Disjointed Memoir: Stories to be included in the memoir I will most likely never write. Just the bones, without having to write the tendons to connect them all.
It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m 21 and I’m at my parents house. They are out. So is my big brother, who is home from college. The dog’s here. But he’s asleep.
My right leg is broken in two places. It’s not in a cast, but in an ace bandage to keep the swelling down. The little fang-like sets of holes where they took the staples out itch a little.
It’s six weeks since I was hit by a car, and three weeks since my grandmother died.
I know that I am not doing well.
I have graduated from crutches to the duck-head cane my brother gave me for Christmas. Later, when I get back to school, my best friend Kate will write my soul on a scrap of paper. We will stick it inside the duck’s head. I will keep that soul forever, so far.
But that winter … I spend too much time lying on my bed, listening to Mazzy Starr and not eating.
My mom has a neighbor come over to make me lunch while she’s at work. Our pastor comes over, too.
My high school friends, home from college, have taken me out a few times since they came home for the holidays. I haven’t built my strength back yet. This means I experience the strangeness of someone my own age gently carrying me across an icy front lawn, up a slick set of steps, and carefully setting me down in someone’s living room. Like a keg, but greeted with less enthusiasm.
Tonight I opt to stay home. I’m in pain, and my body feels too unweildly and uncertain to take out.
I wish My So Called Life was on, but it’s not.
The loneliness of this empty house on a Saturday night is too familiar. I was supposed to have left this place.
Everything I have done since I left home feels imagined. I don’t believe I will ever have it back. I am going to be here, unchanging forever. This winter will not end. I think about my grandmother.
I can feel myself sinking.
But then the front door opens and my brother comes in. He brings the wind and the smell of ice and cold. And life, he brings life.
We sit at the kitchen table and he rings in the New Year with me, singing made-up versions of Jane’s Addiction songs to make me laugh.
Just him, being there, means everything to me.
So Happy New Year to my big brother, and to everyone else who has shared or received a simple kindness that has changed everything.