Monday, October 3, 2011

pancake puppies, scary roosters, and the creation of life.

yesterday, in the midst of realizing i could not, in fact, steal wifi from mcdonald’s while at denny’s eating 3 of my 6 deep-fried pancake puppies (sans syrup, bc calories should be wasted on more decadant things), i was saved (briefly) by none other than travis tritt. i sang along (or ahead, rather) in my head: “i’m a member of a kuuuntry club/kuntry muuuusic is what i looove/i drive an old ford pickup truck/do my drinkin’ from a diiiixie cup...” i like that song. i grew up on songs like that. as a kid i sang, along with my cousins, along with the grizzly-lookin singer-dude from alabama: “roll ooon eiiiighteeeen-wheeeeler, roll ooon…” and along with john anderson: “just a swaaaangin’….” and along with randy travis: “forehhhver and ehhhver, forehhver and ehhver, forehhver and ehhhhhvvverrrrr a-a-a-a-aaaamennnnn….” i like that i grew up in clarksburg. i like that i got to play in and around the big red barn (which, come to find out, turns out to be quite small as barns go) in the middle of the hilly, aluminum-fenced pasture at grandma’s with my cousin jamie, who had an affinity for hot tea with milk and sugar and for lighting things on fire with hairspray and who once tied beetlebugs from strings to the ceiling fan in grandma’s living room. one time he got a tree branch stuck up his nose; i don’t know how it happened (though unceremoniously would be my guess). another time he used the cordless phone from the barn to call his mom in the house and snarl in a low voice: “i’m watching you. i know where you are.” overall, jamie wasn’t much of a watcher. watching was too slow for him but the perfect speed for me. grandma’s little neighborhood, on top of that very steep hill in the east view section of town, was peppered with the makings of my future mental pictures…roosters and chickens and cows and horses going about their day in the field; i loved to hear the roosters crow, but they were mean as hell so i admired from afar…the cinder-block-sized salt block for the cows, with a big dip in the center where they licked…the honeysuckle vine across the street at violet’s house…the crab apple tree in mrs. what’s-her-name’s-yard on the corner…that huge, ominous, rust-flaked hook hanging from a metal pole near the corrugated steel-and-wire pigpen...the path a few hundred yards up the road where cousins would come out of the woods on horseback, horseshoes click-clacking on the pavement on the way to grandma’s big green house.

if i were still that child, i’d still love being in clarksburg...but i’m who she grew up to be, and i don’t. however, as it often goes, my disenchantment is tempered by the knowledge that i’m lucky. a lot of girlsi should refer to myself as a woman, i suppose, though unless i’m being purposely supercilious or snarky, i like “girl’ just fine… in my situation wouldn’t have parents who’d be as thrilled as mine to have their girl home again. so. i live most days in my little hometown in strange fog of gratitude and despair. which results in me being a strange, foggy version of myself. was i more me in memphis? i was. now, with the background of memphis in my foreground, i realize that while i found that city ever-so-slightly dystopian i had still created a life there…as if to remind me that’s more than a figurative statement, a little someone fluttered in my belly just now…but that story will have to ripen a little longer to tell. missing memphis is complicated; missing the me i was in memphis is not. me… i used to crank up the volume and sing — aloud, and not well — perhaps while vacuuming or with (at) my dogs, who didn’t appreciate it, if their barking was any indication. i used to enjoy my solitude on fall evenings in my house, maybe sewing or using my aunt's old costume jewelry to make gifts for birthdays or xmas. i used to make people laugh, at dinners out with jessi and ellen at café eclectic or young ave. deli or memphis pizza café, or on the deck at otherlands coffee house (before i boycotted it after the day some guy with a napoleon complex copped an attitude bc of my dog. his dogs weren’t on leash; mine was. he told me i should leave. i told him he was messing with the wrong woman...see how “woman” fits there? get it? yeah. and then the owner took his side, and i took my business elsewhere. but not before giving her the malocchio).

there have been many versions of my life, from east view to memphis to clarksburg. i like to imagine them on a timeline, with increments marked by dots and descriptions and big, glossy pictures in place for the best of times. and as i look down at the bulge that makes my belly lopsided toward the right…and wonder if it’s a head or a butt i’m patting…i know the biggest, glossiest, most perfect picture ever is to come. so i smile down at my little someone, take a swig of my now-cold decaf, and look forward to deciding what kind of cookies to bake for movie night with my cousin 5 hours, 18 minutes from now.

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