Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Back from the Land of Weak Irony

It's Day Three of getting off Christmas Sugar and Day Three of Daisy's and my return to Brooklyn from Arizona. I'm not going to apologize for breaking my abstinence but I will say that I feel like shit in the wake of it. I wasn't walking and being back in business with the dogs is hard on my thighs and shoulders. I'm hungry every two hours as my body readjusts. I won't mention my digestion. And yet it feels heavenly after three weeks of that heavy sodden ghastly mulch I was living in. When I'm In The Sugar, there's no sense of "this will be better when". When I get out of it, I know the first seventy-two hours will be hard and the first ten days dangerous and touchy. So I'm countin' days.

It may sound very strange, then, that I will be thinking about thinking about moving to the Land of Nothing when the Book is done. My mother is ailing and my father is blind. They are scared for each other and scared for themselves. They need me and I want to be there to walk them as gently and intelligently through their end time as I can.

There are pro's and con's to this. I realized how much I miss being treated as though I am not responsible for how much the Safeway clerk, cable guy or waiter hates his or her job. People are friendly, smiling, helpful, accommodating. When the Schwann's delivery man brought in food, he stocked the freezers for my parents, roughed up Daisy, said hello in the most jolly way to my parents and breezed on out in the time it would have taken for a New York City or TriState deliveryman to diss his customers for having paid for his services.

I want to collect my stuff and live with it before I, too, face my end times. My china and furniture are spread out between Montana and Oregon and the things I have in the Bat Cave can't be seen OR appreciated for the crunch of space here. It would be nice to have a full size refrigerator and a microwave and fuses that don't blow when I run my hair dryer.

On the other hand, Arizona is as white bread as any place I've ever seen and the last place on earth I'd pick to live. I find the consumption of gasoline, land, and water distasteful. There are no mailboxes on the streets. There are no people on the streets. There is no recycling beyond newspapers. The houses all look the same and even the city offices are in strip malls.

Like my digestion, I won't go into the lack of greenery and the summer heat.

And then there is being home. I took Daisy out five minutes after getting back and five minutes later we ran into Boomer. At seven the next morning we bumped into Steven, Jonathan, Susan, and Daisy's friend, Chance. The dogs were incredibly happy to see me and I laugh at how I drag myself out on Monday morning to be met with, "FRANCES! IS IT CHRISTMAS? YOU'RE HERE -- IT MUST BE CHRISTMAS! DON'T YOU JUST LOVE MONDAY MORNINGS WHEN WE GET TOGETHER AGAIN!?"

The chances of knowing one's neighbors are slim in the Land of Weak Irony. You may only chat once a year, as you're setting up your inflatable snowman in the front yard for Christmas.

But then I arrive at Newark and find that Daisy's crate had been secured with those police ties. "You want those cut?" the clerk asked.

No, I wanted to say. I carry sharp scissors in my carry-on bag.

"Please," I answered.

So she did -- all but one, meaning I had to interrupt politely, collect glares and clerkly suspicion while I cut the last tie off in order to break the crate down. This is what is considered "service" in the TriState area.

And then again, I talked to one of my dog's humans yesterday evening and we laughed about the dogs until we were on the verge of tears. I ran into a friend this morning and laughed about dogs (it's a theme, OK?) until I hawked up a loogie. I cracked another of my dog's humans up at noon. People get me here. People make me laugh here. My acquaintances are, intellectually if not financially, my peers. We're all fulsome Democrats. There are books in our homes and dreams of hilly forests in our citified hearts.

But a gym would be cheaper in Arizona and some of the year I could take Daisy to the lake.

Back and forth. What I do know is that my dream when I finish this book is to rent a car and drive away. I want to visit every important person from my past and make peace with it. I'll take a miss on three or ten people I actively...well, hate, but I'd like to reinstall friendships, colleagueships, sisterships, auntships and cousinships while seeing how they have fared and shaped their lives in the last twenty or thirty years.

It would seem my parents' end times are shaping how I'm thinking about my own initial descent down the slope.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see you back - I was afraid you'd gone just as I found your blog (although a few years after I read your book). I'm on the East Coast, transplanted from the Midwest. Whenever I (briefly, in passing) consider moving back, it's mostly because there, I'm not (relatively) so fat.

Maybe it's a casserole thing.

Anne M. said...

Having just come back from a visit to older parents myself, I can relate. I think of you so obviously a New Yorker, and yet, you weren't always there. Your time with your parents is limited and very special for you and for them. Caring for them, being with them, is important.

Love the idea of you (and Daisy, too, of course) hopping in a car and visiting people and reconnecting with people who mattered and maybe still do.

Welcome home, dear friend.

Bea said...

Glad to have you "Home." I do not think of you as an Easterner, inspite of half a life there.

Move to Arizona and take care of your parents.

When you are done...Flathead lake, or where ever, will be waiting.

Would welcome more "blogs about dogs."

Unknown said...

There is intelligent life everywhere, even in Arizona (or Ohio). You'd find it. But make sure that you do what's right for YOU in all this.

Also, a compromise is possible -- Maybe there's an artsy community within driving distance of your parents' whitebread retreat that would still allow you your personal space, maybe even a college town where you could pick up some classes and meet some nice liberals.

Don't make any promises until you finish The Book, though, because feeling obligated to run off as soon as it's done could definitely make you feel reluctant to finish it.

Glad to see you back and blogging.

Laura N said...

Frances, I am so glad to see you back and posting. I've missed you.

Change is a challenge; aging parents can be heartbreaking. You've got a rough road ahead, but you'll get through.

One of my all time favorite movies is set in NYC (it's cheesy, but I love Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan cheesy movies). So, I'll share one of my favorite lines from "You've Got Mail"-- when Birdie says to Kathleen, "Closing the store is the brave thing to do. You are imagining the possibility of a different life."

Imagine the possibilities of your life and be brave, friend.