Thursday, May 12, 2005

My dad blames the hospital for the death of the father that he never really liked, anyway. I’ve never been sure what actually killed him, what the specific ailment was that required a tube in his throat. It’s a touchy subject.

Going back to Florida always makes me grumpy. I just can’t figure out how to be anchored by the past without being covered over by it, how to make the happy memories weigh less than the sad ones, and the sad ones weigh less than the terrifying ones. I feel more and more like a character in a Tennessee Williams play every time I go back for a visit and I can’t walk anywhere without tripping over a million little ghosts of the same sad girl.
I am very tired of the notion that I’ve just climbed out of a box of after school specials but haven’t yet gotten far enough away that they can’t snag me and drag me back in.

My nana’s Parkinson’s seems to be gaining momentum, rolling her faster and faster back inside her own head. She didn’t really like my grandfather either. And yet there must have been a time, however brief, that she loved him enough to throw over her family and her religion for him. We can’t really say what it is that happens between two people in and out of love, the transactions and the compromises and the angry tightening of lips. I wonder often if, as she finds herself further and further down the tortured crystalline paths of her own brain, she ever thinks fondly of him—if disease is enough to overcome fourteen years of absence and all those other years of angry marriage.

Good things are coming. This weekend Cat, Caroline, and I are off to look at hot air balloons in Walla Walla. Next week Tara and I will be going to see Mike Doughty, and I’ll be getting a haircut. The Peach People’s wedding is going to be an awful lot of fun. There’s really no reason for me to be as gloomy as I get whenever I think about this trip, but the bottom line is that I hate Florida and always have.

Not too long before my grandfather died they moved him into a different part of the hospital that I couldn’t go into—you had to be fourteen, and I was only nearly eight. And there was a point where it was made known to me that he wasn’t ever going to be coming back down that elevator. I don’t remember any of what happened then, not who told me or how. All that I remember is the nurse that came down with them turning to me while she waited for the elevator to take her back up. My arms were wrapped around a stuffed koala bear that had been in his bed with him since he’d gone into the hospital, my whole upper body curled around it. The nurse bent down and took me by the shoulders, looked me straight in each of my eyes individually, and nodded. She might have spoken, but the elevator doors opened then with a chime and she stepped inside. And then the mirrored doors slid shut and I was left standing there, looking back at myself.

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