I am at a party where the garage door is up just a few feet and that’s where I slip out, into an alleyway that leads to a road: all cobblestones and mud. Adult trees line adult houses, which is out of place here, so close to campus. I think this must be North Street. And it is, because here is the Sad House.
That’s a projection. I mean, the house itself isn’t sad. Like, come on. It’s this white two-story with shutters. It has hedges and flags to advertise the fresh electric fence. The grass hasn’t even grown back all the way, and barriers like that don’t come cheap. Oh, I don’t mean the money. Landscapes repel sadness; electric fences contain mirth. I want to imagine buying this house, but I can’t. I can’t imagine being happy enough to afford it.
I make a mental note not to write about this moment.
I pull a pencil and a folded piece of paper from my back pocket and make a physical note that says, “Dear Sober, don’t write about house. Ever. Also, don’t show 2 strangers.”
To is the number 2, so I know I’m still pretty fucked up.
When I get to McKinley, I’m walking and then I’m not. I am stopped by a thought. I’ve had too much to think, but I write that motherfucker down.
It says, in all caps, THE MOTHERS ARE NOT THE DAUGHTERS.
Then, in lowercase, in parenthesis, it whispers, (and the daughters are not the mothers.)
Yeahgreat, lp. What the fuck does that mean.
If I ever have a daughter, and that daughter asks about drugs, like nonchalantly says, “Hey mom, what do you think about illegal substances?”
I’m going to pull this sheet of paper out of some back closet somewhere and say, “Look, Honeybunches. It’s like this.”
She won’t get it either.
We’ll sit, looking. I’ll say, “Drugs are weird.”
And I hope that will be a good parenting moment. I didn’t see a ton of good parenting moments when I was the daughter, and I’m not sure that any of us did, but I worry I won’t know how to make them when the time comes.
Also, I don’t cook much, so there’s that.
Sometimes, on nights like this, while walking back from someplace I didn’t want to be, to a home that’s only temporary, I wish McKinley Street would wrap me up in a university-redbrick hug. Because I need it. Tonight, the distance between me and the hypothetical dream daughters feels too great. The improbability of them flaps open before me like a mouth (saying cavities; saying feed me; saying Odysseus, how you ever gonna get back to a place you never left or seen to begin with?).
I want to go home. I’ve been saying that for my whole life, and I don’t know what it means, but I still mean it.
And I think it must be comforting to know you could have children by accident: have sex and goddamnit, there they are. We didn’t plan. Our lives are ruined. Voices hysterical, streaked with italics.
But all the women I’ve ever dated have wanted homes like appliances: functional, modern, sleek.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I want to live in a house I could die in, and what if the floors were wooden. And I’d gladly take fingerprints on walls in the following mediums: peanut butter, grease, watercolors, snot. I want handmade jewelry, all knots out of string. Not today. Not soon. I’m only saying: I’m itchy; I promise to want.
I’ve said that I wouldn’t, before. I’ve heard myself say what would it matter, hey I could do without. And I could, with some things.