Robin Grearson: \”New Jersey\”

New Jersey

After work that night we talked when you had to move your car for me, I went home with hours to kill and stretched packing all the way to 5 AM. I locked up my apartment and walked in the dark to Hollywood and Highland, waiting for the Red Line to the airport bus. On the platform a scrawny, disheveled man in an oversized jacket and dirty shorts approached me asking for money and promised he wasn’t trying to rob me. If he could scare me, maybe I would pay him to go away, I guess. Cancer has been ransacking my friend’s organs for eight years…stealing her dreams, her raucous cackle and her playful brattiness…and I am on my way to New Jersey to spend a couple of days watching Severance and shopping for books and belts with her and pretending I am not afraid that this is how it ends. I spoke to him from this lazy, packed-all-night center of gravity. “I know you’re not,” I said, “but can you back up? I want more space.” This felt like a continuation of our conversation where you were saying you don’t give a fuck and then I had said or maybe just thought: yeah, me neither, sometimes. I meant, also, that lately I am trying to drain the poison from things and people who have taken more than the dirty man is hoping to get out of me. After he walked away I remembered how badass not being scared can be and felt kind of fierce, for a minute. She’s only 32, by the way.

I arrived at the airport at daylight and boarded the plane ready to finally sleep, which I did for most of the flight. Somewhere maybe over western Pennsylvania I heard you saying this one thing I had forgotten until the couple sitting next to me wanted to go to the bathroom and nudged me out of a dream. “Did he really say that he has been broken his whole life?”  Your words came from the small hollow in my chest where I had swept the stunned blankness I felt the first time, and again in my seat, at how you said this. Who could hold such a prolific sorrow like it’s just another mango, dripping blood? I carried the words with me like people carry tiny dogs, taking care to keep them close and safe through nine days and four cities, wondering what to do or if I was supposed to do anything or if you just say that to everyone—and if so, if you are hoping that someday someone will do something about it — something like carry the words and sorrow all the way to New Jersey and back, wondering how you stand it and if you are okay, like, right now. Or like eating the mango straight from your hand as you watch it slide into their throat…chin to the sky, eyes closed, not afraid of you at all.


(Featured image from Good Free Photos)

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