You can teach an old car new tricks. When I moved to Portland, I bought my first car: a perfect green (perfectly ugly) Rambler Rogue. I paid $1000 for a car that ran almost perfectly for years. I spoiled her faded, matronly body by plunging it into a small yellow truck in a residential intersection. [...]
She could close every comment, every argument. Last words were her specialty: last words and stage whispers. She could keep a list a mile long. She could drink scotch and laugh with the men. And with the Bitch, I was funny and glib. With her, I had a context, a ‘tude, a style. With the Bitch boa wrapped around my shoulders, nothing could hurt me. My stride was, sexy, witty, and impermeable.
In unconnected hours face-to-face, drenched in the ice-water of failed intimacy, I met loneliness–a very different thing from alone-ness. That loneliness withered my strong right-side under worm-eaten embraces, preoccupied hearts, and habitual sex.
That is certainly not something I expected when I wondered what the future would bring on the boat coming to New York. And it’s not what I imagined when Carole asked me if I wanted to move to Texas.
I couldn’t afford the way memory ransacked my heart and left an airless cell pushing against my windpipe and the corners of my eyes.
So my memories turned to cold water, rushing in through the gash the iceberg left. An iceberg—there’s a devil. How wicked to hide, a towering city of thoughtless cold beneath the water’s surface–invisible and unknowable.
When I said the word it felt like a live fish in my mouth, like I’d never heard it, never knew what it meant, like maybe I never said it before. How could that word be about me? It blasted my ear like a tumble from a front loader.
And you, Mom? You knew that loneliness at such an early age. But you’ve never complained about it, not when Grandma was sick, not when you were nursing Dad, or after he died, or when your friends started to move away to go live with their children. Even now you won’t let the word take hold in the room.
It is eight years since Carole left and we have to find her. First we have to get back to our home in Germany, but what a mess we go through. We must get across the Polish Corridor and then still so far, with everything miserable and broken. People die on the platform just waiting for the train;
She screams out ”Won’t someone please shoot this dog? Please, if I circle back around the block one more time, will you please have your gun ready and try to shoot the dog? Shoot the damn dog and don’t shoot me? Please.”
Sometimes they weigh me down, the promises duty binds upon me and the gifts I can never repay. Those days, I am haunted by history, especially the dreams stolen from young dreamers.