A man on public radio uses the words interchangeably. It is a mini
revelation: your mother and the man who drove her west. You were
fifteen. You knew only one word then, the other not yet synonymous.
You went south first: girls whose fathers invented such things as bras
for cars, girls who ate whole pies and returned your pants
bloodstained, girls whose mouths you never found your way inside of. A
year later you followed west. Your pants were three sizes larger and
tight in the crotch. Your mother did not care for your attitude. You
had to keep tugging and tugging.
Your mother walked around like she owned the place. You became
accustomed again to her genitalia. You danced in the living room in
the afternoons while they worked. You put in his cassettes and danced
to his songs. You wanted him to like you in spite of your loathing.
You could hear them fucking all night long.
You slept on a mattress on the floor and rode your bike to the movie
theater behind the mall. You sat through every movie twice and the
movie with the Russian ballet dancer and Ingrid Bergman's daughter you
sat through three times. You sat in air conditioning on Saturday
afternoons and read articles on dead movie stars and made color copies
to hang on your wall. You put in headphones and listened to Otis
Redding. You strapped a boombox to the back of your bike and blasted
the Fat Boys and Grandmaster Flash.
Your mother hung school pictures on the fridge. You felt slightly
better about yourself whenever you stared at his fat daughter's
On the back of a postcard addressed to your grandfather your mother
wrote: Everyone is The three of us are adjusting to the changes in our
lives…the only problems any of us have had have been self-created and
therefore easy to change.
In the ellipses your mother wrote: but we are all happy and feel very
positive about these changes.
You remember your mother finding you cowering in the corner of your bedroom.
"Why are you like this?" she said. "Why don't you want to have a good time?"
The sister of the man who drove your mother west committed suicide in
the spring and after that you moved from a two bedroom to a one
bedroom and your bike was lost in the move. You put in headphones and
listened to Ella Fitzgerald. There was no telephone and no way of
calling the police. Your mother reached her hand around, locked your
bedroom door from the inside. You put in Madonna. Gonna dress you up
with my love. You sprinted to the car in your nightgown. All over your
body. All over. All over. Your mother's nakedness still capable of
shocking. You waited in the passenger seat. You waited and waited. You
didn't learn to drive until you were twenty-two. Somewhere down the
line you were given another bike. Run DMC. Walk this Way. You blasted
it all over Ohio. You rode and you rode.