My child has been home sick all week. A fever has kept him from being very active. We’ve watched a lot of television. Too much. We are heavy with it. Easy to fall into and out of. So many choices that it is impossible to choose.
I remember myself. Sweaty on the couch. Light wavy through the red curtains. Woozy on actifed. Sleep and then not. I would watch Sesame Street, the Flintstones. I would watch Coronation Street with my mother. Maybe eat some soup or a popsicle.
And then the prize: Match Game.
I didn’t laugh because I didn’t get the jokes. The flirtation made me anxious, self-aware. My biggest crush to date had been James Garner when I was in kindergarten. By first grade, I had moved on to Richard Dawson. Bert Convy.
But the women were most interesting. The ones who played smart. Brett Somers. There was a great deal of scorn directed at her. Distrust. Being a woman and being smart was dangerous.
Someday maybe I would be dangerous too.
It was about a pregnant chambermaid. It was about the shifting skin. It was about a Scottish fisherman. It was about the color orange. It was about busting out of here. It was about your eyelids. It was about loneliness. It was about a homemade kitchen table, blue light at dusk, ice-cold root beer, and selling your car to a stranger. It was about Hank Williams.
We were never going to amount to much. Instant coffee and beer, playing chicken on the street of churches. We ran into electric fences in the dark. But he wasn’t dead yet. He would die later, waiting on a heart that was never coming. We would have been better if we’d run, punching out into that night full of stars.
I wanted to say that my horoscope called this full moon an angry moon. I wanted to say that I did feel it pulling me with it out into the dark, cold waters. I wanted to say that the water is always there, that I was born on a island, then I lived on a lake. And I wanted to say how later I moved to the sea. I wanted to say something about my horoscope and the angry moon and the tide. I wanted to say that once I sat next to a woman who knew nothing of the tide. Knew nothing of the high, the low. Knew nothing of the water pushing out and dragging in. I wanted to say how she hadn’t felt it move her. I wanted to say how you are your own undertow. I wanted to say that you are your own water, your own angry moon.
A small stove. No room for a table. The washing machine in the corner, emptying gray water by a tube into the sink. A window overlooked the parking lot. A store’s dumpster. Beyond that the street and more streets beyond that, leading through and up. Then rose a hill and the buildings on the hill glowed in the afternoon light. That glow, those windows, the red brick, all were possibility untapped. Fueled by bitterness, this was a cold, a hungry, life of the mind. It would be. Or it would be nothing at all, reduced to the empty smells of dying love.