April 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Photo by Flickr user Patxi Izkue [cc]
Keep a record of your travels, little pieces of where you’ve been. Advice from my father the night before I headed out on my first road trip. The first trip without parental oversight. The night before I cut my way up the coast, the long and winding route that toyed with cliffs and precipices, the thought of which scared the living daylights (his frequent refrain) out of my father who bravely played the role of scaredy-cat in the family.
His easily frightened personality led to his reciting safety tips, precautionary couplets for any and all situations, dangerous or just potentially. Buckle your seatbelt before engaging the engine—mirror signal blindspot, in that order—wear a helmet and be sure the strap’s tight—look both ways before entering an intersection—the road’s at its most slippery right after rain.
I was raised on a gospel of what ifs and better safe than sorrys.
But now that he was about to let me off his leash, his usual almanac of accident-avoiding adages included a list of things I should tuck away rather than trash.
Receipts from gas fill-ups. A half torn ticket from a movie entrance. Your to-dos from the day.
Paste them into a notebook and that day will rattle around in your conciousness much longer.
Phone numbers scribbled out onto motel stationary.
In twenty years that day will be gone, but that burnt out matchbook you would’ve normally tossed will still remain.
That take-out menu will be that day. When do your days ever leave behind something tangible? Your birthday comes to mind. I watched you pushed out into the world. I remember that day like I was still living it.
I assured him I would with, sure. But he knew better. He knew when I was blowing him off.
It’s as close as you’re gonna get to living forever, he said.
I’m fine living just as long as I’m going to.
He rubbed his face, from temple to chin. You’re gonna be the death of me.
July 30, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Everyone around me knows I’m in trouble. Trouble is I don’t know it yet. That only adds to the trouble I’m in. The people around me not only know it, they smell it. Felonious acts slick on my skin. Slippery I ain’t, else I wouldn’t be in this deep water.
I subscribe to the notion that you’re not guilty unless you get caught. And catch me they did. But even with such belief on my part, I refuse to fold. I doubt guilt will ever catch up with me. I blame it on my mother. She never spent one minute feeling guilty about anything. Not the fact that she didn’t provide me with a father. Not the fact that she didn’t provide me with a sister. Not the fact that she provided me with little else than a mattress to sleep on, shoes only after my toes had torn through previous pairs, and a carousel of men in and out of the house for various lengths of time and at varying intervals.
It was these fissures that sent me on my flight. Destination unknown, at least at the time of my departure. I hoofed it right out of Dodge.
Had I left behind evidence that evidence would’ve dragged me right back. I needed to be gone without a trace. He was the first to go. That last one. Not before I made him school me in how he got that plane of his off the ground and back again. I made him believe I enjoyed where he put his hands. I made him believe it was about us, but every word out of my mouth was a lie. Like every thing that fell from his.
Mother was next. They apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, so I felt nothing. No love lost. My way, yes. Even with the maps. Those they let me keep. Those are what keep me up at night. Lines of longitude and latitude define and redefine my altitude.