I float around. I listen these days. Tired of talking, though I will about art here, an in-law's new husband there. I'm best heard late at night. Not smashed, but edgy and witty and cruel. My brother was down a few days, and we laughed some of the night and were silent for the rest, content to enjoy each other's company.
We talked about what a dick Mom's second husband turned out to be. I contemplated the roles people play in my life. They can be pretty fucking present until they're removed. I don't know if that's maturity or the fiction of association or it's healthy independence.
We watched the kids. Their joy is healthy in apparent resistance to the disease around them. The tense avoiders of wine, the pensive faces worrying about what's coming next. The man waiting to die, who thought he'd built up so fucking much, still unwilling to admit that he's as much of a mark to the system as all the ethnic and social inferiors for whom he feels disdain.
The tension of one last Christmas in this house, the tension of one last Christmas with this family, the tension of the first Christmas without him. One more without her and her. My mother, brother, and I were like little part-Turk refugees in a WASP nest, brows furrowed when we had a moment but otherwise charming and engaged and loving toward the kids.
I keep floating after the day. Brother and mother leave and I feel trapped again. See a doctor and he talks my ear off a little about Obama and the new computer system the office has to adopt.
A week earlier, it's Dad on the phone about God and how He loves me like I love my boys (my feeble attempt to offer my own spiritual approach, because I don't have the courage or the certainty to say "Dad, I'm an atheist"). I listened then too. I regard his mythology as a lie and a comfort perfectly suited to a man who needs that comfort at his core. Let him salve his pride in that way. I won't feed it, but I'll acknowledge it and respect him however he works with it. Fuck, I work with schizophrenics. An aging Kentucky man can be pardoned a sip of Jesus to replace old tastes, can he not?
Maybe I'll be as big a loudmouth as I once was. With safe folks, I get there. But in the wide world, I've learned to shut up. I carry myself like a priest, I'll say, because I don't know how to look like a rabbi. I look more aged in the eyes than I am. People occasionally still guess I'm younger. But I seem weary. I seem patient. I seem unsurprisable, because I really can't be surprised by the outsides anymore. I've heard it all, and found it all serviceable or useful for others. But almost no truth can I pick up myself. No delusion do I want to step into. I have yet to find a hallucination that's right for me.