Extraordinary stories from everyday life on the edge of the world

Stories

the best thing about us is the people we know.
 

Blue Ash Court || Wednesday, 2.12pm

The light fell just as I passed through Hannibal, Mo. and the rest of the drive to Bloomington was shrouded in darkness and rain and that was just fine with me. Being back here is spooky. I was glad not to have to look at it.

Shouldn't there be something reassuring about coming back to a place, unless it was the scene of tragedy? But I feel this sense of loathing when I walk in here, even though it's my friends' house. I don't know if it's house, town, region or state, but something about this joint feels oppressive to me and I'm glad I'm only here to get Jamie out.

It's always a little strange to come back to somewhere, I guess, where you just were, when things it cracked open aren't resolved for you. That must be it. Because I pull up to the corner of the driveway (where I have to park because otherwise Benjie can't back out of the garage), and I remember talking to Freya on the phone about leaving North Carolina…and now they're leaving Austin to go back there.

Pulling into the driveway, I look at the mailbox and think of checking it for money, of which there was never enough…and now, even with a couple thousand dollars in my savings account, here I am worrying about whether the next couple thousand is going to show this week or next. (You don't have to tell me how lame that is.)

And I think of coming back from the Old 97s show, on a night just as muggy as this, so besotted with Rhett Miller, so despondently resigned to going to concerts alone and maybe never being able to really like anyone, even if I loved them, after the last person…and then, only a few weeks later, meeting the person who changed everything about what I was looking for and took all the dread out of the phrase "there's someone better for you."

I think of how hard it was to leave Leanne, and now she's in Arizona, in the present, and I'm back here, revisiting the past.

I think that five years is a better period for coming back, than one year.

I remember my mom, when we first moved back to San Diego from Kansas City, took pains to avoid driving through our old neighborhood. When I asked her why, she said she it made her feel as if we'd never left. The possibility of running into people we used to know was bitter, to her--to them, we were just people they hadn't seen in a while. It was as if those three years of our lives hadn't happened, she said, as if all the things that had happened to us in another place weren't relevant.

I wonder when Jamie will be able to come back here, after she leaves, and not have it act up like a bum knee or ache like a pulled tooth. A house contains so much…even for me, who only stayed here six weeks. The little bare bedroom with the cross on the wall has a musty smell. I don't remember that from before--and it rained a lot, that May and June.

I stare into the tiny mirror over the even tinier sink. I think that right now is a later date's five years. The things that started here last summer will not seem so portentous; the things they led to will solidify inside me. And in ten years, tonight will just be a night that I stopped by, on my way to somewhere else.