It All Goes
I arrive ten minutes late so that I won't have to interact with anyone, because I'm afraid if I open my mouth to speak, I will start howling. I skip the shitty black coffee and the styrofoam cup because sometimes I worry they will give me cancer. Other times I think cancer is the least of my worries.
People are already sharing.
L bares her heart about her adult son, who has left his wife and kids with no car, no cellphone, no extra clothing--just walked off in the middle of the night. The old "went out for cigarettes" jam.
J tells us jovially that he has been diagnosed with "memory loss" and after a few rambling moments, smiles and spreads his hands and stops speaking in mid-sentence. He's forgotten what else it was he was going to say. We all thank him for speaking, anyway.
P is dressed entirely in black because maybe he believes he is Johnny Cash. He says, in his deep Johnny Cash voice, that he has been thinking a lot lately about his dead wife, although she is thirty-some years gone and he is married these many years, with grown children. The holidays are strange that way. They bring up ghosts.
K makes a sudden and theatrical entrance, a half-hour late, in sweater and scarf and sunglasses, her walker preceding her like the prostrating subject of an empress. She shoos several hapless fuckers off the couch--they flee like birds from a wire--and settles herself there, snorting grandly.
Somebody's cellphone pings into the silence and somebody else glares.
I take a shaking breath. I say, without howling, "I think I'm learning about things coming and things going. That they do. Come and go. Also, I don't really like this planet anymore." And the eyes of the group rest on me. K removes her sunglasses. Nobody laughs, or pulls the "she's batshit" face, or makes any judgments. When I have finished, they thank me and move on.
J comes comes up to me after, he of the lost memories, he of the Buddha belly. His long, once-powerful arms enfold me, choke me against his shoulder. He chuckles and says softly, spitting a little into my ear, "Oh dear. It goes, it all goes. It's alright."