I was in upstate New York visiting schools and my brother this past weekend. The snowy landscape made me feel almost less solid, physically, yet my thoughts got heavier, like damp soil on an aging grave. So, in other words, I was still a mess.
Thursday night I went to dinner with my brother and his friend. When we got into the car, I felt like a joey crawling into a kangaroo’s pouch. Once I was snug, they hopped me away. They talked about how most of the kids at their college were probably on the social fringes in high school. That, along with the fact that his friend smelled like sugar cookies, comforted me.
Friday morning I was alone in my brother’s dorm room with his roommate. I tried to reread East of Eden for school but couldn’t focus on the words that well. My eyes were moving over the page, but mostly I just looked out the window at the students and the snow. The roommate asked me what I was reading and I told him, and added that I hated it, except for the character named Cathy. Later, though, we were out getting dinner, and my brother was like, “You loved that book.” And I was like, “I don’t know. Sort of. Maybe not.” Maybe I liked it when I was 15, but maybe I just thought I liked it, and now I don’t know how I feel. All I know is that I like Cathy—the sweet-looking blonde who is really pure evil—but I remember very little else. Maybe I feel two ways and I didn’t lie to the roommate at all.
That night, my brother held me for a long time. I was thinking about how I know what I know. So much of the information I have is misremembered fragments; so much of it will never connect. I want to see how one thing leads to another, but I usually can’t. It makes my throat feel tight.
The next day, at the airport, this security guard was asking people on the security line random questions. “WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR?!?” he yelled. I felt my mouth open. “Uhhhhh. Weeeelllllll…I think…ugh…I don’t know, maybe…no. NO!” Even after I shouted at him, he kept on prompting me to tell him. I just stuttered until what was coming out of my mouth was incomprehensible. I walked away fuming. I can’t pin anything down without half-lying or otherwise getting flustered. I honestly don’t know what my favorite ice cream flavor is, and I don’t really care. I’m sick of having to say what I do or don’t like, because either I don’t know, or I do know and it’s complicated. ♦