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Very Beautiful Women: Dana Jerman & Summer Robinson.

December 15, 2011 \am\31 10:00 am

[This week I’m posting lovely disparate somethings by the female writers featured in Pangur Ban Party’s multimedia e-book, Very Beautiful Women, of which I was a grateful tiny part. Happy 3rd birthday, Pangur Ban Party! —Ani]

Re: Summer Robinson’s The Uncertainty
2 Days & 15 Cigarettes, A Memoirfiction by Dana Jerman

Tonight some orange, deep yet faded, comes over the tree line. Makes the drive look toward dawn.

The house I grew up in, in my imaginary life, has lots of windows. It is a white house with black shutters on a street named something like Edgewood. Not a big house, but not small either. Nooks in the rafters indicating attic space and a long wide sunporch. There is a park nearby. And sidewalks.

Tonight, at home, pulling off jeans in the bathroom. Surveying thighs for cellulite- for age’s slow creepy-creep up.

In my imaginary life it is summer and my father has just brought my brother and I back from somewhere with a beach. He travels for work and takes short vacations just with us so he can have our undivided attention. He gets it but not because he spoils us; we never ask for anything we know we can’t get.

Tonight, leave a note for dad. Get dad to wake you up in the morning. Really: Daddy, come upstairs and shake me by the shoulders. Pull the covers off and throw the pillows on the floor…
He’s been really nice lately; might be because he split with mom. What must it be like loving one person forever. Forever like coastline- miles of land and stability forever threatened by the tempest sea forever.
…Pull my body instead forever from the sand of sleep. Back to the cradled edge and the inner silence of waves big and thrashing forever. Do not wait until the sun is kissing at the shape of my knees and hair.

Then, here in this imaginary life, my mom enjoys the quiet weekends. She slips jeans up over her slim hips and patters barefoot to the porch with a single cigarette and a lighter in one hand. Looking out into the yard and street until the butt gets low and the sun gets high. She props it between her pout for the last long drag while she treads thru the still damp grass to bring our big wheel trikes in from the lawn.
She pays some bills and finishes painting the birdhouse she built. She starts a book and cleans out the space under the kitchen sink. Drinks a beer, slowly. Orders pizza, puts some photos in an album and finds a sweater she’d been looking for under my bed.
When we come home she’s done something innocent and/or beautiful that she’s never done before, like put a little chocolate candy on each of our pillows, or put up red Christmas lights in the bathroom, just because.

You know, it doesn’t look like my dad slept here last night. I wonder how much of it is a desire to wake up, not necessarily next to someone, but in their presence. Anticipating morning at the sound of their movements, deliberate in the work routine. Beside the smell of coffee and toast toasting.

In that same way, morning can be an ugly time. You want to sleep in but the other person needs space. When its your space, provided that you like the person you feel all accommodating. Things like “can I get you some orange juice?” and “oh my gosh, use the shower, stay as long as you want.” come out all fluttery, silly.

Then the other person insists on getting back and there’s the morning breath kiss and the cold car and the drive on bare roads filled with ad radio you won’t turn down. And just how many times in your fifties is one supposed to undertake this sad-and-lonely-twenties routine?

Ok, now I’m back from a weekend at the points. Two days and fifteen cigarettes at my ex-Walden.
It’s late.
Bags still packed crowd the corner. Not hungry.

Train sound escapes into the last dusk. (God, the old town is still here. Will it ever give up?)

June thirty. Right on time it smells of a burnt made by fireworks and a rainless month.

Tonight I take that regular walk. Rub the sixteenth cherry into a patch of clover ’til it’s all out of hot and tuck the butt into my 5th pocket. Usually I feel… better… at life when I’m home.

The creepiest guy on the imaginary life’s imaginary block is just a pair of old sideburns and a cigarette walking his bicycle in the road half shaded by massive elms. Overalls, baseball cap and dirty whites passing over Italian flesh.
He’s O’ing smoke out a curled mouth. Thinking on French women with short cuts of hair and painted lips in pulp novels and backroom theater shows coming across black and white.
From the house painting job to the stock room at the beer store, Old Sideburns haunts the landscape of a town that never changes.
He is a piece of pizza or broken bottle from time to time when he is not cigarette and bicycle. The spilled paint on the concrete steps out back on break time, or the occasional college girl in heels using the alley as thoroughfare while he squints into the setting sun.

Tonight recent real memory re-occurs thus:
On the way home from work a couple Thursdays ago I saw a 19 year-old boy walking with a cane and not easily. I imagined the bulky armor of his fat youth at boot camp before the living war came to thin him, devour him.

This is followed by a recollection of my own being 19. Putting vodka into my OJ in plain site of my mother. She was on the phone, and casual as she picked up my glass, sniffed, and poured the contents slowly into the kitchen sink.

These imaginary life parents- they can’t get enough of each other and they don’t split up. My mother stops my father in the kitchen as he cuts zucchini for dinner. They think just because brother and I are not in the room that we are not paying attention. Inserting herself, my mother shimmies her ass up on the counter. She reaches for my fathers face. Kissing. Kissing him longingly and open-mouthed. Making out, like they probably do at parties when we really aren’t around. My father’s hand moves across the back of my mother’s waist and he melts into her, forgetting everything.

Tonight I do not want to go home, be home, with this feeling- like a woman who wants to ruin her apartment by fire or water or some other elemental means after years of paying rent on time. I feel threatened with my own eviction. The worst kind of exile is always self-imposed.

But tonight, I go on and unpack, thinking that I didn’t meet enough women in college. Thinking, maybe, I must just be horny.

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One Comment
  1. December 15, 2011 \pm\31 8:13 pm 8:13 pm

    This is really nice. Thank you Dana. I think we all have imaginary homes we can return to. We seem to have a need for them. Thanks for sharing yours.

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