We arrived at LaGuardia early, checked a suitcase containing our future dirty clothes, tip-toed past the guys in camo and armed with impressive weaponry, then through security, then killed an hour watching CNN on one of the many televisions sprouting like stalactites from the grimy tiled ceiling of the gate lobby.
"Top kill" came up quite a bit. "Success" didn't.
Greg and I were carrying onto the plane three bags: one each for our on-board entertainment, and one shared bag containing Waffles. The bag containing Waffles huffed a lot, sighed, occasionally barked or whined, but mostly just sat there on a seat between Greg and me. Sometimes, one of us would unzip it, and a long wet nose would poke out. Nostrils expanding and contracting. A curious tongue lapping up the diseased LaGuardia air.
Waffles was riding the white tiger. He was our very own canine Patty Duke. Sedated, thanks to the vet, with "a light sedative lasting 8 hours, for dogs weighing 10 lbs. or less." His left eye was much droopier than his right, and both eyes were glassed over. I wondered what he was seeing through the glass and the droop. I hoped he was hallucinating.
When I glanced up at the TV screen at CNN, I hoped I was hallucinating as well.
Before leaving NYC, Greg told me his mother was going in for a surgical procedure. "She's having two spurs removed from her shoulder," Greg said. "I don't know the details. The surgery is the day we fly in, so I'll probably have to go there right after we land."
"'There' where? Hospital? Home?"
"I don't know. She doesn't know."
"She's having surgery on the day we come home for the first time in two years?"
#3 A Few Drinks the Day Before Graduation
The main reason Greg and I went back to Alabama was to see my brother, Alex, get a diploma. We arrived on Wednesday, there was a family party (Dad's side) for Alex on Thursday night, and graduation was on Friday, followed by a party with my mom's family.
Right. So. Wednesday night, after dropping Greg and Waffles off at his mom's house, I hang with Dad, who is in so-so health, a bit heavier than he was last time I saw him. He downed a glass of wine, poured himself another. He and I went out onto the second-storey deck, which overlooked a small hill and tall trees, not many houses visible, a wide blue sky, and a pile of brush and dead tree limbs slated for incineration just as soon as the family of rabbits currently living in it decided to relocate.
New York quiet is similar to Alabama quiet. Don't let the metropolitan or the proud red necks tell you differently.
Thursday morning, I called Greg.
"Hey, how's Waffles?"
"Hey. He's okay."
"So. Okay, good. How's your mom?"
"I'm gonna have to stay here for a while. She's [pause] not doing so good."
"I thought it was just minor outpatient stuff. What's wrong?"
"I'm just gonna need to stay here. She can't move her arm, she can't... I have to help her get to the bathroom, and I'll need to help feed her for a while."
"But we planned."
"Yeah, I might have to cancel."
"Are you still gonna get to meet your birth mom?"
"I don't know, Marc. Mom's really... she's not..."
"Did they know it was gonna be this bad? I mean, maybe she should still be in the hospital."
"She's in a lot of pain. Yes, she should be in the hospital."
"But, you were gonna meet your birth family." I kept coming back to that. For years, Greg had been in contact with his birth grandmother and uncle, but his mother, his biological mother, had never agreed to meet with him. Until this trip. This trip, this Thursday, Greg's biological grandmother had finally convinced her daughter--Greg's biological mother and the mother of Greg's biological younger brother--to meet him for lunch. It's what he's wanted since I've known him.
"I have to cancel the lunch with [bio-gram]. I can't go."
"You have to. I'll take care of your mom. You go."
"You don't want to do this."
Probably right. "Then can't her sister--"
"She has to put a kid through school. She's at work. That's what she told me."
A few exchanges later, Greg said to me: "You don't get to be mad at my family," and hung up.
#5 Drinks before Graduation, cont'd
Dad and I were on the deck. He leaned against the railing, glass of wine resting beside him. The air in Alabama was thick, wet, but the sky was clear though dimming, and the clouds few and far between. Later that night, I'd sneak out onto the deck like a 15 year old just to stare at the fat moon, which was blindingly bright.
"He's only 18," Dad said. He said this as we were talking about rabbits in funeral pyres, but I knew who he was talking about. My brother.
"Right." The whole thing about Alabama quiet and New York quiet is that both places have cars passing--it's just that in NYC you hear them immediately, while in AL, you hear them pass as the sound bounces off of trees and grass and distant houses. In NYC, the sound of traffic is direct and immediate. In AL, the sound comes at you indirectly.
"So just keep that in mind. All of his friends will be there at the party tomorrow night." Thursday night.
"Yeah, I assumed."
"I wanted to talk to you about this. Why I just killed a few glasses of wine. Talk to you about this."
So much sky. It's not like I don't see sky in New York, usually in designated places as if the city zoning board marks out the places we New Yorkers are allowed to look up and the places we're not. An ambulance siren bounced around the landscape and the houses and reached us on the deck and Dad said, "Hear that a lot more down here."
"About what? Talk to me about what?"
"All of his friends know about you. And, look, Alex loves Greg like a, a brother. Loves the shit out of him. But he's 18, you know, and it's not like being up there, you're here and it's different. So just, just keep that in mind."
I stared at the railing of the deck. "It's not like I'm gonna hump Greg in the middle of the floor."
"He's just, I think he's just nervous about having you and Greg here tomorrow night. It's his graduation party. He's still concerned, you know, about what people think of him."
"You needed two bottles of wine to talk to me about this?"
"Glasses. Two glasses."
#6 Florence Library
On Saturday, I pulled into the parking lot of the Florence Public Library, which is a relatively new building--Florence's old public library was relocated some years back. The old building, a block away from the new, impressive building, is now an annex for some Baptist church. I can't help but wonder what the fate of this new building will be once the town moves the library out of it, if they ever do. Perhaps Mormons will need a place to hang up their magic underwear for drying.
The library, the NEW library, is across the street from one of Florence's more popular parks, which is Wilson Park, which is a park made up of a lot of green and a single fountain. Before I left Florence, Wilson Park was known for its gay activities--teh gheys would drive around its four sides, looking for ass or a blow job (while the fountain in the center of the park ejaculated over and over again, even at night). Wilson Park was, for years, the center of the gay Florentine universe, as well as Renaissance Faires, art festivals, high school prom pictures, etc. For me, what I most remember Wilson Park for is this: I once got drunk during an ice storm, walked to the park, and passed out in the frozen-over fountain. Woke up the next morning, cold as hell, staring at the bruised clouds and the bottom of one of the fountain's bowls. I remember being surprised to discover that even in freezing winter, moss still managed to grow underneath that bowl.
So. Saturday. Sitting in the library's coffee shop, taking advantage of the library's free wireless as I sipped on an ice coffee and devoured a blueberry muffin, waiting on a friend to arrive. I checked out news sites on my laptop. Top kill wasn't. Obama's press conference was painful. Speidi were getting divorced.
I was alone in the coffee shop, except for the young woman behind the counter. She was on the phone, talking to her boss about how the March of Dimes people seemed to want her to do something she didn't know how to do (namely, the March of Dimes people wanted her to set out a donation box next to the tip box).
I knew a guy who used to work behind that counter. When I used to come here, my ice coffee was served with ice MADE from coffee. Now, the ice is just water, frozen.
While waiting for my friend, I txt'd Greg. "How are you?"
Later, while walking around with said friend, I received a txt from Greg: "aaaaargh"
Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.
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