When I’m sitting on my porch, and it’s about to be dark, and I’m staring at my garden which should have little sprouting flowers in it instead of bottle caps, Bic pens, and cigarette wrappers, I feel like I could be really good at basketball. I start thinking how the net’s not really all that high up, relatively, and no matter where the mysterious three-point shot area might be, it can’t be THAT far away, right? I could play HORSE with the really tough neighborhood pre-pubescents and they’d think me a mentor, and a real friend. I start thinking I can run around the court for more than three minutes without wheezing, and that I might be graceful this time.
When I’m taking a shower and singing that one Alana Davis song and surveying the bundle of bones and skin and fat I’m washing or shaving or rinsing that only I am required to look at every day, I feel like it’d be so easy to get in shape. It’s no one’s fault but mine that my attractiveness has steadily declined and now it’s completed its frantic surge to the floor, where it’s bundled up around my ankles where my cankles will be once I let it get that far. I’ve got the treadmill that I won in my parents’ divorce, and I’m the proud owner of a Netflix subscription complete with free streaming workout videos, and if I would only walk to my two jobs, because I’m not really that far away, I could do it. I could tone myself and lose ten, even five pounds, and I’d notice.
When I’m running over to my nephew in attack mode, and he’s about to be crushed by whatever monster or burglar or creature I’m portraying at that moment, and then I catch him and scream and he grabs my face and giggles and emits a bunch of bullshit junk sounds that I decide must be my name, I feel like I could be a mother. Or maybe not a mother, but a mom. I have so faithfully documented my entire life in blogs and cell phone pictures and Facebook posts, and I did it all for my non-existent child. Maybe my kid would be like I was with my mom, memorizing what Clinique compacts she kept in her bathroom drawer, watching her cook with the sinking feeling I would never quite figure it out, hating words like “youngster” for no other reason than that she hated them, feeling a hunger for proof that she was ever a kid, old yearbook photos, college roommates’ testimonials, anything. There has to be someone in the world for everyone, someone who only responds to your touch, and will only answer to your voice, and will adopt your thoughts and opinions because if YOU said it or thought it, it must be true because no one else exists in the world.
When I’m bartending, and it’s a busy night, and I’m watching invisible walls construct themselves and implode between every interacting person, boys failing to notice endearing sweater removal or what drink she just finished, girls positioning themselves only under the red LEDs and checking their lipstick in the strategically placed mirrors (you’re welcome), and I see what guys’ girlfriends ACTUALLY say when their boyfriends send them an unwelcome text, and I hear what boys ACTUALLY think about the second the perfect girl walks away, I feel like I could be a pretty great wife. I wouldn’t be snarky or jealous, and whoever I marry would be super proud to show me off because my hair would never be frizzy, I wouldn’t have ten extra pounds, I’ll be a great cook and a great mom, and I am very good at basketball.
When I realize I can no longer distinguish the difference between my lawn and the fourth step up to the porch, and the fifteen-foot trek to my car might again result in the discovery of five socks, a bag of Oreos, the headphones I lost last month, and a fifty dollar bill, and I finally find my car and I’m on the way to Harris Teeter for some more cookies, and I’m stopped at that one red light that forces me to look at the Carrboro Tent City and Community Garden, I feel like I could be a real good lawn-mower. Even though the gas cap on my mower pops off every time I round a corner and one of the really important screws that holds the handle to the rest of the mower is completely rusted out so that I almost fall into the blades every time I have to mow around a tree, I feel like today will be the day I conquer this stupid machine and figure out how to groom my lawn with it much like men learn to grocery shop after losing a leg or the way women learn to look in the mirror again years after childbirth.
Truth is, I don’t even know how to PLAY basketball, and I’m about as graceful as Robert Smith with no lipstick.
Truth is, I eat like shit and I really like Havarti Cheese and croissants, and I’ll never be small again because I have absolutely zero self-discipline.
Truth is, what haunts me is that at my mom’s funeral, my eulogy will clock in at over four hours long, and everyone will be bored because they won’t understand. And the truth is, it is a fact that no one will ever sit at a computer and write that sentence about me.
Truth is, no one I know believes in marriage anymore.
But I really like mowing the lawn. And I do it every single week, even though I know my neighbors laugh at me. And I admire my handiwork even though there’s always little tufts of grass poking up where they shouldn’t be, and shit, I mowed over the pre-existing azalea again, and yes I know that was the hatchet I hit that caused the mower to shed three pieces of unidentified metal, and why do we even OWN a hatchet?? And it’s one of the most rewarding things I get to do. And really, I’m pretty sure I’m getting better.