The kind you’re born with, the kind you choose, the kind that teach Catholic school
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After graduation, after a divorce, after an election
I read all the literature hospice brought: Give the gift of comfort and calm. Give them support, permission. Give them more than they gave you.
When he tired of talking, he’d slap a red, hand-shaped conclusion to the quarrel onto my face, pressing his brand upon me, the mark that labeled me as his.
It was the first Friday of spring break, 1984, when I climbed into the bed of Greg’s compact truck, leaned back against the cab, and watched the keg party fade into the distance as we drove away.
I take the test, grade myself strictly, and add up the points. The result is that I’m likely an alcoholic and should seek treatment as soon as possible. I take the test again and grade myself more forgivingly, because forgiveness is a virtue.
This man could have been my rapist, but he looked too nice. He had thick, wavy hair, like a movie star from the seventies, and a jawbone that could take out your eye. I hung my feet over the edge of the roof and let myself slide into his arms.
While my father was stationed in Germany and dating my mother, he wrote her a letter saying, “Someday I’d like to have twins with blond hair and blue eyes.” Twenty-seven years later, here I am, one of his identical blond-haired, blue-eyed twin girls.
I was lucky. I didn’t have a physical dependency on alcohol. I just drank to be like everyone else at the party. Faced with a choice between dying young in a tangle of smashed things or pulling it together to have a regular life, I chose the regular life. I traded living on the edge for just living.