6.2002 (1)

--- i am wearing the same pants all weekend and my hair has been in this new bun situation, which i'm a fan of. yesterday i was sitting on my bed and this is what it looked like.

the point of this next story is 'cutting boards,' but we won't get to that for a bit. i've added images that aren't mine to see what that's like. maybe you'll like it. this is part one of this story.

part one

my grandmother was dying of breast cancer when S got his orders for california. i was living at her house because that's where i stayed whenever we went back home. we'd been living in murfreesboro because S had gotten out of the navy to [dumbest, most unrealistic dream ever]. this hadn't worked out, so he'd re-enlisted. while he was gone, i'd moved back home. i was always moving back home.

her diagnosis had come a couple of months earlier, about a week or two before L had been shot in the parking lot where she'd worked, twenty miles from her home and ten feet from the promise of safety. i'd called my grandmother's house to get directions to vanderbilt medical center (fancy! dramatic! being sent to vanderbilt was how you knew you'd 'made it' as a medical tragedy) and to tell my mom what my stepmother had said on the phone while oprah had talked on the tv and slade had eaten grapes on the sofa, which was that L would maybe probably not live but that maybe she would.

i'd said, "is mama there?" and my grandmother had said, "no but she's on her way i think. have you tried her cell phone?" i'd told her of course i'd tried her cell phone but that she wasn't answering it and i need directions to vanderbilt RIGHT NOW THIS MINUTE WHERE WAS SHE. and my grandmother had said, in a tone kinder than maybe anything i'd heard in my life, "is L dead, honey?"and i'd flipped the visor mirror closed and the visor itself up against the ceiling while S backed out of the parking space and i yelled, "DON'T SAY THAT TO ME SHUT UP DO NOT SAY THAT. I'LL TRY HER CELL AGAIN." and hung up while my grandmother was saying, "okay."

what i'm saying is, it was a fucked spring / summer / fall. things were fucked. they were beautiful and fucked all at the same time. this might be how all big things happen. i don't know - i'm only (almost!) thirty, so i still have a lot to figure out.

so everyone was excited that i was moving to the west coast, even my mother. my dad was afraid he'd never make it out to visit, because he was so sick and just getting sicker, but he was glad i was doing what i'd always wanted to do: leave. i'd lived in florida for few years, but this was different.

my grandmother was the proudest. she'd always loved to travel and had stayed in san diego for a few days while she and her friends waited to board a cruise ship which, i believe, had taken them south. she wanted me to get out / see the world / live a life, etc. somehow the west coast always seems like the best place to start, i guess.

between helping her sort through belongings to determine who would get what, i'd found time to gather and read the postcards that someone had sent my grandmother when they'd driven from tennessee to california thirty years earlier. i promised her that i'd do the same; that it would be like she was riding with me.

nine states, eleven rolls of film, pointless roadside attractions / slices of americana and twelve days. we had nowhere to live when we arrived, but that's what the navy lodge is for. i'd sent postcards and called from rest stops and taken an unnecessary number of cloud photos, especially in new mexico.

we were in california for less than a week when my mother called to say that my grandmother had told her, if i wanted to see her alive again, it was time for me to come home. we'd already purchased tickets before i'd left tennessee and slade and i flew back two days later.