--I HOPE YOU KNOW THAT THIS IS ALL ABOUT YOU
…Hey, Weekend, but aren’t you a pretty thing? I think you are.
…The Hugo House event on Thursday was quite fun. I got to Capital Hill early and ate at my favorite Asian place, “Boom” and sipped wine and people watched, which is an especially fun thing to do.
There are many, many interesting-looking people on Capital Hill. If you’re not interesting-looking, you stand out as a fraud and foreigner.
Anyway, at the reading I got to hear and meet some fabulous female writers as it was Ladies Night. Afterward, they opened it up for us males and I read and was probably the least nervous I’ve ever been.
I read something I’d written the day before. I hope you like it.
Nothing fell from the sky and no one got murdered. Nothing even that remotely dramatic happened, yet, one Sunday, Aunt Ginny stopped leaving her house, and wouldn’t even open the door.
At first, it was just for a few days. Then weeks. Then months. A year. More…
Aunt Ginny had been my favorite relative because she was the only woman I knew with green eyes. They looked like lime Kool-Aid with butterscotch sprockets sunk down in her irises. Even though I was a young boy, she liked to listen to anything I had to say, all of my preposterous lies about exciting events that hadn’t really happened and could never really happen to a feckless, friendless, dullard such as me.
But I was the one to fetch her groceries and dry cleaning. I was the one who would visit and tell her what the world had done, even though she had the nightly news as a resource.
I never asked her why she wouldn’t leave the house and I was not like the others who came with casseroles, inspirational quotes and Tony Robbins books, hoping these would conjure up enough latent confidence in Aunt Ginny to propel her off the porch, down the uneven paver stones of her front yard, toward the sidewalk and greater humanity.
But one day she brought up the subject. “I’m going to die here. Alone,” she said, and I told her that was impossible because I’d be by to visit.
She tousled my hair and said, “It’s not like I’m afraid of anything.”
I kept my face a blank slate.
“You don’t believe me?”
“Sure I do,” I said.
“Awe, come here and give ol’ Aunt Gin a hug,” she said, holding out her arms which had flabby meat drooping down the backs of her biceps.
I listened to her chest, as if it were a conch shell reprising sea sounds. At first, her heart muscle thudded, something dull and echoey, like a lonesome cave where noises go to die. Then there was nothing at all, just the end of things and the blunt finish of Aunt Gin.
I’m married now. There are kids, a dog, two turtles and a hamster named Getty Lee. My existence is tidy and easily explained, like heart failure, glaucoma or why coffee is so important.
I know I shouldn’t admit this, but I was in love with Aunt Ginny and I admired the hell out of her. She’d carved out a humble sphere for herself, a radius of harmony, and that was all she needed. Without telling me as much, Aunt Ginny understood that life can be fully-formed by imagination alone, and that everything else is ordinary, if not also second-rate.
It’s Date Night Tuesday, a thing our counselor suggested as a means toward reconciliation. The babysitter’s here and my wife is dolled-up and shiny as a seal, holding her phone with GPS directions to the new restaurant holding our reservation.
When my wife asks me if I’m ready to go, I feel my legs hitch and steel themselves. There’s a moment’s hesitation, but then I nod without saying a thing.