Brian has a jar of change in the bedroom that he says we will someday use to go to Alaska. I have a Mastercard that I say we will someday use to go to Alaska. There is a rapidly growing bulge inside my sweater that says none of us will be going to Alaska. I already know that Brian, ever the optimist will leave me a comment something to the tune of "we're going to Alaska, if it's the last thing we do. Fuck yeah."
Sometimes I wonder what Paris Hilton is doing at a particular moment. Buying really expensive shoes? Dropping in on a friend in Venice? Hooking up with a male model who won't know how to spell her name but will buy her anything she wants? I've been trying to figure luck out. How is it distributed? The good and the bad, among all seven billion people in the world?
Sometimes I still think about Red Feather. An old homeless man who lived in Alamosa, of all the miserable places one could be homeless. We gave him plenty of free coffee, and a few times I would sneak him some of the apple turnovers that couldn't be sold after four o'clock anyway. Then he got his foot in the door and started asking for more. Begging like a dog everyday. So grateful when we would oblige, so cruel when we did not. But always finding the nerve, even after condemning me to hell several times over, to come back and ask for more. One night he crashed a party at my friend's house. we were outside drinking beer on the porch when he wondered up in his familiar red hoodie and black backpack.
He wanted to know what we were laughing about. He wanted to join in with his own made-up anecdotes about his own made-up friends and family. He wanted to stand in the middle. He wanted to put his arm around us like old friends. He wanted to pretend he would be going home later like the rest of us. And when the hosts tried to wrap up the party, he wanted a place to stay. And when the hosts didn't want a creepy old man on their couch, free to steal whatever he wanted from them and put it in his backpack, he threatened to cut them up with his knife.
The desparation in that man's eyes, in his voice and shaking hands, has never left me. I remember it when my bank account dips too low and when my car insurance skyrockets due to the untimely unveiling of a one year old 16-20 over speeding ticket. I feel little tremors of that same desperation when Brian steals a fruit snack from me. It's that human instinct to get what is yours, and protect what is yours. And now that I am to be a mother that need to protect has amplified to a sometimes unreasonable degree. Now every bill in my mailbox is no longer something that I owe someone. It is someone trying to take things away fom my baby. It is someone who's after us, trying to ruin our lives.
Then there's Brian's jar of change in the bedroom. keeping me and the baby a little bit safer each time we add to it. And there's my hidden stash of fruit snacks, safely tucked away in a place Brian would never think to look. Not to be eaten, just to be there for comfort's sake...