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Not me, her

In 1987, I found myself trying to write about a high school girlfriend that had been molested by her father when she was a child. I was 19 years old, struggling to find my way through a screenwriting assignment about delivering character. The idea was to describe messy young love between two Sid and Nancy want-to-be's. But that failed, as I could not stomach oversimplifying her complicated past, events that shaped her life as a 16 year old with a mohawk, a smart mouth, a lingering stare. I understood that I had to start at the very beginning.

No one wanted to hear the story. When it was my turn to read in class, it even came to be that some of the other students asked to stand in the hallway before they heard another description of what happened in that lonely little house in the middle of nowhere. I was trying, and failing, and trying again to get things right, to explain how this happened, how it could happen to this girl, how this man found his way to acts of selfishness and d…

God moves on the water

Waiting for the other shoe to drop feels like a mantra for living here. There is no question if it will happen, only when the situation will become complete, realized, official. There has been snow, freezing wind coming up from the river and then the cool wet sidewalk returns. We are waiting for the ground to grow hard, the grey sooty piles of snow to hedge in on cars and sidewalks, giant sleeping hulks that go nowhere. The other shoe is not dropping, slapping into quicksand instead, dropping loose into a vacuum where the floorboards should be. 

It is maddening. 


The shopping center opposite that makeshift memorial caught on fire early one morning. It was not the first time I saw a sign somehow engulfed in flames here. The streets were full of camera crews, and a stream of water churned from the parking garage entrance. I had eggs and milk and coffee slung across my shoulder, and could not see if there was a way to pass everyone. I stood right on the spot where the blood and roses caught my attention. It felt like a nexus, a tight spiral of coincidence but without any meaning I could unravel. 

I smelled burning plastic, as clouds choked the dark morning sky. 



A whole turkey was found at rinok, the same as last year. I carried it proudly, heavy as a bag of cinder blocks. The holiday means nothing here, just a random thursday to most. I took E home from school as soon as classes ended. We cracked eggs and tore bread into tiny pieces for the stuffing. She tried to peel some carrots but it was still too hard for her tiny hands. She tasted the cranberry sauce that had been bubbling on the stove for some hours and pronounced it was just sour enough. I steamed pumpkin with fresh grated ginger, stirring and softening and reducing it to a baby-food mush before it became part of the pie. 
"I am making a thankful toast this year." She announced at one point. 
I kissed the top of her head. 

N came home with red cheeks, stalking into the kitchen to nibble the corners of whatever was cooked already, her face a series of approvals. She set the table, put out the good candlesticks, washed the pots and pans I was done with. 
"Put some music on." E said in a big voice.
I put on Charlie Parr for some reason, his version of God Moves on the Water
"This is about the Titanic." I tell E. 
"I know Pop." She says, rolling her eyes. "You already told me."

          A.G. Smith, mighty man
          built a boat that he couldn't understand
          Named it a name of God in a tin, without a "c"
          Lord, he pulled it in
          God moves 
          God moves
          and the people had to run and pray








Comments

liv said…
Gosh, it seems like it was just winter there a couple of months ago. In a sense - it must always feel like winter there.

Turkey, cranberries, music and loved ones - sounds good. Be warm, all.

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