Sep 21, 2005

Things you should read, if you haven't

My grandfather had been a house painter. As a younger man, he had taken the leftover cans of paint home and used them to paint pictures. He stacked the portraits in the garage, because the combination of colors gave them a slightly nauseating effect. Skin held a discomforting undertone of the Pepto-Bismo pink that was a popular house color in 1950's Florida. The blue contained a hint of neon. His art was painted with the colors of signs and shops, not people. When he died, nobody could bring themselves to keep the pictures.

I had not yet thought to qualify a person with a number, nor had I decided what year I might like to be.

It is not the worst thing in the world to be deceived. Sometimes, when you throw my ball, you pretend to throw it one place, and then, after I have charged off, you throw it into a different place — did you think I do not know? If I wanted, I could wait you out; I could disbelieve your throws, I could fail to be surprised. But it gives me joy, and my life is short, and I am willing to be made a fool by it. Is your life so long, will you gain so much by not being deceived?

My maternal grandfather came to visit for the first time in 15 years. I drove home from work, knowing he’d have arrived and found that there was nothing, nothing that I could say. I felt that nothing that could be healed, nothing that could say, or understand in one day, after 15 years. I set up a seal against him 15 years ago, an attempt to protect my mother by not caring that my grandfather had rejected us. As if not needing him, and not missing him would help her