Tuck this thought inside your head. Instruction I resist. In a family known for its stubborn streaks, I might be the one to claim top honors. One person’s determination is another’s definition of being a shit-head. (A direct quote from my mother.)
Just, please. I can’t think when family says to me, Tuck this thought inside your head. I can’t think their thoughts.
So when my smoke alarm goes off minutes after we’ve agreed, by text, not to meet for breakfast because he doesn’t want to drive to town, and I text him that my smoke alarm won’t stop, and he texts me back to disconnect the batteries, and I text back to say it is hard-wired, and he texts back to ask if I am sure I don’t smell smoke, and I text back that I am about to smash it with a hammer, and minutes later he shows up at my door with a screwdriver, I realize he’s never tried to put a thought inside my head. He’s all about ladders from the basement, wire-nuts riding on floorboards next to the Van Morrison Moondance CD.
Minutes later I am climbing inside his car, my feet finding space on the floorboards between the half of minnow trap he has left and a street poster he meant to give me last month. The thirty-five year old smoke alarm has been disabled, and we are headed out for breakfast after all.
Except that he drives past the good breakfast cafe, intent on explaining how he dropped half the minnow trap in the channel when a stray rottweiler came trotting over to him. The trap portion not tied to the rope is the part that he is now missing. All those minnows gone.
When I mention we just passed the good cafe, he doesn’t turn around and go back. Because that is what he doesn’t do: turn around and go back. This astonishes me, but in all the time we’ve been friends, I’ve never asked him to go back. Which is how we often end up eating at the casino with the flashing lights where no one goes to eat. This time, two yellow striped lines away from where I open the car door, two opened beer bottles stand sentry to the deserted parking lot.
And after a breakfast where I always order the same thing and he never orders the same thing twice, we step outside the casino and stop. He notices what I notice. One of the beer bottles is gone.
The gallery owner meets my daughter and me in the second room of her warehouse. She wants a custom pendant for her daughter who is moving back home after leaving her husband. None of our pendants she sells in her shop work for this situation. She wants a word in the collage that will give her daughter strength. How do you say it, she asks. No longer in a marriage, she’s . . . what? In a divorce, now? Is that it?
Through, my daughter says. It’s the word you use to move yourself out of something bad and on to something good.