Thursday, June 01, 2006

(un)flexible dates

I just bought a plane ticket for my favorite teacher at Sarah Lawrence (also my thesis advisor and an astounding travel writer) to visit me and Robert in Paris for a weekend in July. She will already be in Prague teaching so the ticket wasn't much, two hundred dollars, and I know that we'll have a great time. The only reason I hesitated to do it sooner was because I don't even have my own ticket yet. What I have is a ticket from Nashville to New York on June 14th, returning to Tennessee sometime in October. But given that I don't have an apartment in New York anymore (hello, Storage USA?) the chances of my staying there seem really slim. Also considering that it's the first day of June and I started sweating outside before the sun came up, I think it's even more unlikely that I'll be here to welcome July. And August.

I have this tiny two-year-old cousin, Meredith, who I saw last weekend. She has white-white-blonde hair and she's very, very shy (one of those who are more comfortable in public behind her mother's leg than anywhere else). The only things I heard her say for two days were, "Achoo!" and "Oh no!" (The latter of those she said over and over again whenever anyone other than her mother got too close.) My grandmother looked at her the way someone who was starving would look at a country ham. She started out saying things like, "Meredith, let me hold you on my lap" and ended up, moon-eyed and desperate, saying, "Oh, I do hope you know who I am."

Plus my grandmother has started keeping butcher knives in all of the rooms that don't have doors leading directly outside. This is, she explains, in case the house is on fire and she can't push out the screen windows, she can use a knife to cut out the screens and then jump.

Meanwhile, not totally unrelated to the fear of getting old, my father is buying a motorcycle. He got his new license the same day my cousin William got his first driver's license. (By the way, I found out on Monday, apparently William is engaged-to-be-engaged to his model girlfriend. They have exchanged real wedding rings and he's getting a tattoo of a cross that she stayed up "until one in the morning for three nights" drawing. They're seventeen. Maybe I can be in charge of the guestbook?) Okay, so my father and his motorcyle. Every time he mentions it, my mother starts flapping her arms and threatening to join the circus.

But over the weekend, my dad told me outright that he thinks instead of getting old and hanging on until the age of 99 (like his grandmother), it would be better to go out in a motorcycle crash. I said, "Is this your mid-life crisis way of saying you won't live through a death of quiet desperation?" But then my grandmother came into the kitchen wondering how many years it's safe to keep chicken in the freezer before it goes bad. Specifically, she wanted to know, is five years too long?

Yes, we both said. And my dad's face read, "I think 95 might be the perfect age to get a motorcycle."

I haven't spoken to Robert since Monday, he's in Japan, and yesterday he left a message that said, "I'm working like a dog, I'm not avoiding you." For three nights in a row, I've had dreams about this other guy I know but haven't seen in almost a year. For three nights in a row, we've been walking along the river on the west side of Manhattan pushing a baby stroller and holding hands. Yes, I agree, it's unclear how two people can push a stroller and hold hands (and kiss!) at the same time, but while it's happening, it doesn't seem awkward at all. And then I wake up and write it down, wonder where we were going and what happened with that guy, if he ever wakes up from dreams about me, and what time is it in Tokyo?


Blogger camille remarkable said...

I just got your message, my sweet sweetums.
Please say that you are writing the great American novel now.
Don't let your domestic dreams steal all your talent from this world.
Will call you soon.

6:31 PM  

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