Wherein C.F.Barrón does his thing...

Running Errands Vol.IV

I need to do something about my hair. It's getting thicker, longer, and more unmanageable by the second. If I lived somewhere else, it probably wouldn't matter as much, but I live here, so it does. Sadly, given the casual b.s. that normal barbers sling at me, I'm relegated to visiting a salon to actually enjoy getting a haircut. This wouldn't be an issue if salons didn't charge salon prices.  It's fine, I'll hold off a little longer on the hair, but the fact of the matter is there's a birthday present I need to purchase. I'm six years old. She's explaining to me that she'll be leaving for the year. That her new school is far away and she has to move there. That college is important, and that someday I'll go there too. I don't feel okay with this. The idea of the six of us not always being together scares me. When she leaves, I cry. The sudden realization that the family won't always be together is overwhelming.  I grasp the severity of death for the first time. I realize that even if she comes back, everyone will eventually pass, and nothing I do will stop it. Not for the last time, I picture myself completely alone and the tears start all over again.

Down the steps, through the complex, and into the charcoal grey prius I affectionately call Shadowfax.

I notice that whenever Mom talks about her, she uses the words "university" and "scholarship" a lot, her voice practically dripping with pride. I write her every week. I make sure to tell her how much I miss her, and tease her about her new boyfriend, who she keeps calling her friend. I hope she can read my writing.

Find the gas pedal dude. Oh my god. Oh. My. God. I swear if you make me miss this li- SON OF BITCH.

We get to go on an airplane and visit her for Easter! The flight hurts my head. I spend the entire trip in a bit of pain because there's air trapped in my right ear, and it refuses to pop. We meet her new "friend", and he seems like a nice guy. He listens to me. I talk a lot. The trip is full of good food, fun times, and though I don't know it at the time, I'll remember it as the best Easter I ever had as a kid.

The store is air conditioned, but manages to still feel stagnant. I'm a bit at a loss in regards to what I should buy for a small child, so I take my time reading every description of every toy or gadget that seems relatively appropriate. I can feel the cashier's eyes lingering on me from time to time. I don't look like their typical clientele and my transitions still look like they're meant to hide my eyes and not like I need them to see.

Every time we visit I feel like she wants to put on a show for us. There's an unspoken pressure for us to go somewhere new or fancy or for us to be constantly entertained. I'm not sure if this is something she's shouldered on her own or if some b.s. talk with Mom or my sisters is at the heart of it. I want to tell her that she doesn't need to stress, that we'd all be happy ordering pizza and watching bad tv. But I haven't been able to talk to her since I was a kid. Lately, our only interactions are about my lackluster grades and how much of a strain I am on our parents. I tell her what I think about grades, quote Mark Twain, demand an education and not a schooling. She takes it as an insult. Asks if I think I'm better than her and our siblings. They all went through the same thing, but they still got good grades anyway. If I think I shouldn't have to do the same, then I'm just an entitled ingrate. I prepare to go nuclear. My arrogant, teenaged, brain is about to let slip that I think I'm smarter than my siblings. That Dad thinks I'm smarter than them. That my potential outstrips theirs by a mile and a half. That I am the best this family has to offer but not a damn person is trying to understand me. That every night I stay up late wishing to God that he somehow opens their eyes so that they can finally see me. The softer part of me grabs hold. The argument isn't going to go anywhere. I drop it. Like I've dropped all the rest. I don't plan on being alive long enough for the next one.

I can't quite decide between the magnetic wooden blocks and the "vaccuum" that sucks up balls and pops them out so kids can play with their dogs.

It's been a year since I took her up on her offer to stay with her. I'm just swinging by for a change of clothes. During my stay with her, I've lost a job, started a new one, acquired more debt, discovered my twin, and contemplated suicide enough to start seeing a counselor on campus. We're not exactly on speaking terms. I come and go, rarely staying the night anymore. She doesn't entirely approve of who I'm seeing. She doesn't believe it is what I know it to be. She resents me for falling apart on her. I firmly believe she has every right to.  As I dig through my pile of laundry, I realize that every article of clothing I'm wearing was a gift from a family member. The necklace my brother in law gave me. The shoes my Mom bought me. The jeans my brother fronted me for. The t shirt from Haiti that my Dad got me. The ring and socks that my sisters gave me. The watch she gifted to me on Christmas 2008. I wonder how much of it was obligation and how much was love.

I walk back into the warm California day with a set of colored magnetic blocks. I text the love of my life as I hop back into Shadowfax. I think to myself that it's been a productive day.

UncategorizedCarlos Barron