Standing on the train platform. I just missed one. Listening to countless EPs. People filter down the stairs like powdered sugar through a sifter, and sticky.
I wanted to write this by hand but my phone was already here, under my finger tips.
We over slept. I’m running late. Dave had to whisk C off to school in a flurry of waffles clean socks and brushed teeth. He had a rough day yesterday, at school. I think it’s safe to say my little prince is a problem child. No more poop issues, fingers crossed, but he laughs when he gets punished, he kicks teacher in the hallway, he hit Freddie who hit back. I have a sneaking suspicion Freddie hits first, but he’s a little guy, and no one ever sees the instigating little guy.
Someone walked by with a Starbucks in a surplus army jacket with a button reading “polite new yorker.” Aren’t we all?
Coming back on the train from grad school I’d get harassed by middle schoolers. Can’t say I miss uptown. That my anxiety is palpable enough for middle schoolers to make me the butt of middle school jokes is almost funny. My antidote is that I volunteered to teach catechism to 7th graders at my church.
Why did I do that? I can’t figure it out. I have a strong dislike of everything associated with middle school, from malicious giggles to the values in changing-bodies-changing-lives books.
My step-mom got me a copy of Our Bodies Our Selves when I was in middle school. I spent hours trying to figure out where my clitoris was.
I found it in my twenties.
When I was in middle-school my CCD class was on Thursday afternoons after school. The school bus took us right from Hanover Junior High to St. Mary’s parish. It was basically an extension of school. Melissa Lyons took the bus with me. And whether it’s true or I just thought it was true, all the kids hated me. Especially Melissa and her Denise and Julianne crew.
One Thursday on the bus Melissa said “fuck you” to me. I was thrown. This was an escalation from her usual torment. We both knew she’d crossed a line. We sat through catechism class. We read the chapters. We talked about Christ. We said the Our Father. When class was over she was picked up by her mother, I was picked up by mine.
I told my step-mom what happened and she was livid. She always stuck up for me against anyone. Teachers, principals, other horrible kids. Before I knew what was happening, I regretted telling her. I’d expected a reaction akin to the one where Tim Hall called me a slut, and she’d patiently explained what that meant, that being a middle school virgin meant that I was definitely not one, and that Tim Hall was an asshole. But this time we were back in the car. We were on our way to Melissa’s house.
We were in the Lyons’ kitchen. Melissa, her mom, and her little sister hooked up to a dialysis machine.
“Oh fuck,” I thought, “the little sister is on a dialysis machine.” I wanted to take back the telling, but I still wanted her to get in trouble. My step-mom told her mom what had happened. Her mom made Melissa apologize.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
“What else?” Asked her mom forcefully.
“I’m sorry I cursed at you.”
My step-mom wasn’t ready to let it go. Once she’s aloft on anger, she can’t let it go so fast.
“You shouldn’t a done it,” she said.
Melissa glared at me.
Her mom said “what would make you behave this way?”
The machines heaved and sighed.
That was the last time Melissa and I ever shared a word, or a glance, or willingly breathed the same air.
One EP ends, I start another. The surplus polite new yorker gets off at Union with the little field-trip of Xavarian boys. The boys are good looking. They stand tall. One day they will be as confident as their sweatshirts and ball caps and sparkling clean sneakers. Their coach, or perhaps he’s their history teacher, seems proud. He takes a group picture with a legit digital camera, not a phone. I just hope he’s not a molester, a new hang up I developed after taking the mandatory “what do you do if you suspect that one of your students is being molested” seminar last night.
We’re stuck at DeKalb. Transit workers get on. These guys wear the orange mesh, these guys tear up track, rip out wires. Take it to the end of the line, make repairs to a system still recovering from a vicious hurricane a year back.
I used always to write en route, coming back from uptown, inspired by grad school. But I would write character, story, dialogue, script. I would dig into my imagination and make stuff up. Now I dig in to find what’s real, and when there’s gaps, to merge the two. I wanna know what I’ve been thinking about all this time, what I’ve been doing there inside my consciousness.
I take notes. “Be specific. What do you want. What does that look like?”
Hey consciousness, hey EP, hey polite new yorker, Xavarian boys, park slope commuters, old woman on the stairway, strong Transit guys, any ideas? Any ideas what I want? Any ideas what that might look like?