Monday, June 27, 2011


I shuffle the small steps down the aisle as passengers pull their luggage down. Then, the relief of getting out of the plane, walking the ramp. The herding through to baggage. I wait at the carousel. I don't have much, but still I have to wait. Then stream to customs and another line.

I'm caught between excitement and questions. My feet move by themselves. And I see the sea of people waiting for their friends or their aunts, uncles, cousins, mothers to finally arrive. I should no one of these faces.


And there he is. Sevario swims through the crowd to meet me. He wraps me in his arms, and I can almost breathe again.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Lights like wildflowers in a meadow.

It isn't my first time to a city--but it feels that way. Maybe it's because I'm usually staying in the airport, transferring from one plane to another. What's outside doesn't matter.

But tonight, amid these clouds of yellow lights, I'll get off the plane, pick up my bags, go through customs, and then?

The plane banks. I hate landings, but I hate the waiting even more.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Becky closes the door, checks to make sure it's locked, and hands the key to Mary.

This chapter closes.

And yet the wind is scudding the leaves. It's really fall, and I pick up my bags, which seem to have multiplied since I arrived.

The car doors close with a hollow thunk, and the afternoon feels empty as Becky drives to the bus stop.

We hug quickly, and I think we both might want to cry, but our eyes stay dry. All the sadness sticks in our throats.

"Come back. I mean, come to visit."

"Come see me."

"I'll see what I can do."

"I'll miss her. I mean, I'll miss you."

And I mean them both.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Now we are packing up the rest of our history here, what we don't haul out to the lawn to sell. I cross my fingers that the weather holds.

Becky keeps asking me whether I want something. And I feel bad--because I know there must be something I want to take, to keep, some reminder of this home that's going away.

"How about the lamp from the living room?" she asks. "You used to read under it--you were always hogging that chair."

"We'd have to ship it, and it might bet broken."

She attaches a tag to it.

"How about the chair?"

"I'll find something. I know it's here. I just have to wait for it."

And I have another hour before our yard sale officially opens.

The house closes in two weeks, and I haven't bought my ticket. I haven't figured out where I'm going.

"Just do the brave thing," Becky said after supper last night, and I knew she meant fly to Santiago.

"You travel more than anyone I know, and you never see anything new."

"Want to come with me?"

The words hung in the air between us, like stars that suddenly fell out of the sky and still burned a little. I hadn't thought of it until the idea dropped out of my mouth.

"I'd be a third wheel--and I can't go away."

Suddenly, the absence left by Mom swallowed us both whole.

Now the sun is making its little entrance, and we're playing our roles. With each new load carted outside, I look to see whether I've found my past.

Friday, June 17, 2011

He said he was coming. I hoped no one would buy the house before he arrived.

He said he was going to come, but he hasn't mentioned any dates, and now I'm sitting in Becky's kitchen and peeling apples while Mary holds an open house. It's the second time she's tried. No offers came in after the first one, but she's hoping more people will come to look this weekend.

I shouldn't have this knot in my stomach as I imagine people walking through the rooms. The staging part was hard enough, stripping each surface of its histories and knick-knacks, giving the house a newer, cleaner fictional family. Each subtraction hurt a little more, and I kept waiting to numb up. We hauled the boxes of what we couldn't bear to throw away over to Becky's, where they sit stacked in half the basement.

I shouldn't feel rushed as I walk home. I stop for the mail. A few sale flyers and one envelope.

Dear Misha,

It turns out that I'm not going to be able to come.

I don't really read the rest.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The toast feels dry in my hand, in my mouth, as I watch Mary Evans pound the For Sale sign in to the lawn at the end of the drive. I've lost without really knowing why I was fighting. But it could take a long time for someone to buy this little house in this little town.

For about five seconds I wished I had the money--I'd only need enough to buy out Becky. It was laughable--a woman with no job, no savings to speak of. A mortgage? And that's when I had to face the fact that I don't want to stay here forever, or even a decade.

I want this South Bend sky and the rusty animals up the road in Raymond and the real gulls crying and the dank salt brine mud smell and the watery bright sunlight--and I want the ghosts of my mother and, so long ago, my dad, each chair they sat in, each thing they touched. Someone wise would tell me that I'll carry all of that inside me. But I've wanted time to soak it up, to be sure.

Mary turns and smiles as she walks toward the porch.

"We can have an open house this weekend. We don't want to let it sit out here too long," she ventures.

I nod.

"Do you think it will go quickly?"

Mary fades a shade or two.

"You never know."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sevario's voice sounds far away. It is far away--even farther than it sounds.

"You aren't traveling today."

"You knew that. You called me here."

"You can still stop in Santiago on your way down."

He's right. I'll probably have to change planes there anyway. I haven't even thought about a ticket. Maybe we'll need to sell the house first. Money's the elephant in the room, the elephant that never forgets and never leaves.

I promise to look into flights, hedge around the fact that I'm not ready to go yet.

I don't know what's pinning me to this sky, these tide flats, my old room in my old house--it's a longing or a loss deeper than I want to name or even think about.

I promise again. I tell him I'll let him know by the end of the month.

Given how long mail takes to travel, that doesn't give me a lot of time.

I hang up the phone and see a letter from Henry on the table, a letter from last week. He says he'll come see me here.

But when? How long can I wait? And what am I waiting for?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's the equinox. Autumnal--and yet the world around me has been dying for a long time. The grasses are brown. The garden has already seen its best days. Seed pods on everything--a sign of new life, next year's life, but right now it just looks desiccated, undone.

I pour myself a glass of wine and go back to the porch. The weight of this season presses my chest for what might be forever. I sound like a melodrama, without a villain, no one in a black hat to hiss at.

Far away, the phone jangles. Probably Becky. I think she's tired of coming over here to chat. I think she's tired of me. Or I depress her. Maybe I'm the villain. Hissssssss.

As heavy as Sisyphus's stone, I get up to answer the ringing.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My coffee mug feels warm in my hands as I watch the wind blow the September sky blue. Inside, I still feel chilled, or empty. I swing back and forth. We're all walking around in a state of shock, but I'm not even walking much. I sit on the porch and watch the weather. I feel anchored to this home.

Becky and Mark think we should put the house up on the market. It's a good time of year. I ask about probate, knowing nothing about it really.

"Misha, there isn' t enough money in the estate to trigger probate," Mark explains. I try to remind myself that he isn't being condescending. We're all a little on edge.

Selling the house makes sense. I certainly need the money, and Becky and Mark could probably use it.

"Can I just stay here for a while?"

I'm stalling. And I guess that Becky's pulled in different directions. She's probably wondering why I'm hunkering down here now, when I haven't been around for so long, why I'm holding up this final bit of business, and yet I don't think she's ready to lose her home, her past.

Gulls wheel, ride the drafts. I feel safe here. I need to feel safe here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

From here, the clean sheets look prim and impersonal. Like a big sign saying Empty or Gone. Becky sticks her head in the door.

"They're starting to arrive. You need to come down."

It's true I haven't been much help. I've been hiding in here while Becky's scrubbed and dusted and vacuumed, getting the house ready for the gathering after the service.

This has happened too quickly. Mother slipped away the first night home. Then finding the plans she'd written down and setting all of that in motion and talking about the service and the service on this oddly sunny day. The words Reverend Bigelow said still float in the air in front of me.

I walk downstairs to greet this new life.

The living room is full of dahlias and gladiolas, chrysanthemums in a tasteful palette. Mom didn't want flowers, but we were slow getting the word out. It's too much, and it's what we can do.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

She is leaving the hospital.

She is leaving us. I want to sit in the back seat and hold her, but we rig up a way for her to be more comfortable, and there isn't room up there.

Becky looks like a blown egg, all shell and air--and that's exactly how I feel.

Mom's breath sounds heavy. She dozes, but we don't talk in case that would wake her. And then there's the fear that she doesn't wake up, that she slips away before we can get her home.

I tell myself we should have known. The statistics were never good for this disease. But that doesn't change this gaping yawn inside of me, inside of us.

More road, and more road, and then the night.