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Location: California

I love paper. Books printed on acid-free paper and bound in cloth turn me on. I'm crazy about bookmarks, and I buy too many stickers. I could spend hours in the build-your-own-greeting card section of my neighborhood craft store. My favorite thing to eat is bread, and my second favorite is fruit. (Mm, pineapple.) I read too much and too fast, and I watch too many food shows (two ways of looking at gluttony). Gloomy, rainy weather calms me and so I can't wait to move out of California, which will happen, sadly, too many years from now to count. I'm vegan, though I haven't managed to eliminate honey from my diet yet. I practice yoga; it's the only way I can keep fit. I have a better life than I ever imagined I would (or deserve to) have, but I do my best to enjoy it rather than feel guilty about it. That's my daily struggle -- and also to be thoughtful and observant and honest with myself.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Messenger

The telephone stand was in the hallway, between the kitchen and living room door. It was rickety; its three plywood shelves slipped out of their grooves. A dog-eared telephone book sat on the middle shelf, precariously balanced. The phone sat on the top shelf, a cream-colored rotary. The bottom shelf was empty. I tapped it with my bare toes.

I'd stopped by the telephone stand on my way to the living room. I had a letter in my hand. The letter was from my mother to my father. The two of them had had an argument and weren't speaking. My mother had shut herself in the kitchen and was scrubbing the sink, the stove, the door of the refrigerator, going from one to the other with a wet dishcloth that she forgot to rinse. My father sat in an armchair in the living room, reading. My mother had handed me the letter for him without a word. There wasn't a name on the envelope but I knew who it was for.

I felt important to them in a way I'd never felt before. I felt not only that they loved me but that they needed me, that I was essential, vital to their relationship, a bridge between them. I stopped by the telephone stand to bask in this new sense of my worth. Then I went into the living room. My father lifted his eyes from his book, took the letter, read it, returned it to me. He said, staring down at his book, "Tell your mother I've got nothing to say."

Heart sinking, I delivered the message. I went back and forth between the kitchen and living room, transporting words that I only half understood. My parents ended up talking again, shouting at each other over my head in the hallway, by the telephone stand, while I tried to work out in my muddled head who was right, and to find the words that would express it in a way that stopped their argument.

There was nothing I could say, of course. But I got sucked back into being a messenger many times after that; I imagined I could make peace between my parents, and that was an intoxicating, irresistible prospect. It tempts me even now, when I've outgrown the naivety of childhood, when I'm married myself and know that peace in your family cannot be given only earned.

1 Comments:

Blogger madness rivera said...

I love this imagery; green whale in the middle.

C, are you going Thursday night? Yo, email me, mamirivera1@yahoo.com, so I have your email too.

January 10, 2006  

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