NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 58

I turn back around, my cheek rested on my folded hands, to squeeze in a nap in the many minutes it will take him to go to the next major light and turn roundabout to our two-bedroom bungalow. “Just leave me alone.” I do not know if I am crazy, or not. I have always had the gumption and the wits. Except in business and bed, Marlon really can’t keep up with me. In business I am lazy and in bed I am anti-feminist. But at home or with our families or at old friends’ parties or anywhere else requiring little measure of materialism and intimacy, I outshine him. He always has comebacks, however. They are what have kept me coming home, having a place to be put in always. “Well, if you were feeding me French fries like you used to, before you aborted the only baby we ever really made, so you could be the reporter you never worked hard to be, then no…I wouldn’t have had to take my hand off the wheel for some damned McDonald’s.” Most often, to not only keep up with me but outrun me, he chooses the abortion. And that’s my fault. I did it to myself. To us. Neither one of us knew we would think about it for this long. 56 Right in front of our placard stating “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” Marlon lets our screen door slam in my face. BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 56 I am told I get my waning flair for domesticity from my mother. My home is stuffed. In absence of children, we have filled it with nice things and many books. I campaigned for our combined book collection to spill into part of the garage, once the bedroom and bathrooms were ruled out — for “other” things, Marlon teased, in those first few weeks over our threshold. It wasn’t so many we had read, more than the number we had been given and liked to display in hopes to read one day. We display our wedding album on the coffee table along with a Basquiat retrospective, a first edition of DuBois’s Dark Princess and a copy of Harriette Cole’s How to Be, the ultimate etiquette guide for black people. Neither of us has read it in entirety, but our guests always flip through it for pointers. Over time, the wedding album drifted to bottom, me buffing its mahogany leather cover once a season and then leaving it for others to admire. Marlon pretends to read other things, but he primarily sticks to reading The Godfather over and over again, proudly memorized in order of the scenes (or so he claims). Eventually, the number of volumes we continued to buy swelled — centered on jazz, complicated Black romances, world literature of writers whose names we couldn’t pronounce, some hopeful titles for the future kids. Finally, low steel do-it-yourself shelving in the garage is where we store tattered collections from childhood: Dr. Suesses, Maurice Sendaks, Nancy Drews, Judy Blumes, Margaret Burroughs picture books. More often than not, I return to Jackie Collins and Danielle Steel for my pounds about our Proform treadmill in the spare room. Or, when I try to do that nightstand book reading hint thing. I always nod “Oh yeeeeeah… I’ve read that,” when my girlfriends mention the latest Pulitzer Prize winner or Oprah’s Book Club pick. During The Great Lakes’ brief summers, I take Maya Angelou and Iyanla Vanzant to the sand beaches along Lake Michigan or Sandy’s Swell. These seem like books a mother would give her daughter on her birthdays and graduations, or a daughter would give on Mother’s Day. But, I live here now in the world without either one of those options: I have no mother to give to, no daughter to give it back to me, no daughter to give to. I digress often these days. When I feel especially nostalgic for my college days, I attempt to plow through Morrison, Kafka and Joyce like I will get a grade for the efforts. Inevitably, I remember the classes I had met the authors within — along with my closest friends. And, these friends have actually used their educations: teachers, editors, professors, doctors, lawyers, Wall Street and Financial District mini-tycoons. They mail out holiday cards with photo-emphases on their toddlers and dogs. They go on vacations with their mothers and children and men. They have stayed on straight, unruptured paths and kept their wits about them. Meanwhile, I have remained mostly a glorified secretary, a faded bride, an old child, a motherless child, a childless woman, in debt from one degree, in school for another. I have little to share. 3/29/15 11:41 AM