Sunday, August 8, 2010

Our hearts are read...

I am two arms, two legs, hands and feet, and the brain dictates the flesh.

My tongue has traveled miles of skin, tasting the oil and sweat of men, feeling the dips and ridges of each outer layering.

My great grandmother was an opera singer, parting her lips for audiences through both North and South America, her husband dead too early, she left her only child in the care of other families as she toured, moving away from grief.

I've been in beds across the country, for reasons platonic and sexual, mattresses playing host to my roaming needs. Sheets cold and smooth, wrinkled and warm, flannel pilling up like a soft brillo pad, my body has met them, sweated and slept.

My great grandfather was in the Illinois National Guard. He broke my grandfather's nose with a chair to the face sometime before he passed away, when my grandfather was 10.

These visible reactions, the crooked nose with the charming face, is something that would last in impact, last in romance, bringing him through the series of girls until he married the one that became my grandmother.

My nose is straight, a nearly unnoticeable tilt at the end, something given to me by both parents, a gift that I have buried in the crooks of so many necks, the inside curve of a hipbone, the base of a man's skull, short hairs tickling that slightly curved tip.

My grandmother came out on a bus from Arkansas, into Los Angeles, to find work. She found my grandfather instead, and with him, the left shoe to her right, the matching pair, they created two children that would go on to lead vastly different lives.

My grandfather came out, likely on a wagon, from South Dakota. A serious man, a quiet man, who could only express affection for his wife and daughter- never his son. Popular theory is that he could not stand his wife loving another man, even his own offspring.

These trickles of love and neglect carry down.

When my aunt was young, sometime between nine and twelve years old, she was raped. That changed her, altered her, for the rest of her life. Nothing would be the same, and no one would ever know it had happened, save for her mother, until after she had killed herself in the summer of August 2009, when her husband was going through her childhood writings and discovered this tale.

My grandmother covered it up, from a need for privacy that would pervade her life, a need that I have never felt.

So when my father's older sister took that gun to the garage, she was blowing away forty years of a life she had not asked to lead, a life of fear and bad choices left splattered on a wall behind her.

Leaving us to wonder if the man who took her, used her, had any idea of how much everything would be altered for his few minutes, few hours, of lust.

Lives change in a day.

I sit and look at my dad, now in his late fifties. His family, his original set, is buried together in a cemetery a little less than twenty miles away.

Beloved Mother,
Beloved Father,
Beloved Sister.

He can visit his entire family in one day.

I'm left here to watch, and when I walk into his office, see him trying to pull himself together, constantly at the computer, studying, emailing, reaching to save what he has left of himself, I'm reminded that all stories do not have happy endings.

Some just end.