awful lately. If they’re not talking about Martin Luther whatever Day, It’s the Haitians. It’s making my ears bleed.
My mother winced at her dinner plate. I sat in a thick silence as I reminded myself why I was where I was. Sitting a cross from the legend herself, I was on a mission of discovery. An opportunity for a thorough analysis. This weekend was a microscope lens; the organism under observation, my grandmother's wrath.
The choice of my grandmother’s conversation starters made about as much sense to me as her plaid tube top. As it wrinkled and folded her chest into its polyester confinements, it clashed relentlessly with her faux-leather vest. But all was not lost, the deep shade of magenta managed to accent the color of her bloody marry quite nicely, along with the hue of my cheeks as I blushed, embarrassed by the ignorance I had descended from.
And I said 'Tips? You're getting paid by the restaurant! You want my hard earned money too?' Cheep scam artists.
We were quite the threesome, my mother, dearest grandma and I. Myself, letting my eye brows rise and fall with every slur uttered about every minority I've been taught to respect. My mom, sipping her wine from her coffee mug, in some twisted form of denial that I might not know what shes drinking. And the saint herself, letting out every evil thought that's been birthed somewhere deep in the bowels of her corrupted mind.
But that abstruse head of hers was the reason I had agreed to this three-day weekend visit in the first place. It was not because I had taken up a sudden interest in gaudy knick-knacks. I had not acquired a new taste for lumpy milk as I watched a gourmet meal being prepared for her dog. I had not temporarily lost my sanity, deciding for a split moment that it was perfectly justifiable to keep the inside of a cabin in northern Vermont around two degrees warmer than the outside. Laying in bed, I watched my breath float up to the ceiling in clouds as I reminded myself of my original motivation.
Heating bills aren’t worth my time, and a cold house protects from mold, you know, so smarten up.
In reality, I was curious. My grandmother made her living as a live-in nurse for all of her life. She cared for cancer patients. With a career that required a heart of gold, her demeanor and reputation contradicted all that one would assume of a live-in nurse. Stories growing up between my mother and her siblings had hinted at wickedness I had grown an intense desire to witness first hand. Abandonment, abuse, absence—offenses that led to the resentment of her children that led to the isolation of her grandchildren that lead to the nagging curiosity I needed fed by these three freezing days. Where was this magnificent heart? Was I at fault for being incapable of picking up on this compassion? All I could sense was an unmistakable negativity, and she knew I could sense it, as she clicked her thick acrylics on the counter-top, but I wasn’t so sure she knew that I was aware of the pain she inflicted on my mom and aunts and uncles. Even if I hadn't heard of her wickedness, She did herself no favors.
And I looked at him, and I could just tell he was one of those, those homos, just by the way he stood there.
How on earth she could be so judgmental, after all the mistakes she had made? After all the suffering she had caused without so much as an apology? I could tell by the remarks she made she was insecure. How she sucked down those long skinny cigarettes. How every room in the house was filled with cheap clothes. How her sink filled up with celery stalks and tall red-rimmed glasses. Her mistakes had eaten her alive. She was alone in her big, cold house. And I, in my vengeful adolescent spirit, felt a kind of righteous satisfaction because of it. This was why I was here. I wanted to see the source of my mother’s tragic soul, the inspiration behind her empty wine bottles. I wanted to make sure that inspiration was in pain. I was just as bad as my grandmother.
Well I think that Michelle Obama is a floozy! I mean, just look at Tiger Woods!
--Maybe not just as bad. In fact, I scared her a little. I took comfort in that fact as she shuffled around my obvious predicaments. I was glad she couldn’t feel comfortable enough to offer support or advice, anything to widen the space between generations. I offered small hints that I was quite aware there was a battle I was fighting in my childhood, and watched them twist into her recollections of the pain she caused her children. I was evil, hanging this aged woman from her ankles and torturing her like a spiteful tyrant. I had had enough.
The air stood thick, when I finally stopped pretending to laugh along with my mother at grandma's cute little rants. Not without digression of my disgust did I excuse myself from the room and went off to bed, coughing loudly at the cigarette smoke. Satisfaction rose up inside of me as I heard the brief but substantial-and only- pause in my grandmother's complaining the entire night. My door shut loudly and her voice grew muffled, but I could make out the inquiring tone, and my mothers attempt to explain my sudden self-removal from the cheery era triplets.
Hmmm so that one has a temper on her hm? Must take after her Grandpa..
This woman would live with cancer patients, carrying them through the last of their days, while providing comfort for their families. My mother was always jealous of the love grandma showed these strangers. They thought she was a godsend, a sweet old woman with a spit-fire sense of humor. She worked and slaved for these people she didn’t know until they were gone. Maybe it was the lack of commitment. Maybe the expiration date on the receivers of her love was what made it okay for her to give it. I think that was the most flawed thought pattern my grandmother had. Beyond her homophobic, racist, cheap mindset, she couldn’t show affection if it meant long term, and in an end result, it shook her family two generations deep. I suppose she was afraid of being hurt. Her coldness was a defense tactic, within her home and her heart. I refuse to accept such a fate. No matter how many times my heart is broken, my trust taken advantage of, or my back-stabbed, I will keep my heart open and accepting. Those three days provided insight and a life goal. I am determined that loneliness will skip my generation. Read more »
I have no idea what this is, or where this is going. Any suggestions would be super helpful. Read more »
i. Watching people sleep,
I give my roaming vision pause -
settle on dewy ribs
for one full rise of breath:
I need proof they're alive.
ii. How long would I need, how many breaths -
to see your coltish body
sprawled in slumber,
fine ribs cresting faintly -
how much proof would I need
until I believed you're human?
iii. I've been close to you before,
and I know the range of your breath;
I've felt it rough and heady,
palated with urgency -
other times -
whirring with what you couldn't tell me.
iv. Show me
what you are.