Thursday, March 27, 2014

Re: A Letter to a Friend

Her name's xTx, but no, it's not.

We met on the Internet first. We met in person when I saw her hair across a bar in Chicago and knew it was her. Her hair is the only part she allows in photographs. She says if I saw her in a grocery store it wouldn't even cross my mind we should be friends. The truth is I look for her everywhere now, and sometimes I think I see her for a second in other people. I've told her about every pie I've made, even the ones that didn't work. There was the one with corn and another with cantaloupe. 

She lives in L.A., and I live in Kansas City. We talk on the phone maybe twice a year. The times we hug are in cities neither of us call home. When I tell people about her, I don't say she's my friend from L.A.; I say she's my friend from the Internet.

She wrote me a letter on Saturday. I respond:

Dear _____,

Today is Thursday. You'll see Roxane. I'll see the weather change. Earlier, it was raining and thundering. Now, the sun is out and the wind is slamming screen doors. Later, tornadoes possible.

Upstairs, a dog barks, and a woman barks back at the dog.

Last night was the first meeting of our book club with our friends and neighbors. We read JENNY AND THE JAWS OF LIFE by Jincy Willett. Everyone liked the book, with one guy going so far as to say he didn't dislike any of it. The meeting was held at our house. I took great pains to make a good impression. The bathroom was scrubbed clean, but no one used it.

I'm glad your mother got to visit. My mother hasn't been out here in several years. The last in-person conversation we had regarded our burial preferences. "Cremation," she said. I nodded. "Me too." She sent me some yarn in the mail a couple weeks ago. I'm going to make her a scarf. Maybe two. The season for scarves is ending, but then again, maybe not. We got snow in May last year.

The tour of our place ends with us showing guests the spare bedroom and saying, "Shhh. A snake is listening." I bought her when Josh was at work one day. She was small and jeweled as a candy bracelet. Mostly pink then. Now, mostly white. I've seen her tie herself into knots.

You worry too much. Take your guilt and shove it!

Good luck at your reading. I want to be there.

Carry on,


Wednesday, March 12, 2014


If I saw you in Seattle, I saw you in Seattle. We hugged and you heard my stomach boil. I didn't stop eating up there. The power to climb all those hills came from meals on top of meals. No crumbs were wasted entertaining sea gulls. Please don't feed those birds anything. They're already the size of helicopters. One of them got close to my face on a pier railing, and I offered it my wallet. Empty calories!

I read some stories to people in a lounge. A pipe above me dripped on my jeans. It even rains indoors in Seattle. The wet weather got into my coat and made the button a dog chewed on last year start stinking again.

I wore my new scarf. I appeared to be wearing a neck brace. People weren't having it. They didn't say anything, but the looks! At least on the test run in Kansas City, someone on the street was helpful and said, "Are you fucking kidding me?!"

You must remember, though, that in college I knit a Superman sweater complete with cape and wore the thing out shopping. I was hopeful on the size. My roommate used to call it "chub-n-tight" when men wore a size too small. We were amorous of such men. I tried to be one myself. I see pictures now, and I don't know who I'm looking at. In the middle of that phase, Josh found me.

Two weeks ago, we took a ferry to an island near Seattle to watch rich people in their nature preserve of mansions and beaches. On one of the beaches there was a sign warning about toxic mollusks. There were illustrations of the shells to beware. I saw a million crab claws sticking out of the sand. The only whole crabs I saw where on ice in the market. I made Josh consider the water out the market windows. He said, "I wish we had windows like this at home." Water is water everywhere, I guess. Call me easy to please, but I couldn't get enough of that dark blue water. All I could say was, "Wow."

Another surprise. I've discovered the truth about my upstairs neighbors and all the noise they make. Turns out the second floor is a forest. The trees harbor wolves. When the boyfriend leaves for work every morning, the girlfriend goes about her own work cutting down each tree and burning the wood to draw out the wolves. Next comes the fighting and the canine crying. The scratching. The screaming. Folk music masks the murder. The girlfriend kills all the wolves. The boyfriend arrives home and is pleased. He and the girlfriend celebrate all night by linking arms and legs. They chew on bones and laugh. I look out the window to see if anyone has fallen on the ice. Nothing. The forest regenerates in the night.

Down here, I write. My myth about it shrinks. It's not a conversation if I know I'm talking to myself, so I pretend I'm talking to you.