It’s just what’s on my mind.

I wrote this late last night, and it’s more emo than I’d like, and less literary, and more generic, I suppose, than what I usually have to say. But it’s honest. And, with the life-changing prospect of publishing my first book ahead of me, it’s what’s on my mind.

I miss my grandma. I miss her when I see sweet little old ladies in the checkout line ahead of me, and especially when they smile kindly at me. I caught a whiff of fried chicken the other day; I’m not even sure where it came from, but I was instantly transported to her kitchen as she bustled around preparing her almost-nightly fried chicken made from scratch. I miss her when I travel, because I know that she would be so proud of the fact that I made my dream of seeing the world a reality. And, as I’m preparing to publish my first novel I miss her so fucking much that it’s become a physical ache. (Having ulcers you grow accustomed to your body responding to strong emotion with bursts of physical pain; in the way that most people might expect tears when they’re sad, I expect dizziness or nausea when I’m angry, stressed, and sometimes, sad.)

I miss her faith, her intractable certainty that whatever decision I made was the right course, that I was exactly who I was supposed to be at all times, flaws and all. My decision to live with my boyfriend after graduating from college—which I just knew would be met with old-fashioned grandma judgment—was a complete non-issue. In fact, she congratulated me for maintaining my financial independence. And I can’t get it out of my head how proud she looked when I graduated from college. She was wheelchair-bound then, but made the drive from Prunedale to Los Angeles nonetheless and she beamed at me from the confines of her wheelchair.

When the truth of it is, I should have been proud of her for making college a possibility for me. It was her years laboring in fields and taking in laundry and sewing that gave my generation the opportunity to choose to study English at UCLA, and hell, even the choice to sit at home and blog at night instead of working a shift at a second job. My problems are first world problems because she starved through the depression, and saved every last penny from every last job. Every possibility, every opportunity, every stamp in my passport ties back to her. I just wish she could have known the same world I do—one in which there are near-infinite doors, all of them open or capable of being opened if you apply enough force. She did her fair share of bulldozing through barriers; back in the ’60s before it was common for a woman to have a pilot’s license (not that it’s terribly normal now) she flew in powderpuff races against other female pilots. And as I was growing up, she was the only adult I knew who read regularly, so perhaps I owe her that too.

She died when I was in Morocco, on my very first international adventure. She was sick when I left and my mom hadn’t e-mailed in me in about a week so I Googled my grandmother’s name at an Internet café in Marrakech. IMG_7215Her obituary came up. I remember the absurdity of my friend trying to mime to the Moroccans that my grandmother had died, to explain why I was suddenly crying. And I remember leaving within the next day or two for an overnight camel trip into the Sahara, how grateful I felt for the silence, a vast, foreign space in which to grieve without the inconvenience or clutter of relatives. And the guilt I felt over preferring a desert 1,700 miles from home to a wake with my own family. Before I left I asked my grandmother what she wanted me to bring her from Morocco and she said a blue dress. I never bought her the dress, mostly because I could see it becoming a tangible symbol of her absence, and that just wasn’t something I wanted to carry with me through life. Of course, you don’t need a blue dress to be reminded of someone you love. I still don’t know if I feel so strongly about Morocco because it was the first country I visited on my own dime as a passport-wielding adult, or because it’s where I said goodbye to a person whose love for me was limitless.

 

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Comments

  1. I love this post so much.

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  1. […] “It’s just what’s on my mind” June 18, […]

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