I was driving down the interstate this afternoon in the drizzle. My exit came and went and I kept driving, zoned out. I was thinking of Boo. Just a passing memory. (I was starving and thinking of available things to eat at home. I absurdly thought I have zero ingredients to make Frito Pie so that’s out…and like magic in my brain *I brought Boo Frito Pie in the hospital when he hurt his foot. He was a kid and stepped on a nail. His foot got infected so he spent a few days in the hospital. He begged me for food that didn’t taste like hospital. So I’m massively pregnant with my last baby and making this dish with my little ones “helping”. I brought it to the hospital and Boo didn’t eat one single bite. The jerk.*)
I miss West I10, lost in memory. I’ll take the loooooog way home, I guess. But the long way happens to go right by the gravesite. I just slid across traffic and drove in among the stones, leaves, and puddles littering the ground. I’d never been and honestly had no intention of going today either. But there I was.
My tires slowly crunching the gravel as I twist and turn toward the back. One avenue looks much like the other one and soon I’m turned around and the vomit rises. I panic and want to leave. The fog slowly rolls in and the drizzle clouds my windshield. What am I doing here?
“Hey…. Are you busy? I’m um at Boo’s. I’ve never been here and I can’t find him. I’m lost in a fucking graveyard.” And it’s foggy and wet and maybe there are ghosts and fairies and monsters and I have to puke but can’t find a spot that isn’t covered by dead bodies and that’s really disrespectful to puke on a grave because then the ghosts will really be pissed and I can’t stop crying… But I don’t say all of that. Only the part about being lost. My brother very gently directs me to the right spot. “We set out some flowers. Let me know how they look. Don’t cry. It’s okay. Tell Boo I said hey”
I walk out across the lawn and my breath catches when my eyes find the stone. The ledge is covered in pennies. The carving groove is deep and smooth. The flowers Tom has placed are pretty and have weathered the freezing temperatures well. But there is a potted plant next to the stone. Or at least there was a potted plant. It’s dead and damp. The leaves are slimy and the branches are broken.
I kick the plant and allow the tears to run unchecked. I want to tell Boo about the kids. His. Mine. Tom’s. Instead the words “It’s a nice spot” tumble out of my mouth. It’s desolate and dank and he knows I’m a liar.
I think perhaps a swing in the tree could really liven up the place. I kick the dead plant again and it topples over. I’m a wretched woman and there’s nowhere to puke.
I pick up the dead plant and head back across the lawn, not caring where I step. I glance back once more hoping to leave this place with peace. Instead I feel dead inside.
I don’t know if I’ll be back ever again, or if I’ll be back tomorrow.
I want to drive to my brother’s house and tell him to make a pot of coffee. I want to ask him what his favorite color is and if he could listen to one song on repeat what would it be. I want to look at the gray in his beard and thank him for not leaving me. I dont. I drive to my mother’s house and cry on her shoulder. Her coffee tastes good.
I hand her the dead plant and my desperate soul. My brother is sparred the dramatic retelling of my visit to see Boo.
I’m a wretched woman and there’s nowhere to puke.
I drive home.