7 Days

 Today, snow. Enough to turn the driveway to slush, to coat the sidewalk and dust the cars, the trees, and rooftops.  On my daily trek to 7-11 for my morning Big Gulp it’s all the cashier can talk about. Officially it’s spring, but the Pacific Northwest hasn’t gotten the memo.

In New York Carlos is in short sleeves with all the windows open.

This time next week I’ll be living there.  With him.

Not just him.

We’ll be staying in Queens with his frequently absent, flight attendant friend, two cats, and a mysterious actor who left his wife for an abusive, Asian woman.  At least until we have jobs and an apartment of our own.  It’s far from ideal, but after a year in redneck, suburban hell, it seems like a dream.

Still, I’m in a constant state of panic.  I wake up in the middle of the night, my mind racing, and find it impossible to go back to sleep.  My big fear isn’t so much that I won’t be able to find a job quickly.  It’s that will find a job, and it will corrode my soul and make me long for death.

There are precedents.

I’ve been spoiled by my current job that lets me work from home, is completely devoid of stress, and pays fairly well.  I fear that the days of pajamas, irresponsible hygiene, and all day horror movie marathons will soon be replaced with button up shirts, cubicles, and long commutes.  Even though I’m not incredibly attached to the job, it’s much harder, I’m discovering, to irresponsibly quit and uproot my life now that I’m in my 30s than it was in my 20s.

Also stressful is the fact that I’ve never even been to New York (having glimpsed it only once from the Newark, NJ airport).  Carlos will be the only thing familiar.  I feel like once I see him, I’ll be fine.  The panic will subside.

Until then I make lists of things that need to be accomplished before I leave.  Finishing up work.  Having Salvation Army pick up my furniture for donation.  Packing.  Cleaning.  Nothing gets crossed out, and instead I watch episodes of MonsterQuest on Netflix and binge eat.

Another thing I keep putting off is telling my mother that I’m moving.  Every time we talk I set out to tell her, but then I always find a reason to put it off.  Today, for instance, she was trying to help my cousin retrieve my grandmother’s hearing aid which had accidentally fallen down the drain in the kitchen.  She was stressed and busy, so it didn’t seem like the best time.

She makes such a big deal out of the smallest things that I’m afraid telling her I’m moving to New York could result in an aneurysm.  She’s terrified of cities, and New York, I imagine is her greatest nightmare.  Full of everything she’s afraid of.  Terrorists.  Dope heads.  Devil worshippers.  “There’s so much meanness in the world.”  She says.  Frequently.

Carlos suggests just not telling her at all.  “It’s not like she’ll ever visit.”  He says.  Which is true enough.  I just don’t want it to be a surprise to her if my plane crashes somewhere over Kansas, and they notify my next of kin.

So I add “tell mom” to my list of things that don’t get crossed out.

7 days.  Less now.  I’m mostly more excited than terrified. New York is the city of my dreams.  I never had the courage to go before now. Imagine Carlos and I on the subway.  Shopping in Soho.  Sitting in an art cafe in Williamsburg.  The two of us on a bubble bath Sunday morning.  Holding hands in Central Park.  Cozy in a tiny apartment 7 flights up.  Living the life I’ve always dreamed of, if not exactly the way that I dreamed it.  But better. Because it’s real.  In seven short days.


When I was seven or eight, I became convinced that I was adopted.

We lived out in the country with our nearest neighbors about a mile away.  Life was slow, and still, and quiet.  Needless to say, I was discontent.

My dad, a hunter, would be out in the pasture with his pick up truck running, an AM radio station tuned to a ball game with a deer strung up on a tree that he was skinning, a bucket beneath it to catch the blood.  (I once picketed his hunting with handmade signs saying “Don’t Kill Bambi!”)

My mom, then a stay at home mom, would be in the kitchen reading a Harlequin Romance novel with a Diet Pepsi and a Little Debbie brownie.

Then there was me.  A city boy trapped in a country boy’s body.  With my Cyndi Lauper and Prince albums.  My science fiction novels.  My strange obsession with Vincent Van Gogh.  I longed for symphonies and art exhibits.  For skyscrapers and the hustle of pedestrians.  For theater and exotic food.

What I got was Volunteer Fire Department fish fries.  Pigs and county fairs.  Barns and mud.  The annual Hay Day.

My first thought was that I’d been switched at birth.  But after casually fishing for information from my mother, it was revealed that the only other baby in the small hospital at the time I was born was a girl.

So one night when my father was watching TV in his recliner, and my mother was in her bedroom, rubbing lotion onto her legs in a ratty bathrobe with a towel wrapped around her hair, I went into her room and asked her the question that had been plaguing me.

“Am I adopted?”  She looked up from what she was doing, surprised.  I went on to add, “It’s okay if I am.  I can totally handle the truth.”

She pondered this for a moment before answering.  “Yes.  You’re adopted.  Here are your adoption papers.”

As she reached into the metal filing cabinet where she kept all of her important papers, I was beaming.  A ridiculous grin stretched across my face.  All of my suspicions were confirmed.  And now I’d be able to be reunited with my real family!

Then she handed me my birth certificate.  Clearly showing her name, and my father’s name as my biological parents.  My grin disapeared.  I was crestfallen.  My smalltown country legacy was inescapable.

But the question remained.  If I wasn’t adopted, where did I come from?  How did my simple, working class, country loving parents manage to have a sensitive, artistic, city loving son?

The only possible answer?