NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 60

SPRING 58 grandparents lost in my teens, ran a little pharmacy. She and my poorer father graced the “Society” page of Jet Magazine, because apparently my mother’s father drank with the Johnsons of Johnson Publishing. The clipping is the last corner I turn in the album before it is all about Marlon and me. I still can’t help but wonder and imagine what Marlon will do if he is so inclined to run his fingers across our wedding album again or if the guests who’ve stopped coming by decide to thumb through it. Will there be alarm and curiosity and concern? Will someone ask me if I am okay? Back then, in the 1960’s when my parents married, a sleeveless wedding dress and short veil was beyond the pale. She and I are in sharp contrast in other respects. She is redhead and I am brunette. She is light and I am dark like my father. She is lanky and I am round. So, the woman on the television always fit perfectly with my father’s lie. And, there is no shame in bearing a tinge of resemblance to Pam Grier. My mother’s parents refused to relinquish cassette tape recordings of her voice she made with her two sisters, my aunts, around the time she approached 35 and determined she would never forgive herself for not trying to have “at least one.” Or, so the story goes. So I am unsure if our voices sounded alike. You know when you call someone’s house and their daughter or son answers the phone, but you mistake them for the person you think you know better? How can a voice be passed on? I google Ms. Grier. I print what I find. I cut out perfect size heads of her from printouts I obsess over…when I should be writing mock case note s or reading chapters on empathy tests, right and wrong trees, trauma, processing, latent response, gaslighting, derealization, pushing the goalpost, etc…I glue-stick the little heads to my mother’s photos as if I am playing with paper dolls. Although I sense he is past the reminiscing and nostalgia phase with me, Usually, when you see yard and garage sales scattered about town it means a household is moving, divorcing, downsizing, expanding or bankrupting. My father lives off a Nipsco man’s pension. Marlon has not had a gig in six weeks, one week longer than the last time we had sex. Marlon’s parents see their jewelry business close up; they were robbed twice last year. Last time, a customer who came to pick up an engraved set of anniversary rings saw the perpetrator run out of a smashed front glass door. That was enough for them. They retire. With all this going on, and few directions to turn to, I decide to wait until things have calmed before I tell Marlon we might want to donate books to the library in order to make room for one of Hammond’s latest garage sales. The one thing I had protested about selecting this house was the yard was not big. BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 58 But there are flowers at Stella’s, waiting for me, each day and night. Even in the cold. “My sister and I really want to thank you for how you handled things for Mum,” the round-faced woman tells me. I remember her “Mum”: Irma Clarkson, from Crown Point, cathedral funeral. Her daughter has brought me a small arrangement of flowers, orchids and tiger lilies. Quid pro quo? Good manners? Mockery? She appears to be a nice lady, about my age or background or milieu or sentiment, however more bubbly. “I would have gotten them here, but I wanted to give a gift,” the lady apologizes, with her eyes crinkled and a firm maze of laugh lines around her smile. “It wouldn’t have been much of one, had you had to arrange it. And everbody’s such a picky eater these days. No dairy. No gluten. No caffeine. No nuts.” “I eat everything,” I told her. “Pig feet included.” The woman laughs. “Well, the next time somebody in my family croaks, I’ll have a better thank you gift for you than flowers.” “Stella actually trains rosebushes,” I offer. I brush my bangs aside. “She has the corner lot on her block. She makes good use of it. Smells like paradise right now and looks like it in August. She has tea parties after church out there. Her niece got married there few years ago just because of her garden. We love flowers here, why we do this.” Stella also often says: “A compliment or a joke is just invitation to lose a confidence game.” I give both to this customer, still a stranger. 3/29/15 11:41 AM