Losing them, fixing them, forgetting to put them in
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I learned how to be a man by modeling the behavior of my father, and then other men. What I don’t know is how my son has modeled me, and that’s creating a commotion in my heart.
My chest, which was beginning to grow round in the wrong places, had to be hidden under a T-shirt no matter how hot or sweaty I became. Out in the desert I had to squat behind the cover of creosote bushes to pee. At home in my family’s Airstream I was my parents’ youngest daughter, but up in the paloverde I felt like one of the boys.
We divided ourselves up until the teams were formed correctly, evenly. In other words, until the white kids were satisfied. No one had declared them the leaders, but, like most enduring traditions, the rule had become quietly understood, rooted in our fledgling muscles and minds.
My husband had been sick long enough, a string of years, that I’d begun to think of his diagnosis as a rumor. He was interminably terminally ill. Until he wasn’t.
The desire to hang on to youth for as long as one could — to see that as greed was new to me, and the idea had deep implications for how I saw myself.
We all need to accept that the world at large is indifferent to our existence. Most of our decisions matter only to us. I could drink tonight, and no one would know.
A glistening white steamship, launched in 1924, with an old-fashioned straight-up-and-down bow and tall single funnel from which billowed thick black smoke, it was, like my mother, an unapologetic citizen from a different time.
You never grew tired of watching her work. You loved the hum of the machine, the sawdust that stuck to her sleeve, and how she bent her head over the wood like something swan. You knew she was sharing something intimate with you. You were witnessing prayer.
I leave with my sunglasses on, waving my hand. Sometimes you call my name, your voice a taut string, and I think Michael might snap in half. But it’s strong — a tether.
“Home improvement” always entails physically fixing up one’s house. But what about the emotional work of homeownership? One way to improve your home is through gratitude and acceptance. Does everything constantly need to be “fixed”?