for Daniel Wallace When she was six years old, she…
after Jason Isbell’s “The Life You Choose”
It wasn’t Jack and Coke, it was Southern Comfort in Taco Bell cups full with ice, no doubt on our way to another viewing of Pulp Fiction or to Hoover Reservoir to steam windows and dream of big cities and rock stars and riot girls and whatever else it was that made sense to a seventeen-year-old girl whose heart was only half alive. I was always reading The Bell Jar, listening for that old brag of my heart but never trusting it, sure that whatever it told me to do would be wrong.
Last night was my twenty-year high school reunion. I skipped it, not even curious about how the faces I knew all those years ago have aged, because it wouldn’t be a surprise. I know what they had for breakfast this morning, thanks to the phone in my hip pocket that dings and dings and keeps my Twitter feed current. I skipped it and got drunk with people I don’t know and told them all, “I’m skipping my twenty-year reunion for this” as if that brag was meaningful. It didn’t make me feel younger.
This town I live in now doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Tucked in a valley, surrounded by rivers and foothills, not even outlet malls to help me waste an afternoon. I have a house that’s too small. I have children getting too big too quickly. I drive an hour to work. On Friday mornings, if my timing is right, I can speed alongside the Amtrak Cardinal and wish and wish and wish and remember.