When I was 12 there was a boy I liked named Keith. I remember his face and the way he smelled, but I don't remember why I liked him. At the old house we had a big backyard. I got in trouble once for repeating a word I heard my dad use; I said that our backyard was as big as the whole fucking world. Memphis is a very green city, lots of trees, lots of bushes.
I remember how the bushes smelled in our backyard.
My uncle was a paranoid schizophrenic. He committed suicide the year before, put a gun to his head, and shot. My dad and I found him together. At times a sort of catatonia ensures that we survive. I was surprised, less blood than I would have thought, more brain matter.
We never talked about that day.
I liked my uncle’s craziness. It irritated everyone else and I thought that was funny. I remember when my uncle talked, it sounded like the inside of his head was "messy", like the way my bedroom looked if I forgot to put my clothes away.
I wondered if I would ever be like my uncle.
After school Keith came over to my house, and we went into the big as all the fucking world backyard and practiced fucking. I saw the inside of my uncle’s head on the bedroom wall.
I saw no reason to stay in my own backyard.
I never doodled Keith's name on my notebook covers with a heart over the "i". It wasn't that kind of relationship.
I wasn't that kind of girl.
My dad and I are a lot alike, full of Irish passion and bluster. Quick to anger, just as quick to forgive, we blow up and then blow over. My mother nurses a grudge. My dad wasn't home the day the neighbors came about me and Keith and the bushes in the backyard.
My mother reported my transgression to him like a Capo.
My dad blew up, and then blew over. Then he took me to the record store. For three months my mother spoke to me in clenched tones.
I think I've tried to live up to her expectations.
A year later we moved to another house with a small backyard and fewer bushes. At 16 it started getting loud inside my head. I wondered, if I could see the inside of my head, would it look messy.
If I could see the inside of my head, I wondered, would I be surprised.