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Doin' the time to get the dime. Her Momma did NOT raise her to drink cheap champagne.

April 08, 2004

The Weight Of It All

I remember being little burying my face in my Nana's neck. She emanated patience and goodness and light. We drove to school together every day. We'd stop at the little gas station on the bottom of Capitol Hill and get two cold cheese burgers and share them for breakfast. I'd shift. She'd coach. "Okay," she'd prompt "We're speeding up. You're going to need to get ready to shift into fourth gear." And I'd wait, giddy at being given such a big responsiblity until I saw her foot lift up, signalling that it was time. "That's right. Nice and smooth. It should relax right into it." And it always did. Because I was seven and she was my world.

Nothing in the world could replace those four years of morning drives for me. Starting at the top of the hill in the early morning light. Winding down the hairpin curves catching glimpses of the sunrise splashed on the horizon between the tangan tangan of the sparse, picky boonies. Colors I had never seen before. Peaches and vibrant pinks, purples, and blues. They matched all the colors in her dress, and I used to love to stand next to her as she taught art, tracing my finger along the patterns of her dress, oblivious to the rest of the people in the room, because as long as I can remember, it has only been me and her.

"See those clouds up there, Alex?" she asked me one day after we woke up early and stole out of the house, just the two of us, to go watch the sun come up. I stood in the morning damp and nodded. "Those are angels. They're watching over you." I looked into her face and then followed her gaze up, mesmerized. Rows upon perforated rows of clouds. I knew that she was showing me God.

Now, I am 28. Morning drives and art classes are miles and lifetimes away. She lives on the reservation now, in her little house that my Aunt Ce left her. Snuggled in her fur coat, I can hear her shift her weight as she talks to me on the phone. She pauses, holding her chest. It hurts when she coughs. I can hear that hurt across the oceans and through the phonelines and it grips at my throat. The promise that I made to her when I was six years old and had my whole life ahead of me resurfaces, and I wonder if it hurts her that I did not make good on it. Instead of living in a house with her and me only, I am living in Japan. With no garden.

"Will you be coming home this summer?" she inquires, and I can hear the careful deliberation in her voice, know that she's checking her own self to keep out the anxiety so that I don't feel guilty. Always thinking of me before she thinks of herself.

I remember last summer. When I had to hug her goodbye. She was small. And sick. And I held her in my arms, and just hung on as hard and as long as I could. I didn't want her to know that I was afraid I wouldn't see her again. That I remembered my promise; that I remembered I was breaking it. I felt heavy. And empty. And afraid.

And I wanted to be five again. Two again. 14 again. So I could have all those years again. With her.

on April 8, 2004 03:18 PM amber said:

TCWH, i am crying thinking of my "Mimi." she is wanting me to move back to her town. thanks for writing that so beautifully.

on April 8, 2004 11:29 PM Howard said:


That was great...and made me realize I still miss my Bub something fierce.

on April 9, 2004 05:13 AM Brian said:

This is the best serious blog post I have ever had the pleasure of reading. You are quickly turning this site into one of my favorite boredom-killers.

Keep it up.

Also, don't eat the orange sushi...

on April 9, 2004 02:56 PM Surfcat said:

Now that was a short, but beautiful journey!

I love people like that. I have been lucky enough in my life to know a few.

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