Tuesday, October 22, 2013

To disappear


All the flowers planted in downtown DC look dead to me, which is perhaps related to but not the same as a metaphor. My grandmother, who has never heard me, is starting to lose her hearing, which isn’t the annoying part. The annoying part is when she keeps calling to ask me to call her, even though I already told her I don’t have the energy. Then my mother calls, to ask me to call my grandmother.

Maybe I will lose my voice from telling these people I don’t have the energy to talk. They never wanted me to have this voice anyway. Lying in the sun in the park, that’s what I want to do, I want to lie in the sun in the park again, like earlier today, but then I would have to get back. Or, first I would have to get there, then I would have to get back. My grandmother says it’s such a pretty day, would it tire you out to go on a walk?

Yes, I already told you that.

My grandmother is starting to lose her hearing, but she was already losing her memory, and even before she was losing her memory she was repeating everything, over and over, no matter how many times I answer her questions she asks the same ones.

I don’t have the right answers.

She wants me to tell her I’m happy, or content. Something like that. I’m never less happy than when she asks me that. My mother leaves the house to give my grandmother and I time alone, but she doesn’t tell my grandmother that. After my mother gave her the wrong code to get into her building, and my grandmother is afraid of the neighborhood, all the news about muggings, doesn’t want to take her phone out of her purse. She is 92 years old, on a street she doesn’t know, in a neighborhood gentrifying in the most obvious ways possible.

My mother leaves migrant outside, and then leaves us, and this is the part I like. Looking at photos. I asked my grandmother to bring these photos. Photos of her parents and grandparents, people I’ve never met, stories of family history, history I’ve never known. Her father owned a furniture store in Hagerstown, Maryland. His brother owned a department store. Her father was such a nice man, that even after she failed her driver’s license test the third time, he told her it was because they thought she looked too young.

This is so much less exhausting than talking about myself, repeating the same things that my grandmother will never want to understand.

My mother leaves my grandmother outside, and then leaves us, and there is a bottle of wine that my mother thought had a cork, but it’s twist-off, so my grandmother can’t open it. She doesn’t want me to open it, because it will hurt me, and I don’t want to open it, because for once she’s right, it will hurt my body.

When my mother comes back, everything is exhausting again. The way she creates tension, then says I don’t want to be in the middle of this. You are this. There is no this without you. Like today, when my mother called me to tell me to call my grandmother. I already called her. It took all of my energy to tell her I don’t have any energy. And then she call again.

I call my grandmother anyway. She wants to know if I want to come over, even though she told me beforehand that I couldn’t go to her house because people talk, it isn’t worth it, just to see her at her house every few years.

She already knows it’s worth it for me.

As a kid, my grandmother’s house was always calming, it felt sophisticated because it was a big old apartment building: I wanted to disappear, I wanted to disappear in my grandmother’s apartment. But, 5 years ago, after my last visit to my grandmother’s place, she decided it was too much, what people say, not even people she knows but the people working there. She doesn’t care how I look but she can’t deal with the comments.

And now she’s asking me to come over, why don’t I come over, it will be relaxing. There’s no explanation for this change in policy. I would say heart, but I don’t know. Maybe I will lose my voice from losing my voice.

2 comments:

Willard Lake said...

...feel better, had a great time at the reading,...did you git yo' pics...

w aka twain

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Yay -- so great to see you on this coast, Wil!!! Got the photos but girl, they are blurry – not your fault, though, just the computer and my movement :)

love love and love –
mattilda