minus time

…I kicked the wall outside my mother’s door, shouting for her, while Paul shouted, too, trying to drown me out, and I pushed him aside, kicking and kicking the wooden frame of the door, but I did not touch the door.

She had to open the door. We had to make her open the door. Dusk was falling, but there were no lights on except the thin yellow line that shone through the space between her door and the door frame. We sat side by side on the wooden floor until the bottoms of my hands were aching, until our shouting became a chant. Come out. Come out. Come out.

A chair lurched. She pulled open the door. “Will you stop it?” she yelled. “I can’t stand it. I had two of you so you would keep each other company.”

She pressed her hand over her mouth. The lamp shone on the desk behind her. The room was filled with the low chatter of the radio, a thick, human smell. She slid down the door frame until she was crouched in front of us again. There were white finger-shaped indentations in her cheeks….

– from Minus Time by Catherine Bush

I realized today how little faith I have in the U.S. space program, in any space program, in space programs in general. I’m trying to find reasons for all of my faithlessness. I’m trying to name it all.

The biggest reason why, at 11:37 p.m., is that we’ve so completely decimated this planet with our garbage and our baggage, that it’s been irrevocably changed. And traipsing out into the starry something seems like running away. Like when lovers say, “I need my space.” We need our space.

I realize how totally unamerican this is of me. How unpatriotic, how godless commie heathen of me, how pagan, how left-wing, bleeding-heart liberal of me. How boring, how lame. How selfish.

I can’t help it, though. As one who has needed space before. I can’t do it again. I can’t justify it again.

Just let me hold you, my lover would beg. Just let me come over and I’ll hold you, and it’ll be all right. But it just wasn’t ever all right. It wasn’t even partially all right. That I could deal with. All of a sudden I was addicted and I had to be treated with caution, with care. I hated the jokes my friend’s boyfriend would make. I hated him, then. He thought it was the funniest damn thing, he would regale me with stories of how addicted he was once, he had been there. I wanted to push him out the window.

But of course I couldn’t do that. I just had to sit there and watch him, pretend to smile (anything for my friend), nod my head, listen to the stories of his pathetic life and compare it to mine. And you know, I wasn’t that far off from being that pathetic. I had only my good graces, my social skills, saving me from that very same fate. Thank goodness.

Weeks went by and I was up with the moon, down with the sun, unhealthy and unclean, addicted. At that time, internet addiction was something only computer programmers had to worry about. I never got to enter that geek clique; I was on the outside of that one, too.

I ate so much ramen I’m surprised I can still look at the neon pink packages in the stores without the bile rising into my throat. I wanted everyone to go away and leave me alone and only care about me on my own terms. My own terms. I wanted to be loved, to be liked, for my own reasons. Reasons I wouldn’t let anyone else in on, even.

I had a hermit crab. Two, actually, but one died the winter before. Chani remained alive. She was tiny, and lived in a glass terrarium I made up with a hollowed-out log for her to crawl in, and lots of soft husk on the bottom. I was terrified of being pinched, even by those miniscule claws, so I didn’t pick her up much. When I did, I would immediately set her on the quilt on my bed before she could start to waggle her eyestalks at me. Across the quilt she would limp, sometimes stopping and retreating into her shell for hours at a time. She always seemed content, although it is very difficult to read facial expressions on hermit crabs. Chani the hermit. We were both hermits that spring, but she was much better at it. She, at least, paced herself.

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