Monday, June 16, 2003

So I spent Father's Day with my dad and grandpa here, where I'm spending the night, in good old Kinsman, Ohio. It was a good day, all in all. My mom made us dinner and we watched Minority Report and then walked down to my grandparent's, where we chatted on the front porch, and then my grandma and I and my nephew and niece strolled around the perimeter of the old farm, pointing out old memories that only she and I could see. My nephew and niece weren't there to know what we were talking about most of the time, and yet it disturbed me that they didn't know where we buried our two family dogs, or where I used to watch ladybugs crawling up and down the trunk of this particular maple tree, or how there was a bullfrog that was under the footbridge that runs over the creek who came back every summer. Things like that. I mean, rationally I wasn't disturbed. It was more an emotional disturbance, like a map of my past had somehow disappeared because they didn't know it.

Then my mom and I drove to the cemetery to visit my other set of grandparents, her parents. We weeded around their headstone and I visited a friend's grave who had died right out of highschool. I'd dated his sister briefly, and I sometimes still worry about her, because she was the sort of girl who is so painfully intelligent and emotionally complex that I just know she carries around his death in her hands every day, something she just can't put down for a more than a few minutes. Or maybe that's just something I do, and I'm projecting that quality onto her.

Afterwards, my mom and I drove around town. I come out to visit my folks in short bursts, and rarely stay overnight any longer, but I did this time, so we had more time to do things together. My mom drove me around, pointing out houses and places, like my grandma and I had done around the farm, recollecting memories and updating me on where and what everyone in town had ended up and was doing now, good or bad, funny or tragic. My mom has the scoop when it comes to small town gossip. She wouldn't call it gossip, and in truth, she's sincere when she calls it concern. She knows something is wrong with this girl I've known since kindergarten, who is back home and living with her mother. This girl was beautiful and so shy, as long as I've known her. Now my mother says she's, um, rather large, and that she won't come out of her mother's house, and whenever anyone asks her mother how the girl is doing, the mother tenses up and says fine, or else changes the subject. I told my mother, "Well, if something is wrong, then maybe they just want to deal with it themselves, to keep it their business," and my mother said, "Well, yes, I understand that, but if there was something we could do to help." My mother, like all good country people, often speaks in the plural first person.

So we drove around like that for quite a while, and finally came home and watched Billy Eliot with my father. Jackie had been getting on me to watch that movie for a long time, and we finally watched it the other night. She said she thinks of me when she watches Billy Eliot, only replace the dancing with writing. I say, it loses all its charm once you do that, but I love the sentiment.

And here I am, up late, needing to sleep now, but my brain is still bubbling with old memories, each one coming to the surface with something new that's old. Right now I'm remembering how I came home from school for a Christmas visit--this was probably my second year of college--after I'd taken a class on the early twentieth century English novel, and told my mother I was going to "draw" a bath, and how she laughed and laughed and laughed at me until she cried. I stood in the living room and was completely clueless as to what I'd said that was so funny. But when she finally calmed down enough, she looked at me and said, "Draw?? You're going to draw yourself a bath?? You talk so strange now! It's just so, well, funny!"

Sometimes I think I need to spend more time out here.


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