Family anatomy

Delayed flight. They won’t know when to butcher the fatted cow. In a world of I-told-you-so’s, Connie has exclusivity. A Master’s Degree in I Know Best. Should have taken the 10:10 flight out of Dulles instead of swimming downstream to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta. Half a day out of the way, the long way around, a conscious avoidance of the collision.

Papa’s been dead for years now, and Mom is fading like a….

And then a long, extended pause. “You fill in the blanks, David. Double mastectomy, how do you think she’s fading? Like a goddamn summer sunset? You figure it out. You’re the smart one. Papa said you’d end up with your face sniffing the gutter, but you outsmarted him by thirty years. She’s asking for you. Isn’t that enough?”

Dear Connie: fuck off. I’m coming. If I have to drive dozen hours to avoid your spider eyes, then live with it. I’m coming.

And so I am.

In the airport, there’s nothing to do but wait. Delayed flight because of the weather, but it would have been the same out of Washington. So there, Connie. Put that in your bra and burn it. People walking around with a random purpose, all plugged into their phones, the new central nervous system. Yeah, flights delayed, no telling when, I’m looking at my weather ap now, and it says dot dot dot. Remember the old days, picking up a payphone, feeding it a few quarters? Yeah, still snowing. I’ll call you when I hear anything…. Now it’s a droning intimacy, plugged into the irrelevant. Pick up a quart of milk, sure, how are we for milk and gin? Round and round nothing, 24/7. Smart phones bleeding into the heart and there’s an app for that. Never mind, I’m old. I miss Cindy, I’m going home to a cracked and broken bit of nostalgia that was never that good when it was happening. Warm days on a porch wasn’t our style. Kitchen table full of newsletters and unopened envelopes from bill-collectors, that was more like it. How much of it falls to me, I don’t know. I came in during the second act, I didn’t write the script.


13 thoughts on “Family anatomy

  1. VictoryInTrouble February 26, 2015 / 5:52 pm

    “all plugged into their phones, the new central nervous system.”
    This is the most perfect description I have ever seen for this.

    Love the feel of this piece and I have felt this way toward family members, just the prickling irritation with another person who you love but maybe don’t always like.
    There is a movie that this made me think of- This Is Where I Leave You.

    Liked by 1 person

    • smbaird February 26, 2015 / 6:28 pm

      This thought has been going through my head all week and I can seem to shake it: Going back home, expecting things to be all welcoming and warm, but it isn’t. People have died in the meantime, people have changed after ___ years, and you really don’t know each other.” I feel like I’ve read something in this vein, or saw it in a movie, but I can’t peg it down. So I thought, I’ll write it myself. Very weird feeling, a complete familiarity.
      I was stuck in the Atlanta airport for several hours back in mid-October — I’m not a big traveller, so it was a very eye-opening experience. Everyone was so plugged-in, totally oblivious to everyone but their conversations. And even those didn’t seem very engaging. No animation in anyone’s face, just a bland, robotic way of killing time until their flight. And I thought, man, people wouldn’t know how to communicate with ANYONE should a satellite burn out. They wouldn’t know how to form sentences even with those they’re closest to. So I wanted to put that down, and probably more without being preachy about it. It was very surreal. And I was sitting there with my Kindle, barely reading it, just watching the world ebb and flow between flights.

      Liked by 1 person

      • VictoryInTrouble February 26, 2015 / 6:57 pm

        Yeah, I actually haven’t been home for, hmm, 8 years. wow. I’m sure a ton has changed..
        I love people watching but yeah, it’s kind of boring when everyone’s face is being illuminated by their tiny screen. It can be weird, like everyone is tuned out and jacked into this weird piece of technology. I try really hard not to be that way but I do find texting easier sometimes. I have a weird anxiety about talking on the phone and have to psyche myself up for it, lol. But in certain situations, I just find it so rude. Like out to eat and the couple next to us has one staring off into space and the other with their face in the screen. I have forbid it at the table, lol. Used to fight over it with my husband but he has come around. My kids color or talk while we wait for meals but I know sometimes people just need a break so I try not to judge. I imagine for the people who are growing up with this as the norm, it’s different and I wonder what that will mean… It’s so easy to be an asshole online.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. smbaird February 26, 2015 / 9:35 pm

    This is true. I guess I grew up in a different time. Phones were for having conversations when you couldn’t be face-to-face. I’ve got a cell phone (not a smart phone) and I use that only for emergencies or to see if Ange needs anything at the store. I’m a terrible texter (texter?) because it doesn’t feel natural. My brain is geared for typing and damned if I don’t have to hunt those little keys to form a sentence. It’s a brain block or something.
    I’ve seen couples in restaurants like that too. I mean, are they texting each other? It’s kind of funny in a weird sort of way.


    • VictoryInTrouble February 26, 2015 / 9:51 pm

      I’m not a good texter either, but I can’t type either. I mean, not how you’re supposed to. I was thrust into the world of technology because my husband’s job is very technical and he is required to be available all the time, or reachable, I guess. After years of him asking me if I wanted this or that, I relented. It does make things easier a lot. Looking stuff up, etc. Keeps little ones entertained when you’re about to lose it. But, I am not the type of person who texts everyone all the time. I think I have a small handful of text contacts and hardly ever speak to anyone like that but my husband, which is maybe a little sad,lol.
      The couples in restaurants, yeah. Most of the time I see one looking bored while the other texts or talks to someone else. So rude.
      Now there is FaceTime, hooray! (I hate it)


      • smbaird February 26, 2015 / 9:58 pm

        Ange probably spends more time using her smart phone then I ever would. She checks her email, the weather, chats with a couple of friends. I’m not opposed to it. I know that’s the technology now, so might as well utilize it. But it’s not a substitute for conversation. And here we are having a conversation on the internet. 🙂


  3. smbaird February 26, 2015 / 9:38 pm

    You said you haven’t been home in eight years? That’s about the same time as me. Eight years this August. I’m practically an American now. Eight years without a Tim’s….
    Is that by choice or circumstance?


    • VictoryInTrouble February 26, 2015 / 9:55 pm

      Eight years this Spring for me. A little of both, I guess. My sister doesn’t live there anymore so it’s easier if I go to where she is now and my mom comes there, too. Or they both come here. I do miss friends that still live there and would like to visit some old favorite places but I suspect that nothing will look the same anyway.
      I had Tim’s about 5 1/2 years ago. 😛 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • smbaird February 26, 2015 / 10:02 pm

        I guess that’s why I wrote (am writing) Family Anatomy. It’s certainly not a unique idea, but you really can’t go home again because it’s not there anymore.
        My last Tim’s was August 23, 2007. I had one before I crossed the border. (Hi, my name’s Steve and I’m a Timaholic.)


  4. VictoryInTrouble February 26, 2015 / 10:33 pm

    Yeah, that’s the thing. It’s a balance, right? I enjoy talking to you and without the internet that wouldn’t be possible, so it’s a connection for us but it can also disconnect someone from real life if they’re not careful.

    Will you have more of this story? 🙂

    Hi, Steve! 😉 I can’t believe you know the exact date but I guess you had big things going on that day. Leaving your home to move to a different country is a big deal. Many hugs for your lack of suitable coffee for so long. 🙂


    • smbaird February 26, 2015 / 11:13 pm

      It is all about balance. I suppose i like writing about things that are out of balance, something’s out of whack and it’s usually miscommunication or pride.
      Oh, I’ve adapted to the coffee just fine. Leaving was a big deal at the time, but it was one of those times when I’d probably regret it if I didn’t take a chance. Sometimes you have to say, screw it, I’m going to do this. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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