Drive in to the meeting, game on. New place. Hard to park. Small turnout, the usual suspects, carded at the bar and a Guinness for me.
No point to the meeting. No point. The boys and I sitting around. Me trying not to mind the drive in for nothing. The boys talking about nothing. Mike Wallace. Renter’s market.
Turn to nostalgia: children’s shows, coal fires. Matt wanting to go back in time. Seven kids, two parents, coal fire and fresh fruit scones. Better then. So I try and I can’t think of a time I would want to go back to. Can’t think of a time that is better than this.
Wait at the bar, game over. I don’t know Brighton. One-way streets, no choices, cop behind me. Just keep going. I don’t know the streets. Don’t know Brighton. Keep going. Drive until things look familiar, kind of, tracks down the road and finally a sign. Beacon Street through Brookline past Coolidge Corner. Beacon Street into the heart of the monster.
Asshole fans in their SUV’s and I am too tired. Trying to think of a time. Wood stove, three kids curled up in front. Mom with her hand through the glass door. Robert crying every day, running away just out of sight. Asshole fans cutting me off and blocking the roads and honking.
Try a side street to get away, it’s blocked by fans clogging intersections. Turn around. Run away. Back up Beacon to North Harvard. Middle school. Drinking and lying and trying to get away, friends’ parents dying of heroin overdoses and men grabbing my breasts. Jane yelling at my mother and making me diet. Dad getting sick and us starting to know it.
Down North Harvard, into Allston. Familiar places all the way. Road work on the bridge , Storrow Drive instead. High School. Galen dying. Willie killing himself. Stephen dying. Always thinking someone would die and not really being far off. Restraining order and running away and looking out at the ocean crying. Staying up at friends’ houses after everyone was asleep and looking out the window. Crying. Trying to make it.
Storrow Drive down to one lane and the assholes join in. So tired my eyes are drooping when it dawns on me: I have never been happier than I am now. I love my husband. I love my baby. I don’t think anyone I love is dying. I am responsible for myself. I like my life.
Me in every period before this exploding with joy. Beaming. Me trying so hard to be happy. And now I wake up and Abigail kisses me. I don't have to do a thing. I don't have to try.
Route 1 and I am tired and hungry and thinking of course about what must be wrong. Something must always be wrong. And the saddest thing I realize is people dying unhappy. Not just sad but so far gone there is no joy. My mother. I want her to be happy. I don't want anything else for her or from her. Just to be happy. She used to beam and laugh and be happy but it's been months since I heard her cackle. And then the other saddest thing. The people I love hurt eachother.
Nearly crying now thinking of how much someone I love has hurt people. I need to stop. I need to get something to keep me awake and keep me going mind's on grand mal seizures and hospital rooms and stories not believed and whole histories being dismissed.
Drive-Thru. 24 hours. Pull over, search for change. Get to the menu and I just want something to drink but late night, limited menu. The woman doesn't understand me and I don't understand her and because I can't figure out how to get just a drink I end up with a meal.
Back on the road caffeine and fries and I really have been happy for most of my life. But I don't want to go back. Local boy, grown man now, arrested last week trying to get back to before his brother died, spray-painting mailboxes to remember. I don't want to go back. Past the malls empty lots flashing lights on the south-bound side. I was happy then. I did happy things.
Awake now, mind racing, burger uneaten. Home to sports radio left on downstairs. Hoping someone is awake for me to see for me to say I love you. I am happy. But they are upstairs asleep and my mind is racing. Each of these things so full so good and bad like swabbing my father's mouth as he died. There is comfort in everything.
These are the things I did. These are the things I remember. Tomorrow is trash day and I don't want to bring it all out tonight. I should go to sleep if I want to get it done before the truck comes tomorrow. When I was in young I would sit on the rock barely peeping through the part of our yard near the street and wait for the trashmen to come. I still love the sound of their trucks.