Tuesday, April 26, 2011

this way and that.

home. i haven't been there since the xmas before last. in the first few years i lived in memphis, i would go home to west virginia a few times a year. i didn't plan ahead, really. i'd decide maybe a few days in advance. sometimes i wouldn't tell my parents. i liked to surprise them. that giddy feeling would always hit me right when i saw the kovach memorials sign across from bassel street. kaiser and phaedra knew, too. they'd stick their heads out the window and start sniffing and bouncing all over the back seat. when i reached the gravel road at the bottom of my parents' hill, i'd try to drive slowly so the sound of the rocks spitting out from my tires wouldn't give me away. these trips were usually in the spring or summer. the front door would be open. and mom would come running from the kitchen, squealing, "there's my baby girl!" and dad would say "oh my gosh" and i knew i had made his day even though his voice didn't rise at all. his pitch only changes when he's laughing at himself for getting under mom's skin or when he's singing a silly made-up song. mom would squeeze me really hard and peck my face all over with kisses, and dad would make his way to the basement to make a place for the dogs to stay. it would happen that way every time.

when i got back to memphis, i would meet up with my good friend the next day. that was our routine, every time, in those first few years. we'd have dinner, usually at the deli or pizza cafe, or maybe she'd come over to my tiny guest house and we'd sit at my vintage kitchen table, smoking cigarettes and looking at her facebook, bc i didn't have one back then. before she got there i'd always tell the dogs she was coming. i thought it was cute how they'd learned to recognize her name. it would be early evening when she'd come down my sidewalk, which was lined with monkey grass all hacked up from the time i took the weedeater to it, and she'd be in old navy jeans and flip flops, with one shoulder weighed down by one of her giant purses...i always made fun of them, and she would in turn make fun of something about me...maybe the way i fuss over my hair or use safety pins to hold my clothes together...and my life at times, it seems. some friends have this way of looking at each other in caricature, seeing the parts of each other that stand out the most. that's how it was with she and i. still is, although i rarely see her anymore. she fell in love, in almost a literal sense. like she wasn't watching and fell right into a puddle of it. and i love the way she's still giddy about it, even after a year. she has since stopped smoking, but back in the days when she'd come over, i always liked to watch her cigarette hang from her lip while she used one hand to open the door and put the other against the frame to steady herself as she climbed over the baby gate. i had to put it in front of the door bc the dogs could've easily pushed through the screen. it was one of those flimsy wooden-frame screen doors that cost twenty bucks at home depot. it didn't come with the house but my landlords put it up just for me. best landlords ever. two guys, in their early forties. both pilots, a little on the preppy side, though not pejoratively so. they owned the house in front and rented it to pilots as a crashpad. i usually talked to the short one whose face was drawn in sharp angles, especially his chin. he was a smart ass who drank imported beer and had a mouth full of vulgarities...not around me, not but little bits of it here and there. and i like that in a person, so he was okay by me. i wouldn't call us friends, but if i'd see him on the front porch when i was pulling into the driveway, i might lean against the metal rail and shoot the shit for a minute. politics usually came up. he was very conservative, and although i'm not entirely un-conservative i'd still counter every point he made...at the behest of whatever quality i possess that causes me to do that sort of thing. give me a point to argue, and i will map out every possible route to every possible outcome. and he would argue right back, which was fine for fun. though it always got me thinking how i couldn't date a guy like that. or rather, why it has never worked out when i have. i like a challenge; i do not like to be challenged. the difference is subtle but significant. and then i'd think about how life was with him and his wife. i'd wonder if she humors him, the way my dad does my mom when she's going on about whatever's gotten her worked up, which is always something. i love that about my mom. pure passion, from the inside all the way out to that smoky auburn hair and those blue-hot eyes.

personalities are puzzle pieces—all shaped differently. sometimes you can shove the wrong ones together, although eventually all the other pieces displaced by that mismatching will pile up. but when the right people are in the right place, their idiosyncrasies—the things that stand out and stick out—are the very things that make them fit.

and just now, it came to mind that i've never put a puzzle together. but i know a thing or two about them. just from paying attention, i guess.

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