Monday, May 21, 2012

Don't Mess with (me when I am leaving) Texas

I move very, very soon. My messy mid-packing apartment is a constant reminder of the rapidly approaching departure. Currently, we don’t know where exactly I am moving to; this includes both city and type of residence. Joe has bounced up and down and then up and then down again and then back up this season enough that we haven’t settled on what we should do about the roof over our heads. Polly says she isn’t worried about it.

We totalled up how many miles I have traveled this year thus far: 18,000 miles between January and today. The world is 24,0000 around so I am almost guaranteed to have traveled “around the world” by the end of the season. To those of you who have jobs like George Clooney in Up in the Air, you have far more patience than I. 

Can you imagine if Clooney sat next to you on a flight?
I might not get off the plane.
Oh, come on, even Joe might stay on the flight next to George!

Things I will miss about Texas:
Good Co. barbecue 
Goode Co. on Kirby
Dr. Pepper
My familyPeople saying Coke, but really meaning any carbonated beverage
Cowboy boots in a non-novelty way
The Guadalupe River. By the way, this is my first summer in 4 years to not be working at Mystic and my first summer in 16 years to realize I can't go back and work there.... or be a camper.

The Guad at Camp Mystic's Waterfront

My friends
The Galleria
My church
Finding any item of clothing you can imagine can, in fact, bear the Texas flag
I think my sister owns one of these
shirts. They have
the real thing too, if that's what you're
looking for
The Rodeo
St. Arnold’s and Shiner Light Blonde
Swimming in October
Texas Country Music

In honor of my hiatus from Texas (as if four years of college were not enough), I am going to write a few little vignettes about the Texas I know, the Texas that has been created around me and the one we so love to romanticize when we have to be away.

Water from the sprinkler turned to steam on the concrete. Everything was wet and hot. Even the cars’ hoods looked like water as the heat rippled over them.  Somewhere in the distance an ambulance drove by, its siren’s tone getting lower as it passed. Zoe played in the soil with naked Barbies. Her toddling sister slept inside, her hair curling on her forehead from the baby sweat. Later their father would come home with his dry cleaning and golf shoes. Later they would eat Kraft macaroni and cheese and drink milk from cups they bought at the circus. Zoe’s was a pink elephant. Its trunk was the handle and it had long black eyelashes. She made the Barbies do the splits and tried to make them hold handstands in the grass. One of the Barbie’s hair was brown, which meant she wasn’t really a Barbie, but Barbie’s friend Susan. Or Brenda. Some name that was not Barbie and did not have an “i” with a heart on her box. A boy rode his bike, without training wheels, down the street. Zoe wanted her baby sister to wake up so they could fill up the inflatable pool and make the Barbies, and Brenda, go skinny dipping. Zoe liked to go under the water and open her eyes. She could see the pebbles and sticks poking at the bottom of the soft plastic pool and her hair stuck to her face when she finally came out. Her mom did not like it when she put her face under. Her mother, now, was moving the sprinkler to make sure her begonias and monkey grass got enough to drink. It had been many days since she watered the plants so much of it was dead. Little brown buds fell off and ran in streams to the hot, wet street.

The second canoe was smoother than the first. The Guadalupe water was still and green before the dam and we could see turtles heads pop up and the outline of their shells. Sweat prickled on my back like the insects that landed on the water. Their legs twitched and spasmed, then they flew to another spot. Or went to the tall grass on the road side of the river. I asked West if he wanted to turn back before the dam; he said no. We didn’t talk for a while after that, just listened to the sound of our paddles dip in the water and scrape against our old metal canoes. Sometimes my Dr. Pepper cans rattled by my feet. Sometimes West was so silent I could have sworn he was a Hill Country Indian. His bandana was tied around his head and his shirt, long discarded, was tucked into the seat of his shorts over his butt. He stopped paddling and looked at me while he took a drink from his water bottle.
“You’re doing a pretty good job there,” he said to me.
“I like the river.” He smiled but didn’t say anything and went back to his silent paddling. West’s back was burning and I was sure that mine was red, too. Later we would have to take turns putting cold aloe vera on each other’s backs. West would tell me to put it on my hands first before rubbing it in. I wouldn’t say anything. And maybe he would pat my shoulder as a way of telling me he was finished. The dam was upon us. We had to pick up the canoes one at a time and walk them down. Though the water was more shallow, the river floor was clay and dipped down in tubs. West got a leech on his forearm. He pulled and flicked at it till the leech fell off.
“So do you have to suck the poison out?” I asked.
“No, that’s snakes. This will just need to be cleaned. Plus, if I was bitten by a snake, you would have to suck the poison because I would be too weak.”
“I would do that. For you.”
“I know.”
The current moved us for a while without having to paddle except to stay straight. We would need to turn around soon to make it back before dark. Or we would just stay on the river till the breeze picked up and the water turned black beneath our canoes.

They sat on top of the picnic table with their feet on the bench, just like they had done in high school. They’d eat cafeteria yogurt and talk about their days, uniform skirts tucked between their thighs as to attempt modesty. They had on jeans and boots so there was less balancing involved now. There was also no yogurt, just some beers in plastic cups and a poorly sugared funnel cake. Marcy wore a push up bra that night and it was riding up her back and she was certain one of the straps was twisted. When she got dressed she looked like a sexy cowgirl, she thought. But now, sitting next to Allison and a few hours into the night, she felt like she had tried too hard. You could tell she had tried to look like a sexy cowgirl, and what she really was was a sexy cowgirl’s overly primped friend. Allison, who did not own a push up bra, wanted to get a cinnamon roll and maybe ride the ferris wheel. They got up to find the tent with the cinnamon rolls, but there was a cluster of high school students flirting and laughing too loudly. Marcy suggested they still wait in line, but Allison said she changed her mind about the cinnamon roll and she just wanted to go sit and watch the ferris wheel and finish their beers. Marcy had wanted to finish her beer in line with the high schoolers, but followed Allison back to the picnic table that now had two Hispanic boys playing with one of the prize stuffed animals. It looked like a squid. Marcy almost made a joke about things that look like squids; she decided against it though.  They watched the boys play for a while then looked back wordlessly at the blinking lights of the ferris wheel.

1 comment:

  1. jen, you're an incredible writer!!