Yesterday we went to the river.
Day before yesterday I was being a baby about it.
"I don't want to go to the river", I told my Mama. "I don't like to be on a boat. You can't walk around, you can't leave, you can't pee when you want to. Then we're going to a bar. If there's any place I want to eat and drink to excess, it's in a bar by the river."
"If it's beyond your comfort zone, you don't have to go" she said.
"It's for Hank, of course I will go."
I am a forgetful girl, and a contrary girl. Sometimes I can be a very stubborn girl, but if there's one thing I should remember, it's to trust my brother.
My brother is a genius. He taught himself to read when he was three using the Playschool play desk. I only learned how to read when he stopped being so kind as to read to me. I was seven. He told me when I was eleven that I did not feel the opposite of love when I purported to hate my first-kiss boy, that disinterest was the opposite of love. He taught me the difference between 2-D and 3-D by holding his fist beneath my nose ("THIS is 3-D") when I was five or six. He let me stay ignorant when I thought that a mini skirt was named after Minnie Mouse, and when I thought I could run as fast as the wind. When I went out of my head at college in Sarasota he let me come to him in St.Pete, he took me to vintage shops, he let me walk around in leather and wood platforms I bought there, he bought me bloodthick island juice, and he let me sleep while he wrote my gender studies paper for me. And when he wanted to go to the river for his birthday, I didn't want to go, but I went anyway.
We docked at St. Marks and ate at the Riverside where we could tie up our boat and walk up the ramp. Mama watched me with a keen eye and pointed out the steamed vegetables on the menu. I was smelling the fish and the water, that delicious river stank, and I ordered the peel-and-eat shrimp because I wanted that swamp water in my gut, and I'm glad I did. Our waitress was inept and spacey with leather skin and her lips a violent slash, I wanted to be her for a moment, but I let it pass.
With our bellies full we were all hands on deck and the river looked the other way as we slipped onto her back bone. Shrimp in my mouth and all down my hands, river in my eyes and nose, and boat hum in my ears, I finally relaxed and let it all go.
It is the river and it is June. The jungle on either side of us and at bends up ahead was full-on green, fecund and breathing. Each waterpath away from the main stream gave us glimpses of whole other worlds, adventures of sleeping girls, pirates, and horrible screaming blood sucking spiders, it made my mind go wild while the river kept my heart a steady beat. We saw turtles, we saw birds, we saw a great goddamn boat, and when Daddy climbed the bow to pick a swamp magnolia he did not fall off.
The river is not tied up in knots, it is a loosening thing. I get so twisted in my head sometimes, my face and stomach pinched, trying to work out all the end results so I won't be caught unawares. The slowly slip and glide of the water worked it's magic on me and reminded me that I am just an animal, made to smell and feel and prick up my ears. I felt no pain. We were in paradise all around, and when Daddy took the boat very fast we were flying through it. At one point I even went swimming.
And to think I didn't want to go! Sometimes I think I am quite stupid without my brother. He can make me do anything, thank god.
This week is his birthday, starting yesterday. Hank gets a whole week of birthdays, just because he can. I'm going to dredge up my old self. I'm going to rabble rouse around him. I'm going to punch him and kick him. I'm going to hug him on the neck. Maybe I will get him a goat cart for his birthday! (just kidding) (not kidding) (just kidding) Maybe I will get him nothing! He will love me anyway!
You are a very fine thing, you dastard, you bastard. You may not be thoughtful sometimes, but you are the knowingest man I ever met. Happy Fucking Birthday! I love you till the river falls off the earth, and straight on till morning.
If you want to see pictures, go over to my blog list and click on Bless Our Hearts. (Thanks for having our boy, Mama.)