I still play that game I made up when I was a little girl. Very little. Like, in the crib little with the snow white wall paper glaring back at me little.
It’s a going to sleep game that started happening to me when I couldn't turn my brain off.
See, what I do is I get nice and wedged over on my side, then I curl my right hand over my left shoulder blade, and tilt my head down to my chest like a chicken. Then I wait for the popping sounds to happen in the middle of my neck. It kind of feels like all the extra oxygen bags that usually hang off the sides of my face are getting sucked down to my spine. Like cough medicine before a spelling test. Its good and bad.
Then I get real heavy and I start to see things. I see dark things like the close up of one of those Jackson drippy pictures, and the insides of dumpsters, and the holes in the ground. And then I also see very white things, like eggs, but not an egg on a counter, the surface of an egg stretched tight to the edges of my brain so nothing else gets in. Also ice. And the little rainbows of thread that you can see on the tops of buttons. But, I’m not choosing these pictures, no, they pop in my brain and hemorrhage, like fire works. The pictures find me, and they’re always either black or white. And I barely have to use any of my thinking, so I go to sleep.
I suppose people like us, us brain hemorrhaging people, us people who think we might be smart, buried in the sand smart, but we can’t find the clues to prove it to other people people-we’re sort of comfortable being kicked out of things, having no where to go exactly. We’re used to it. And sometimes we even look for it.
Personally I feel like a large man in the middle of a river. I love my wife, and I love my truck, and I love the edges of my kitchen table. And I’m so proud of myself, and I could tell her anything, and I do. And I always come home. But, sometimes I just have to take my tackle box down to the middle of the river and pull the mini blinds over my eye balls and think to the world I’m on vacation, but I’m not.
I stand in the middle of the river as a large man casting white strings out over the black water. And I put the girl of myself on a raft so that she can think of nothing. Nobody.
I hated that plaque on the bathroom wall. I was very familiar with that plaque on the bathroom wall on account of all the time I spent in the bathroom, primping and pruning and hating being a girl. Hating blow drying my hair and smearing concealer over my cheeks. Hours and hours. Sitting on the edge of the tub making myself look not bad. Tucking my shirt into the elastics of my underpants. Talking to myself out loud with half of my voice and standing very close to the radiator. It was a ceramic plaque from a board walk in Jersey.
The Smith Family: Jacob Gertrude Ajax Seth. Equipped with adorable water colored cartoon versions of themselves in their pajamas under their covers.
I didn’t understand why it had to hang in the bathroom that was attached to the guest room that was my room, that played my fire works at night.
My last name was Smith! His name is still on my birth certificate. The boys are my blood. But, I didn’t make the plaque. And they wondered why I told the teachers to call me something else.
One Sunday night I came home to my mom and step dad’s apartment, and there was a kitty sleeping on my bed. They had rescued him from the tree outside my window. he was a little baby, and he got scared of the rain. They gave him a bath and put a red ribbon around his neck. I was so happy. But, also sad, because I realized that my mom and step dad did things on the weekends, like save animals. I had been hoping they just laid on the floor all weekend with blankets over their heads. It is always sad to miss out. My conclusion was to love my kitty more than anything, and to call him buddy, no last name. he was all white with a black tail and black eye patch.
Now of course I loved all of the people while I was awake and eating. I still love them. But, there were so many groups of them back then, and I hadn’t yet made my raft, I didn’t quite know how to float on my back in the middle of everything. I got sad when they pulled in the extra chair from the other room. It was closer to the ground and it made me sneeze.
I get very tired when I remember all of this. The images start to fire work my brain, and I curl my body under on account of it doesn’t matter anymore. I like how cool the water is under the sky. I wouldn’t change anything because its none of my business. Those white lines that cast over the river they just land, its OK really. And my outcast roots make me a little sparkly in certain situations. Like when I wear a mini skirt to prom, or combat boots to my own wedding.
And you just sort of relax with your fireworks and your chicken-- and you thank the large man for the way that you are. And you turn everything off. And you gurgle bubbles down the side of your neck. And a million years go by. And then the one large man becomes many large men. Many many faces helping, all changing the direction of the water so that you never have to drift too far before you wash up safe.
Go home and kiss your wife.