December 23, 2011


maryland. my brother is much taller than he was this summer. my sister mostly talks about track, and it's funny to hear so much chatter about 8 x 300s, what running tights should be called (she prefers leggings), what my old coach is making them do. he's retired from everything but coaching, and only does that as a volunteer. he has a buzz cut and a glass eye. he taught at the high school for 41 years.

I have a zippy little red rental car and on thursday I find myself driving the old back roads of my youth. It's been years since I had the freedom of a car here at home; mostly I borrow my mom's truck. on a whim I turn down one road after another, not remembering where any of them lead. this was a hobby of mine the summer between junior and senior years of high school: pick a new road and drive until you come upon something you know. in that fashion I learned three ways to anywhere in a twenty mile radius. but now, when I try to remember the way to the old reservoir, I end up somewhere completely different instead.

my mother rescued five kittens from under the shed this summer. two of them remained as pets; they are identical orange cats aptly called fred and george.

this afternoon I headed out for a trail run, wearing a bright magenta shirt and an orange bandana tied around my neck to avoid being shot by the bow hunters. what can I say about running that old trail, except that I was full of breathless, unbridled joy -- so much memory, so much wildness, so much belonging -- and after cresting the one big hill, at the start of the long decline, I ran as fast as I dared on my bad knee, flying with loose hair through the oak trees, like a deer. given two good legs, I would have run all four of the trails today; it was hard to pull myself away.

two of my old girlfriends and I visit our french III teacher at the high school. my sister has him for french II, fourth period. the high school smells the same as it always did, and we all get giggly as we walk down the hall. mr. baier -- we can't bring ourselves to call him 'brett' -- treats us as old friends. we stopped being his students fifteen years ago; he drops an f-bomb and I realize he's closer in age to me than scott was. we talk horses (he and his wife own four) and he makes us do busywork: a worksheet of holiday terms to fill in. I leave mine on my sister's desk for her to cheat from, and indeed, later on that day he lets her use it, sending it home to me marked with a star. later on, the three of us walk the halls, laughing; we crash into the band room and take our photo, then discover an arts booster table where they are selling personalized sweatshirts. we each order one, asking for our old nicknames to be embroidered on the back.

tomorrow is christmas eve. in the car on the way back from hampden tonight, talking about our plans for the day, my brother informed me that I would have to take him christmas shopping. when I asked if he was joking, he grew defensive and copped an attitude, and I called him an asshole. oh, family.

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