May 5, 2014

My family on Earth is so good to me.

[From a letter to a friend nearly a year ago--reflections on relocation.]

I don't know where to begin.

For the past couple weeks, in particular, I keep looking around thinking, "What the fuck has happened to my life?"  The first two days back in WV I cried constantly.  My mother settled into a chair with a tall glass of wine (with ice) and a bunch of cats on her lap to watch some nameless legal show and ignored me.  It was like being 14 all over again.

I feel homesick, although for what or where I really can't say.  Most likely I just feel homesick for one of my grandparents' front porches in the early 80s, when I had seen or experienced very little of the world and when all I needed was an extra five minutes to play outside before dinner or to finally distract my grandpa from his baseball game so he would talk to me instead ("Papaw, have you ever had a mustache?  How old were you?  How long did you have it?  Would you ever have one again?").  Obviously, I can't go back there.

And that leaves me here.

My friend came to see me.  Judith.  She lived in an identical apartment above me when I lived at 3333 W. Grace Street in Richmond, VA.  23221.  I met her shortly after I moved in.  One weekend morning I was unpacking and cleaning and whatnot, and waiting for my landlord to come and unclog my kitchen sink so I could move on with my day.  Suddenly my upstairs neighbor drained the dishwater in HER sink and my kitchen began flooding.  I threw on my flowery bathrobe and ran upstairs to plead with her to please, PLEASE plug her sink!  Just for now.  Her large dog (a boxer mix named Jojo to whom I would later sing, "Jojo left his home in Tuscon, Arizona for some California grass...") came charging and barking to the door.  After some delay, she cautiously peered out through her cracked front door.  She seemed nice but a bit reserved and more than a little startled by my dramatic, breathless appearance at her front door on a Saturday morning.

When she wanted to visit me upon my unceremonious return to the area, I warned her that I was staying at my father's and he lived a little off the beaten bath.  She said adamantly, "I will find you."  And she did, thank god.  Spending a couple days with her and watching her play with my daughter made me feel normal--like my old self for awhile.

This morning at 6am I stood at my father's kitchen sink eating a half sandwich with last night's slow roasted pork and surveying the landscape, and it felt good.

I can't say much for the events that have taken place in between Judith's visit and that sandwich.

I had a job interview on Friday.  At [a local mental health facility] in Clarksburg, WV.  It is located just feet away from the old hospital in which I was born, and it was a completely baffling experience.  The two women who interviewed me were as sweet as could be and incredibly informal.  Mary Sue and Peggy.  They stared at my resume and then up at me and said, "What brings you here from San Francisco?"

Oh, ladies.  If only I could succinctly answer that question.

The were puzzled as to why I had a PhD in psychology but no license to practice therapy.  At one point, one of them asked the other, "Did you see on her resume that...." The other one cut her off:  "I read it," she said.  "I read every bit of it."

They seemed to want to try to fit me in SOMEwhere in the organization and promised to talk to their HR to see what they could offer me.  "Honey, you might not even want the job after you see the salary," Mary Sue warned.  Possibly as much as $40,000/year less than I made at my last position.

Oh, Mary Sue, I want it.

I heard them talking about me before I was even down the hall.  "She's so nice!" was the main thing I heard.

I am nice.

My mother was dogging San Francisco as a place to raise a child.  "I hear frogs outside every night!" she bragged, as if that fact alone were enough to sufficiently make her point.

"Yes, but I could count every person of color in my high school on one hand and I can still remember all their names!" I countered.  "Because there were so few of them."

"We have the Mexicans and the Orientals here now," she offered.

Yes, it's true.  And if they're not picking our produce, they've opened a restaurant.  My friend Shannon tells me there is a popular Chinese restaurant here that keeps a large bowl of Doritos on the food buffet.  And they're very popular.  And everyone still finds it hilarious to joke that the chicken is actually cat.

To be continued.  Sorry.  I didn't even bother to edit this for typos as I usually try to do.  Stream-of-consciousness.  My household is starting to wake up.  Send.