Thursday, October 29, 2009

Durable Goods

From Singles 2009

The packing boxes come. I like this part, seeing ordinary things get wrapped like presents, get taken from your sight until they reappear at the new place. You can count of some fragile things being broken; always when we moved, my mother cried a little when she found the shattered china cup, the arm off the porcelain ballerina. "Why do you keep buying that stuff?" my father would ask. "Buy durable goods; that's what's going to make it."

Remember Katie? from "Joy School"? This is the first of her stories. Her mother has died. She's living still in Texas with her dad, her sister Diane, and her best friend, Cherylanne. But, no one is as nice as you might hope for Katie or as nice as Katie seems to remember them in "Joy School". Her father is abusive both physically and verbally and Katie is always walking on egg shells trying to wear her face and modulate her voice absolutely correctly to avoid his wrath. She hides under her bed to avoid him and to commune with her mother. Diane is weeks away from graduating from high school, stealing away to be with Dickie, and she is finished with being controlled by her father. Cherylanne, while at times generous and warm, is largely self centered. There is no real oasis of acceptance and love in this book.

So, despite Katie's palpable pain and loss in "Joy Club", I wanted to whisper to her over and over, that things will get better. That move you resent and fear will surprise you.

Much to learn.

I hear the inviting rattle of glasses, smell the hamburger. And now there is my father's voice, his hand lightly touching my arm. "Hey, wake up," he is saying. "Everything is here."

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