Wednesday, December 20, 2017
            Home looks different from the rear view mirror, the familiar curve of the road twisted like the grin of the Cheshire cat, the letters of the water tower reflected and contorted, almost demonic, in the light of the early morning. Hands on the wheel of your Dad’s old chevy, eyes ahead, you can’t look behind you, so you glance into the mirror; the scurry of your own eyes is unnerving. White letters on green signs are blurred into insignificance as you drive ahead and then you glance back and the green is now a cold, metallic gray. It reminds you that you’re leaving home with every trace of you, every hair that has ever fallen from your head swept into a neat pile, thrown away, forgotten—they always did try to put you in boxes.
           Everything is different, nothing’s the same. You’re headed to Nashville where you last heard that I was, working double shifts at a beer shack on the rough side of town. You imagine me smiling as I rest my elbows on the bar top and listen to the tales of the follies of drunk men. You can see me tying loose blonde curls—just like yours—in a knot on top of my head. In your mind, I’m wearing the t-shirt I had on when you last saw me, the one I bought in Wyoming when I was pregnant with you, with the sunset and the buffalo. In your mind, my eyes still dance with the wind and turn green in the sunlight.
            You drive all day and night, pull your truck to the side of I-26 and hang a towel over the window. You can’t afford even a night’s stay at the nearest motel six because you only have $23.50 to your name. Everything else you blew for a gift you think I’ll like: a limited-edition Victrola record player, so limited edition that the vendor said that’s a real turn table, miss, and don’t you forget it. It’s sitting in the back seat with a dingy white sheet pulled over it. Each time your almost drift to sleep, you’re jerked awake with the fear that someone’s stolen it.
            The next day’s drive should only take two hours, but your legs are stiff from driving too much and your neck feels crooked from sleep with your head leaned against the driver’s window. So you pull into the slow lane, arrive in Nashville later than planned, and don’t have time to change into the new dress and tights you bought last week. You’re an hour late, and this is a slap in the face from fate or destiny or God or whichever higher power you’re choosing to believe this week. It’s a slap in the face because the hour you arrive is the hour I’m jumping in a taxi to catch a plane to Oregon—I’ve always dreamt of owning a Volkswagen Beetle and driving it around the streets of Portland, working in a coffee shop incased in pine forests instead of a dank bar with old men.
            So as you’re looking for free parking for you truck on the rough side of Nashville, I’m turning my pocketbook upside down outside the terminal gate, rummaging through its contents for the boarding pass. I pick up each item one by one and put it back inside, turning it over again. And as I’m turning it over for the third time I realize that I left the boarding pass behind the counter of the dank bar I swore I’d never again set foot in.
            The cabbie lets me out behind your parked truck, just as shiny and blue as when your dad drove it ten years ago. You’re standing in front of the door of the bar, staring at the fake I.D. you bought last year. At this point you’ve lost all faith in everything—I can tell, because it hasn’t been too long since I’ve felt the same. So I nudge you. May I help you? You turn your head and see my dyed-brunette curls bounce. They’re cut off at my shoulders, and I’m wearing the sort of sun dress that no one would want to be caught dead in where you come from. But you look me in the eyes—ours are the same, gray and tired—and see that I’m dripping in sweat, a nervous twitch neither of us can seem to shake. And there in the middle of a sidewalk covered in cigarette butts you feel known for the very first time. And you know who I am, I can tell, but you don’t say so. Instead you shrug sheepishly, flash your I.D. towards me; this is fake, I was going to use it but now I don’t think I will.
            I smile, and when I walk into the bar the musty smell of boiled peanuts and sunset rum hits me like a ton of bricks and I am floored. My feet are glued to the ground and I can’t blink because tears are falling down my face. I don’t want to leave, I realize, and I like this dank and musty bar because it reminds me of home. I’ve never possessed the same voracious courage as you do, the willingness to stuff your world into a carry-on bag and start all over. I like home, I need home, but you’ve always been a wanderer. So when the boss pulls the boarding pass out of his apron pocket and thrusts it at me—you forgot this—I pivot and run outside to find your feet planted firmly on the sidewalk where they were before. One-way ticket to Seattle, if you leave now you can make it. You smile, take the ticket, and I turn to leave so you can’t see the tears on my face but you scream wait. You’re pulling a white dingy sheet off an old Victrola limited-edition turn table, sliding it from the truck seat onto your shaking arms, holding it out to me: a penny for your troubles, ma’am. Our eyes meet one last time and I know that you know and you know that I know that you know, so you smile again, breathe thank you and climb into your truck.

            You’re on your way to Seattle now, where I hope there’s a dream waiting to pick you up and give you wings. You’re probably sitting next to a middle-aged man with too much body hair or body odor but you don’t care. And I wouldn’t know, but I’m willing to bet that home looks different, looks better, from thirty-thousand feet in the air.

Plane ticket





  2. I HAVE NO WORDS <333 your writing is just WOW

  3. WOW. y do ur words always floor me. You are SO talented.

  4. AHHH!! love this piece so much


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