1. you & me both {letters to & from camp bullshit}

    Like an interpreter, a translator, a grandmother, a kindergarten teacher or an A+ student who tests well, I’m full of understanding. I understand completely. My perspective affords me both objective and a participant’s credibility. The motivation, the intention, the reason behind what we are both doing makes perfect sense to me.

    And yes, I mean it, of course I’m doing the same thing, too. I won’t call either of us guilty of it, though. I mean, you think I would keep calling myself an anarchist if I thought I could honestly get myself out of it. I’m just as inclined to pretend the system is viable, too. I’m just as likely to act in ways my spirit truly finds unconscionable in the name of my dedication to the status quo. It’s kinda gross.

    That doesn’t mean I’m going to blame either of us, not myself or you. It’s only natural to keep trying even (especially) when you know the effort’s doomed. All the more so if the reach of the thing goes beyond you. If it has the power to impact people you love.

    So, no, it is not coincidence nor an honest reflection of my true feelings, this current distance. It is, rather, a responsive (?reactionary) effort to match the direction I’ve sought and gleaned from your behavior. However (secret) indirect both of our efforts, to comprehend and to express ourselves and our plans have been, we seem to be engaged in the same trip down the old river of avoidance.

    I’m cool with that. It never changes anything. It never has. I never will. I just wanted to make sure you know. I miss you. I think the system responsible for the covert ways the world operates is unnecessary and superfluous and ineffective and possibly (in some cases) dangerous.

    But I don’t think we (or the other people we love) will be hurt by our current practice, at least not in any acute or urgent way beyond the usual socially-accelerated erosion of spirit. And it seems to be the most comfortable thing for you, so I’m fairly willing to keep going along with it. 

    The only part that kind of sucks is… shit. How do I say it? What sucks is that I really like the way I am growing to feel more like a kid inside. And this decision, this act, puts me square in the bullshit camp with the grownups. 

    It sucks but, like all things, it will pass. 

     

  2. pray thanks

    While tramping through the maze in ones own mind, if and when you find you have entered the room where the echoing voice goes on in tones of thunder about how much better the world would be “if only everyone in it were more like me”, that is the moment when you must muster everything you remember about being a child who knew and loved and understood The Goonies.

    You must put into play your very best version of the slow-back-away-carefully-without-moving-too-quickly-or-turning-around-dance step. You must slilently slide the hell outta there, now.  

    Proceed cautiously but quickly. Return immediately to the safer chambers of your body, your heart, your senses, where there is more sense and less logic. Where there is divine uncertainty. Sit in the quiet and listen mindfully and to your breathing. 

    Then give thanks to everything you are not and to everything you are not good at and to everyone else who is so much better at being different than you than you are. Praise the shit outta diversity, and mean it. I mean it. Save yourself. Like this. When the time comes, just do it. Amen.

     

  3. idfk

    There is something really dystopian gross weird creepy about General Electric crossing over into fashion via futuristicish? space clothing retro modeled after moon walk astronaut gear — idk if it’s too many mixed metaphors…?

    Or maybe it’s just really scary to see these greedy capitalist dragons realizing the limits of their own species, seeing the end of their lifespan come into view under the weight of the need for infinite economic growth. It feels so desperate. And it’s not at all reassuring or comforting.

    Imagine Godzilla after he’s been gassed and sprayed with buckshot and chased through the streets with armored vehicles and mounted bows with poison arrows. Imagine Godzilla bleeding and screaming, with sweat in his eyes, drooling, slobbering clumsy and staggering and stumbling and inevitably falling. His giant ass inevitably falling. And inevitably squashing anything with the misfortune to find itself under him in that moment. Could be any of us. Imagine the fallout, the aftershock of his impact.

    Imagine he’s really just a beast named capitalism, desperately grasping for any handhold to grab onto on his way down.

    That’s what I see when I see those General Electric sponsored tumblr posts for their retrofuturisticish space fashion. In honor of fashion week. What does GE need to have to do with fashion week, anyway. They should stick to spot light and runaway bulbs at the very least. It’s just… fucking creepy. 

    I don’t want to be of the human generation who goes down in history for their lifetime spent watching monsters kill us all in the process of dying.

    GE needs to not even try to sell clothes. Capitalism needs euthanasia. A pill it could take, something to let it go quietly and save the rest of us.

    GE should deactivate their tumblr and join up with Bayer and go work on that. But not fashion. Please. 

     

  4. jinx

    two women were walking
    one a tiny bit too slow
    the other slightly too fast
    "do you ever..?" one said
    "feel like all the people you already know
    are either too unavailable or undesirable
    when it comes to turning them into your
    new best friend?”
    "i do." said the other
    "i do think exactly that."

    then one slowed down
    just a little bit
    and the other sped up
    but i don’t know which was which
    or if they matched
    any better

    it was quiet
    while they walked
    a little bit longer
    then one said
    "we should do something about that"
    "there should be a law or something"
    the other said
    "exactly."
    they both said together



     

  5. the truth in some theories

    trixclibrarian:

    The truth is you end up forcing yourself to face your own shit whenever you dare to question the world around you. 

    There can’t possibly be words to adequately describe how life leaves you exactly as forlorn as you have ever been. You find yourself within a personality as constant as the day and the night. At the same time you see and want to detail in extreme how much life is changing you. 

    Maybe this is what it feels like to be evolving. Evolving under the reign of super conscious advanced primate brain. I don’t know, it all adds up to nothing but glorious discomfort. 

    Take my band aid theory for instance. The one I first developed back in psych grad school. Somewhere in between learning every last and equally fatal flaw of the scientific method when applied in the social sciences, and discovering that it was still and would continue for my lifetime to be the predominant mode of inquiry and advancing knowledge in the field. That was the first time my passion for the discipline paled. 

    Up next was the “professional community”. Beyond steeped, it was downright gooey with hypocrisy. Never have I encountered a more defensive bunch of crazies, all pretending they have some kind of corner on the market of sanity. Of course, this very inconsistency was reflected, already, in me. I was little more than a depressed nut job claiming to assist folks who were doing better without my help, and with far less advantage in life than me. I felt pretty guilty. 

    Furthermore, if I fully commit, in this little script, to total unscrupulous honesty, I’ll also have to admit that the band aid theory was hatched as an excuse to get me out of all of it. It’s profundity and truth being little more than coincidentally happy accidents. Really, I was scrambling for any escape route quite selfishly.

    So the theory went like this: The world at large {along with everyone in it} is so damaged beyond repair, that our best hope lies in mass destruction. Humanity’s last chance to rise anew is from the ashes of apocalypse. In which case, it stands to reason, that spending my life doing psychotherapy -even successfully - was just a way of prolonging the ultimate agony necessary before rebirth.  And thus, it made no sense to do it. Why would I want to be a band aid in the face of the world’s exsanguination.

    Looking back now I recognize the underlying arrogance from whence my theory sprung. If psychology was not a medium through which I could change and fix the whole entire world and human race, I’d just ditch it. Move on to something even more powerful. Like motherhood. There’s no denying the ridiculous youthful ego in all of that. Egads. No-one is ever going to change the world. No-one is even going to make much impact beyond their own small tract of space and personal experience.

    My only remaining immodest hope is to live long enough to see what it’s like when we are finally forced to survive by nothing less than dropping our egos and coming together in collaboration. And then, there it is exactly again. Again, here I am, with my vanity and my presumption and my proud wishes. 

     

  6. sandwich food

    Every time he wrote a story about him. A new name was given. He just couldn’t ever remember the one he made up last time and, well, to be frank about it, he wrote the stories because he didn’t like the guy. It was a way to purge. To expel the negativity created, seemingly, by the dude’s very existence. So he wrote the stories as a way of psychologically vomiting up the the guy’s influence, rejecting the guy’s toxic psychic residue, so to speak. You get the idea.

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  7. smooth in one direction

    Velvet like thick, fresh cut, tall grass in August when it’s been raining all month. Velvet green and velvet like that. Velvet like bucks horns just before the end of the month comes, in earliest evening light. Velvet like the gold amber light that shines in the windows of other people’s houses where everyone, secretly, loves to look in, at least partly because they feel they shouldn’t really. Velvet like that, velvet like looking at the sun and the spots in your eyes afterward. 

    Her skirt was velvet like that. Velvet stretched across her ass. 

    Velvet the color of plums ripe and the newest ends of the tendrils of a young ivy plant just as it begins its upward climbing. Velvet the color of the underside of your tongue. Velvet moss and mud mixed. Green brown eggplant purplish red wine bliss. Like a stained and folded over fresh ravioli, hot from the boiling pot and beet dyed the color of the oldest lobster that ever lived. Velvet like that.

    Her skirt was velvet like that. Velvet stretched even at the hem, just above her knees. And her shoes were shiny black patent. 

     

  8. When I say my superpower is clumsy, with examples to follow presently, I know that you are assuming I’m talking about my body language exclusively. But I’m not. This is a way broader range of clumsy than that. 

    Sure, it starts with tripping over my own toes on the perfectly flat uninterrupted plane of a smooth surface, and it proceeds on to reveal me whipping my head around abruptly, immediately after catching myself mid-trip, arms and legs akimbo, to glare behind me as if there is something there I can blame the mishap on, when we all know I only tripped over my own clumsy feet and nothing else.

    So, yes. Sure, absolutely. It starts with that standard sort of clumsy. Then it spreads out from there, spreads out big and generous, like warmth around a flame, like a middle-aged woman’s… um, bench warming part (if you get what I mean), like an ink stain dropped on a desk blotter. 

    Next thing you know, I’m trying to introduce two people to each other and half of what comes out of my mouth is unintentional bad puns full of sexual innuendo. I, of course, remain smiling and oblivious to my own stupid self, while my poor (former) friends blush and shuffle their feet as they make excuses and quick getaways. So excruciating is my self-embarrassment they can’t even bear to witness it and so they run at the first chance they can conjure up.  That sort of clumsy. You see, that sort of thing. 

    Clumsy, too is my aura. When I go on vacation, I need barely set foot in a strange new city before some stranger stops to ask me for urgent and detailed directions to places I’ve never heard of.  I swear even my car has a clumsy vibe, with its slow-moving-vehicle-beacon, which calmly and reliably draws any and all slow moving vehicles in a fifty mile radius to the space immediately in front of my car on the road. 

    When my daughter left for college, she had been gone less than a week when an entire family of mice caught my empty nest vibe and took up residence, loud and proud, in the wall of my bedroom. Half the people I meet think they’ve met me before and I’ve truly honestly almost never met anybody.  That kind of clumsy.

    As far as superpowers go, this is an insistent, pervasive, broad reaching case of superpower — this clumsy. I mean, I could be totally wrong about it, but I’m convinced there must be some advantage to it. I mean, there’s got to be. Right? It wouldn’t be a superpower otherwise. I’m sure of it. I’ve just got to keep being patient about it.

    I’m sure to stumble over the good part eventually. 

     

  9. a meeting: futile as any

    The Embodiment of Proximity, a tall strong but somewhat lanky fellow, with touchy feely tendencies and barely any need for private personal space, sat, sprawled, in the chair across the desk from The Embodiment of Gravity. Gravity was not quite as tall, but very broad, very stout, very stern. His arena of personal space shifted, depending on who he interacted with — the mass of their presence, their demeanor, and their size being key determinants. 

    Both Gravity and Proximity had grown accustomed to their positions, as extremely powerful forces in the Department of Social and Interpersonal Interaction. Both had suffered recent declines in the scope of their influence.

    For Gravity, the change had been more a shift of power and control, from laws and acts that controlled the individual bodies of creatures, to policies and regulations governing the construction of physical social infrastructure. Gravity still exerted a great deal of impact on the everyday lives of humans but more and more this effect was indirect, reaching human activity only by way of controlling how easily humans could connect with technology. Human transportation and communication technology had gone a long and significant way toward neutralizing his control over individual humans. In their virtual worlds, he was barely recognized. 

    For Proximity, the loss of power was even more significant. Every hit on Gravity from the direction of virtual worlds technology had been a devastating blow to Proximity. The combination of two newly dominant and partnered forces, The Embodiment of Overpopulation and Crowding and the The Embodiment of Social Awkwardness and Discomfort worked directly in opposition to Proximity, encouraging and making it more and more acceptable for humans to avoid concrete, tangible, physical contact. 

    I used to have so much control over who connected with whom. I worked so well with The Embodiment of Practicality… well the old Practicality, that is.

    Proximity had progressed well on into a full whine by this time. 

    This new so-called Embodiment of Practicality, pft! I’d hardly even call this one the same entity, barely even the same species. Sheesh, a whole new breed, that one. We don’t even speak the same language anymore. 

    I mean, take friendship for example, once upon a time, friendship was ruled by the forces of daily proximity. We built on the natural foundation of Social Need the Embodiment of Evolution embedded in the design of humans and we gave them a controlled and well defined range of other humans from which to act it out with. 

    Now! Now, we’re nothing. Friendships are all based on interest.

    Here Proximity used a baby-voiced, mocking, tone on the word interest, screwing up his face in total disregard of the word’s aptness in this context. 

    There are no limits. It’s all taste and preference. Humans will never be able to handle it. They are going to ruin everything with their gluttony!

    Gravity raised a large and heavy hand, lifted, seemingly with great effort, into the air above his desk. Then, brows furrowed, lips turned down at the corners of his mouth, eyes as stern as ever, he let his huge meaty palm drop. Drop! Landing with a loud thud and quieting Proximity abruptly. 

    Enough!

    Gravity growled.

    I’ve no time for this now. Besides there is nothing you can do until you have become completely obsolete. Humans have grown more and more incapable of seeing anything relevant to them, as long as it exists in their current environment in any way shape or form. Collectively they are horribly unself-reflective. Once you become part of the past, entirely and officially, that’s when they’ll notice you again.

    Until then, Proximity, I suggest you sit up a little straighter and draw your knees in and learn some patience. 

     

  10. all different kinds of…

    She hated that you could see the shit come out of birds when they were flying in front of you. There was a lot to like about spring but that was not something. She kept seeing it in her car, when birds crossed her path. That was bad. Bad enough. Seeing it as she walked the floor at work, in the giant warehouse. It was almost too much. She tried to never look at the floor. 

    She tried not to think about the year when all the crows and all the black birds came back. More than ten years ago, now, she was still nearly almost a girl. There had been some disease. Wiped them out one year and drought the next two meant it was several before they came back. Meanwhile, her parents had installed a pool among the trees in the middle of the grass in the huge flat back yard.

    They had cleared a ring in the trees for the sun. The pool was shiny and wet all the new crows and black birds, the year they recovered, all at once it seemed they came back in droves, and nested all around the pool. It was a regular avian arena of towering trees covered in nests full of baby birds. And they swooped and dove and perched and dropped every bit of baby bird shit they cleaned from their happy little betwigged homes directly into her pool. She hated birds for their shit. She hated that she loved their flying but in the spring she had to be reminded how much they shit. 

    Just the thought of it, the very self narration made her teeth grit and her jaw clench. Her own reaction only enraging her more. They were just birds being birds, after all. On a scale of activities unnatural, her erecting and filling and fussing and constant chemicalling of the water in her pool had to be higher, these acts grosser in their afront to mother nature than all that floating poo. But still, there it was, she hated the birds and their shit and she hated herself more for hating them, too. 

    She stomped on the break then and listened as her tires skidded on the gravel driveway, grinned as the back wheels pitched crooked and the pigeons on the roof of the garage flew off, uproosted and all a twitter. She stuck her arm out the window and gave them the finger, laughed and choked a small sob back in her throat, into a cough. She knew they would be back soon but she drug her feet on the gravel heading indoors, nonetheless. 

     

  11. hands and heart clenched

    White-knuckling it, a horrid pun, unintended but too appropriate to ignore once I’d written it. The situation is hideous. Stuck between rocks and harder places, white-knuckling it in every direction. No matter which unacceptable way we go.

    There is no way to think sanely about racism. When it rears its ugly head in the worst possible way, death of an innocent, the cry of outrage is both for the individual and against the system that made it possible. 

    To offer comfort for one is to neglect the much larger other that sits over it all, a fat cat watching mice mourn. 

    "The outside agitators are making the situation worse."

    True, if you are looking for an end to the ruckus. True, if you are looking for the solace and comfort that will tell you this is an isolated tragedy worth white-knuckling through.

    Through to what, though? Through to the other side, in the hope that when our pain subsides, things will somehow automatically align for a better future. 

    We all know that is a magic not true. 

    Unwilling to trust the system that is in charge of ensuring the safety of children, many women will stay with dangerous and irresponsible men. They do this to avoid being forced to leave the kids unsupervised with him. A thing nearly guaranteed to happen in most cases if they leave. The threat of it being, at any rate, very real to them. To women who have seen this system in action too often, too often to tease themselves with dreams of justice.

    These women are not stupid, they are not masochists, not lazy, not martyrs. They are wizened. They have learned the wisdom in keeping close to your worst enemies. They are too in touch with reality. 

    There is always a larger threat to freedom. The threat of the failing system for protection and care. The need for survival. The need for survival that trumps the need to revolt. 

    I hate to admit it, but I believe it must only get worse, before it gets better. I don’t know how to go there. I don’t want to. I do not know what to do.

    I want peace for Ferguson. But I hate the idea that quick peace means simply waiting for the next incident. To realign with a system unchanged, in the name of immediate safety and peace, to wait for more of the same rotten thing to happen somewhere else. It feels unacceptable, now. 

    I have been that woman. This feels all too familiar. I am tired of waiting, I am ready for change. And there is nothing that scares me more. 

     

  12. annie’s story

    this is a {repeat} post of a story i posted in sections last night. it is reposted here with all the sections in order in a single post. 

    They were five girls: Janie, Lena, Tammi, Annie, and Marybeth.

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  13. annie’s story

    this is the final section a short story. you can read it from the beginning, in it’s entirety, at this link: annie’s story

    So Janie took no action when it came to Annie. She did use her research connections at the newspaper to discover that Annie’s father had recently died, of cancer. Her older brother died three years prior in a drunken car accident. Annie had not been listed as a “survivor” on either brief obituary but her mother was mentioned in both. Janie took this as evidence that Annie had moved on, that she no longer wished to be connected with that part of her life. Understanding this and respecting it, Janie did not investigate further. 

    She did continue to think of Annie. And Janie absolutely continued to think of and call herself a feminist. It was such a small thing, she thought, and yet she had had occasion to defend the choice more frequently than one might imagine in this day and age. Janie did fund raising work for the local domestic violence shelter and she often shared her own story with the young women who volunteered along side her. Janie never felt compelled to share Annie’s story, but she did think of it often and felt it was an integral part of her “feminist identity”. Feminism was also an important part of how Janie raised her daughter and she had no doubts, made no bones, about it. 

    What bothered Janie most about Annie’s story over the years though, was a sense that the story, that its tragic truth, was somehow squandered. Her sense of indignance and pure disgust over the fact that despite all the clear signs of abuse, the indications that there was something very seriously wrong, no-one ever managed to get any help for Annie. Instead Annie suffered double for acts that had nothing to do with her, acts done to her that she had no control over. It all happened so close, so close and under all their very noses. That they had all noticed so many of the symptoms and yet nothing was ever done to stop it, to help Annie. This made Janie’s stomach roll. This made Janie feel a twinge of pressure to tell the story. 

    Whenever Janie had that thought, though, she only felt worse. How could one tell such a story, how can one tell any story of rape from within a “rape culture” without coming off as… fucking tantalizing or at least sensational. It seemed impossible to find a way to be unforgivingly, brutally raw and graphic without running a nearly sure risk of coming across as provocative in some way. To spell things out seemed exploitative, to merely point to horrors without depicting them felt like innuendo. 

    Janie thought about it, off and on, over the course of the next ten more years. She kept up an interest in new women authors and read some feminist works but did not do an exhaustive study or become an expert on past or current gender theory. She took her daughter to rape and physical assault defense classes and she spoke out in favor of women’s rights often. She still identified, personally and publicly, as a feminist. No qualifications, not as a “bad feminist” or a “neo feminist” or a “cis feminist”. She was obviously a civil rights advocate as well as a staunch believer in all rights queer and trans. In her mind, these causes aligned well and well worth any trouble. She guessed that made her an intersectional feminist. She wasn’t entirely sure. 

    Janie did not know if she would ever tell Annie’s story. But if she did, there were some things she knew for sure. She would not make the villian - the rapist - a poor man, not a brown man, not a suffering victimized uneducated man of any kind. No. If she ever told Annie’s story it would be clear who the criminal was. It would be clear that a rich, white, educated, working man had taken advantage of every bit of power and privilege at his disposal to meet his own selfish needs at the expense of the innocent.

    Janie also knew that if she did tell Annie’s story, there would be no scenes of defiance and tension between Annie and her father, no titillating confrontations spelled out in sweat and spitty resistance. No almost physical descriptions of the temperature in the room or the pleased look on the man’s face. Janie knew that if she ever told Annie’s story she would not use the phrase “soiled herself”. No if she told Annie’s story there would be piss and its rank smell and the consequences suffered would be made uglier than seemed possible in their realness.

    If Annie’s story was to be told it should be set right there in America, in glorious old middle class America where fancy and convenient appliances are king and children’s hearts and bodies get broken and left so inadequately attended. Janie knew for certain that if she told Annie’s story it would not be offset or interspersed with chapters that depicted anyone’s romantic “fairy tale” life. If Annie’s tale were to be told there would be no euphemistic phrases like “injuries that required reconstructive surgery”. If Annie’s tale was to be told it would be told as the tale of a tragic fistula. Because that is exactly the tragic tale it was. Nothing else. No redeeming it, no making it fit for the best seller list. 

    In the end, Janie never did feel like she had any answers, nothing that solved any of it. All she had was the story and the truest way she knew how to tell it. 

     

  14. all the way back

    Her first memories begin at age five years, seven months, marked by the birth of her first sibling, a sister. She remembers the infant as a source of great happiness and has no memories of her life prior to being an older sibling. Despite the baby’s frequent crying during its first year, she recalls thinking of the baby as interesting and curious and she has nothing but pleasant feelings associated with these early memories. She remembers being puzzled by her parents’ serious emotional reactions and the alarm they showed toward her younger sister’s distress, but she remembers feeling like their attitudes toward her remained positive and stable. In short, her earliest memories are of being a happy, well-loved child, delighted to have a shiny, glowing, magical mini-human on which to bestow her love. 

    The first thing he remembers is the slightest flash of psychological pain, the awareness of intentional cruelty as some sweet fruit is offered and then whisked away. It is merely a fragment a vague impression that suggests a high chair and some sort of teasing, however accidental or not, at mealtime. It is dated somewhere around the middle of his second year.

    The next, more fully-formed memory is tied to the first month of his fourth year of life, during the construction of a new residence on the family property. He remembers his sense of stealth, his successful circumvention of the assigned supervision by some adult relative. He remembers the feeling of having gotten by with something to climb through the nearly complete duct work in the freshly installed heating system to recover a kitten no-one had known was missing. He remembers escaping punishment only precariously, based on this act of accidental toddler chivalry and the fast talking wings of his mother’s convincing speech. It’s his first memory of a dynamic surrounding a harsh father, of which there were many to follow.

    Another boy also associates two traumatic events with his earliest memory, both involving his harrowing and last minute rescue at the hands of rash acting adults who were normally utterly subdued. The first memory is dated around age four and includes the vague impressions associated with a cut to the forehead, when he tripped and fell into a window sill. The near panic of an emergency car ride, the offering of a clean expensive handkerchief, the drowsy feeling driving home while under the tranquilizing effects of survived trauma. The second, later memory puts him at age six years and two months. It involves an incident when his screaming grandfather chased away a snake, yelling as he swung a rusty hoe  about the small boy’s head. Both incidents were remarkable for the alarmed reactions of the adults, in contrast to his mother’s more typical failure to acknowledge his presence ,let alone respond to possible dangers. He characterizes his own response to these memories as confused and excited. 

    One subject, a girl, connects her first memory with a television program, a televised circus. The purchase of a larger, color television set shortly thereafter dates the event and places her at age five years three months. She can’t recall exact details but knows her own reaction to the program triggered a sudden negative and angry response in her father, who ordered her mother to remove her from the room and take her directly to bed. The child remembers feeling disdainful, sour and also somewhat self-righteously sorry for her father, dismissive and judgmental of her obedient mother. She remembers thinking her parents were obnoxious, sympathetic bordering on pathetic and transparently deceptive. She remembers a sense of having both given in to them and disregarded them. 

    The list of early memories, tied to participant ages based on contextual facts and details, was as long and varied as the list of participants. The first memories were universally rich in spatial, contextual details; a vast majority included remembered emotional overtones. The list went on and on…

    this is part 3 of Ellie’s story: which begins with up and out and continues with back in 

     

  15. soaked in

    i was fifteen years old then. taller, i held the umbrella. 

    i stood next to my sobbing grandmother for the fifth day in a row. i stood next to my sobbing grandmother, at the gravesight of her philandering lover and i watched her crying harder than she ever did over my grandfather’s grave.

    i asked my grandmother why, why she cried so much harder for old hank scalliwag than she did for my grandpa. i asked her and she told me.

    darling, your grandfather was a good a man but he needed me, she said, blowing her nose and then shaking out her handkerchief  on the grass for emphasis.

    he stayed with me all those years and he was good to me and we were the best of friends and lovers sometimes too and there were some things about me he maybe did really appreciate.

    she paused, furrowed her brows as she took a deep breath and spoke in a deliberately stern voice right at me.

    but your grandfather needed me!

    grandmother shook her finger at me then, as if i had committed the crime of needing her. which i had. but she didn’t seem to notice because she went right on.

    oh! she wailed again, looking back at old hank’s grave.

    your grandfather might have even loved me more but more than that, more than loving me, he always needed me

    her tone was definitely accusatory as she glanced back over at me. now i was the one staring out at the cemetery.

    hank here, he never once needed me. he had a wife, hell, at one point he may have actually had two wives, who knows, but he always had a wife, always had a girlfriend, had three sisters he saw every week for christ’s sake! he had a whole gang of men who hung around nearly worshiping him.

    hank never needed me for a single thing, what!? - what’s he gonna need me for? the peanut butter and jelly sandwich i made him when he’d sneak over early in the morning before he even had breakfast? i don’t think so. he didn’t need me to cook for him or do laundry for him (although i did a few times, with pleasure), he didn’t need a damn thing from me, i did not have to be anything for him, anything i did for him was fine, he wanted me. he wanted me in a way he never could have afforded to want me if he had needed me, you see? 

    i shrugged, but didn’t look at her. i understood then, by that time. i could see she was right even if i didn’t want to admit it.

    your grandpa, he needed me to be the strong one, the firm one. the authority figure with your dad and your uncles. he needed me to keep the household and our family accounts. he needed me to always be the one thinking ahead and coming up with a plan when we needed bailing out. he was good to me, oh yeah. and loyal and he trusted and believed in me, i think more than anyone on the earth could trust another person. your grandpa worked hard for me. but it was because he needed me. 

    and that meant i wasn’t free. it meant i had to be the me he needed. 

    so, lovey, you’re not wrong. i feel hank’s loss harder. 

    i cry harder for hank. hank who never met a single one of my worldly needs, babe. neither me for him either. we did not need each other but oh, oh how that left us free to want each other. whatever we could get of each other. it was wild, it was totally unconditional what we felt for each other, i tell you. it was pure and it was want and it was all about love no matter what honey. 

    wow so… you guys were really important to each other then

    mmhmmm. bet your ass. wasn’t a week in thirty-two years went by i didn’t put my arms around that man

    but you think it was because you didn’t need each other

    damn straight

    not because you did

    you got it. that is it exactly.