October 9, 2020 – from the bottom of a bottle keeping contents I can’t name

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1. When I was 11 there was still a video rental store next to the Chinese restaurant where my father, enraged, had thrown his dinner plate up from the table and shattered it against the wall between where my mother and brother were sitting. Both places—the Blockbuster and the 888 Great Wall—were part of the same shopping center on the edge of a working-class neighborhood in Louisville, and though we never went back to the restaurant, my father took me and my brother to pick out a movie almost every Friday night when he had us for the weekend.

 

This was after my parents divorced. My dad started driving an SUV he filled with cigarette smoke and emptied coffee mugs that clamored around my ankles as he drove, loudly enough to be heard over whatever Rush Limbaugh was saying. My dad liked the classic rock station too. He had a big stereo in his new house, and a girlfriend, and I had a white desk under a tall window where I sat and journaled everything that happened.

 

I wrote two columns per page: one for the truth and one for how the truth made me feel.

 

2. My father’s brother’s wife wasn’t my dance teacher anymore when I finally stopped following her into those cold and dirty rooms where all we learned was how we’d never be good enough. I was out driving when I got her on the phone. Last year. The Hudson Valley. Held up by mountainsides no one could find me on. I called to ask her what was wrong with me and she said it’s that I’m an emotional alcoholic. 

 

3. Dad told me at Blockbuster that he took the $300 I had in savings because he needed it, probably for child support. / I feel happy to help!

 

4. In my new apartment I have a desk wider than my dinner table. Beautiful music is always playing. There are stacks of books and drawers solely for film and notebooks and exactly the kind of pens I like. Across the street, 47 windows glow gradients of gold and orange and still the tree leaves rustle when the wind blows. I finally ordered more pairs of warm socks, our kitten is growing into his cat suit, and the person I love has yet to let up that we can always try again tomorrow.

 

I haven’t thrown the front door open but I’m increasingly suspicious—of the never being satisfied of being here at all.

 

5. (Has my father been looking for a transcendent experience?) He always said he’d pay me back.