Today the aunts came by again and one of them helped me give my old lizard a salon treatment. I cut her hair, the aunt dyed it, then we washed, dried, and styled it together. I think the lizard looks extremely cute with her new haircut – it’s short and fresh with bad girl bangs. She absolutely hates it and resolved to wear a scarf over her head until it grows out. Though soon enough she forgot. Now she’s reading her prayer book out loud while sitting in her favorite chair.
Grandma inquired about my travel plans. Sometimes she’s really with it. Other times not so much. I told her I had to leave tomorrow, told her I’d go to NYC to sell my mother’s fur coats – more on that later. I told her I’d come back to see her in the summer, and that soon enough it’d be spring, and that spring is nice and she’ll like it.
“I think I’d rather be dead, though,” she said. “I’m sick of everything.”
“Hold out,” I told her. “Hold out for the big payout. You’re so close.” Apparently there’s a big cash prize the mayor’s office gives people on their hundredth birthday.
“I’m not sure I believe in it,” she said, but her eyes sparkled. “I’m not sure I want to live anymore, but the money would be nice.”
“You’re so close,” I told her. “Almost there.”
“I don’t want them to bring a television crew,” she said. “I won’t let them in.”
“They won’t give you the money if you don’t let them film you,” I said. I’m not even sure it’s true, not sure the mayor’s office does all that anymore. But we all need something to aspire to, some sizzle of anticipation. Spring, and flowers, and sitting outside in the sunshine. Summer and me coming back. And in the more distant future a major birthday with a big cash prize. And an unwelcome TV crew.
Of course I don’t really want to leave. And yet I do. Part of me wants to stay here forever to bring the old ladies sweetened milk and adjust grandma’s blanket over her hunched back. But part of me also wants to get back to life. I’ve been staying mostly inside for days. I’ve interacted mainly with women, as there is a constant stream of women coming in and out of this house. It’s like I’ve joined a convent or a coven. I kind of like it actually, but I like being in the world too.