Monday, January 5, 2009
In the New Year
Wow, it’s been a long time since my last post (not counting the placeholder I left up on New Year’s Day). First of all, let me say that I sincerely hope everyone had a very happy holiday season, both for Christmas and New Year’s. I have quite a bit of catch-up to do in reading everyone else’s posts and responding to comments.
On the day after Christmas, Powell, Thomas, and I piled into my Oldsmobile and drove four hours to our grandmother’s house in Native State. Our destination was not four hours, away, though; following the directions I printed off of Google to the letter, I continued going straight onto a certain highway that the Internet told me would turn into another, when in fact I should have merged left to get onto the second road.
We’d driven a considerable distance in the wrong direction before we’d uncovered the error, and of course Powell took the occasion to deride my driving skills. He refused to concede that the mistake hadn’t been my fault, preferring to blame our detour on my incompetence rather than the obviously flawed directions.
“Powell,” I said exasperatedly. “Read the directions out loud, as they’re written.”
He did, managing to voice aloud the words “go straight on Route Whatever until it turns into Native State 100,” while maintaining his ludicrous argument that the directions were accurate because had I been in the left-hand lane, the two highways would have come together, and that driving onto a separate ramp technically did not constitute “merging.”
It made me irritated that he was so determined to place the entire situation on my poor capabilities as a driver.
When we finally did arrive at our grandmother’s house, well after dark (we’d delayed our trip until the day after Christmas specifically to avoid driving at night), she had a turkey-and-mashed-potato-dinner waiting for us.
It was delicious.
After several days there, I was glad I’d come but ready to leave. We had a good visit, seeing “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and hosting Tall Cousin for a night (I can’t believe that he’s fifteen now), but I find as I get older that I don’t do well for any extended period of time around my grandmother.
She is too bitter, too mean, too hardened by the years of emotionally-damaging feuds and disownments that she had a larger role in provoking than I ever realized when I was a child.
She clings to arguments, harsh words long-dead to those who spoke them, and all the miseries of the past. Any mention of my parents, with whom she currently does not speak, and especially of my mother’s family, can provoke some savage remembrance of something far gone.
During my childhood, my mother’s relations, who thought her insane for marrying a man ten years her senior with two children, were not fair to Powell and I. In typical white trash fashion, they took out their frustrations on a three- and five-year-old.
That ended, though.
Aunt Ostentatious, who visited here for Christmas, has been on good terms with us for years, and I’ve become downright fond of her. She may, after all, be living in our house soon (something that Blonde Cousin and Pretty Hair were finally informed of over New Year’s).
Yet, while my aunt’s conduct has changed, my grandmother’s hostility toward her has continued. The group of people she is able to forgive seems small. I count myself, Powell, Aunt Crazy, and Anne among its number, but very few others.
In a pleasant surprise, I visited with Peruvian Girl, who I haven’t seen in forever, the day before New Year’s Eve. We were both very happy at the reunion, which crowded schedules have delayed for so long.
This girl, now nearing nineteen, was fifteen years old when I met her in February of 2006, shortly after moving to Mountain Town. She’d been Powell’s acquaintance first, but soon became much closer with me and Gangster Boy, now eighteen. The three of us formed an exclusive group deemed The Best Friends’ Club and spent almost every night of the summer of 2006 out until three o’clock in the morning.
Then Gangster Boy went to live in Native State, and the three of us were split. Peruvian Girl and I remain good friends, though, so were both quite glad to see each other again.
We hope to go out together soon, but that will depend on how our other obligations match up.
I’m almost as busy now as I am during the school year. First of all, there’s work: I resumed my position at Western City Movie Theater yesterday, after taking a two-week absence to allow for my surgery and visiting Native State. I’m slated for two days a week at the theater, and then another two days a week at the Western City Newspaper. It’s still better than during the semester.
I expected to spend New Year’s Eve by myself, but those plans were changed when Powell and Blonde Boy, his best friend, returned early from a botched party they’d been attending. The three of us watched the ball drop on CNN while sipping off of White Russians that my brother had made.
“Don’t put too much liquor into mine, Powell,” I cautioned as he was preparing them. “You know how I get.”
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I won’t.”
He kept his word, but I only had about a quarter of a glass anyway.
Such is a lightweight.
As confetti exploded over New York City and the shimmering sign below the lowered ball sparkled “2009” in enormous numbers, the three of us toasted to the New Year.
Powell tried to make a joke of it, but Blonde Boy insisted that he be serious. I was grateful for this; some things should have meaning.
“To 2009,” he said.
“To 2009,” I agreed, clinking my glass against his. “To the New Year.”
I like Blonde Boy a bit better than my actual brother, if truth be known. He has all of the playfulness and sensitivity of my sibling with none of the bullying.
Contemplating the coming year, I feel a curious sense of dread and excitement. Something is coming.
“Where do you think we’ll be a year from now, in 2010?” I asked, staggered by the thought.
“I don’t know,” Blonde Boy answered. “I think it’ll be a good year.”
“I think it will be a good year for us personally and a terrible year for the country as a whole,” I said. The recession has had only the mildest of effects on my family and none whatsoever on Blonde Boy’s family thus far, but we’re certainly aware of the difficult conditions outside of our circle.
My mother, the next morning, responded to the question as though it was an unusual one.
“You’ll probably still be here,” she said. “And Powell will be, too. It’ll probably be pretty much the same.”
Maybe. I just can’t shake the feeling that some kind of change is coming. Possibly because the idea of living in one place for so long boggles my mind (we’ve been here three years now), I feel like we’re due for something different. Whether it pertains to our location or not, I believe very firmly that something new is on its way. I don’t see how the current mode of life can go on.
The day after New Year’s, on January 2nd, I began my internship. I’ll be frank; I found the dank newsroom and dull, low-paid reporters to be both boring and depressing. It is a step, though, in the right direction. The experience is good for me.
I was going to say that I wished I hadn’t taken the spot at the paper, seeing as I won’t get any college credit for it, but if I weren’t doing that I’d probably be whining about being too inactive, so it’s good.
Dear God, how is it 2009? That’s amazing.
I’ll write more about the personalities at Western City Newspaper later. I’ve met a few people, and they all seem friendly, but I’ve not gotten to know any of them yet.
On January 3rd, I had to take an eight-hour driving improvement course because of a ticket I received in October. I enjoyed this more than I would ever confess to another person face-to-face, far more than I should have.
Get ready, because this is pathetic: being in a classroom again, with people near me in age, and actually being monitored by an instructor, felt so good. An unsatisfying present inevitably makes the past a refuge. I find dwelling on prior years to be an unhealthy exercise, so it is something I make a conscious effort to avoid doing while awake. I’d prefer to work with what I have in front of me.
No one can control their dreams, though, and those very often take me back.
Being in that course felt like being in high school again. The snickering, the laughter, the jokes, the youthful jocularity and ambivalence, and the familiarity that the teacher soon assumed with us, were wonderful.
Driving away when it was done stung more sharply than anything has in a long time. These days, it’s usually a dull ache. But, for one day, I saw into a happy world that I can never be a part of again. Only two of the seven participants were actually in high school, the rest of us being college students, but the atmosphere was the same that I remembered. Ah, memory.
There are times when I’d like to bash myself in the head and forget the last two years.
The momentary flash of pain did give me some terrific inspiration, though, leading to the creation of a new monster for the book I’m writing.
Much as I enjoyed the time off of work, I was very happy to see everyone again yesterday.
Much of the commentary centered on my hair.
“Your hair got a lot longer,” Black Dress Girl said. “All of a sudden it got really, really long.”
Later on in the night, Blunt Girl, upon catching sight of me, tackled me to a wall and exclaimed, “BB!”
After taking me down as if she were a linebacker, she looked at my head and noted evenly, “Your hair got longer.”
It’s something that I’ve noticed, too. A few days ago, I realized with a happy shock that it now reaches my shoulders, meaning that the growth really has sped up a lot. I wear it down much of the time, so it kind of flows everywhere and the rapid increase in length has made me much more conscious of it. I sometimes pull absentmindedly at the blonde locks while typing or reading, and there’s a whole lot more for my hands to wrap around now than there was even a month ago.
Many of you will remember what I looked like in August, when my head had the appearance of a large mushroom and my hair could not even touch my collar. Now, it has begun to spill onto my shoulders, and before long it will drench them.
I welcome this development.
Today I had to drive out the Heir to the Throne County to turn in the certificate stating that I’d successfully completed the driving improvement course. All charges should now be dismissed, leaving my record unaffected.
Tomorrow I will be at Western City Newspaper again, but I’m hoping they’ll let me off the day after that.
Once again, I’ve sat down intending to write a little and have blabbered on for several pages.
I’ll bring up just one more thing: I mentioned earlier that I’m writing a book. It is, in fact, a fantasy novel, with the working title of “Four Cousins,” and I’ve been toying with the idea of posting sections of it on this site to get feedback, and, more importantly, to entertain my readers.
If I do it, it will probably be a chapter a week. Speaking of special postings, I really do need to get on March of 2003.
Anyway, that’s all for tonight.