How others live

This will be quick because I’m going out tonight. (No, not on a date — you must not know me. The guy better be pretty special to have a chance with me. Like, he worships me and loves me and meets all thirty-five of the requirements hidden away in a secret desk drawer special.)

Beth and I had a good lunch the other day. I’m glad she can keep the conversation going, because I’m out of practice. I never really knew how to talk with people. My friends, sure, but you skip through all the formalities with friends. You’re not trying to be polite.

The nice thing with Beth is that she talks a lot, and I can just listen and smile. And she’s really interesting. Not like “This wine reminds me of the time I spent in India. Did I ever tell you about my time in India?” snooty interesting. It’s like when my dad used to take me to work with him. He works at a power equipment store, and if you stay quiet and listen, you hear all kinds of stories, stories about drain snakes gone wrong, about men using shotguns to drill holes in the ceiling, about trenchers hitting gas lines and being engulfed in balls of flame. All true. I saw a photo of the last.

It’s like when my dad watches “Dirty Jobs,” and I sit there fascinated, thinking, People really do these things? I want grit. I think I’m starving for reality, something hard and stark. I don’t want ideas and plans and dreams, not right now. I have an overabundance of them. I want real life. I want to dive in.

Beth’s there. It’s been horrible it sounds like, but she seems happy. I mean, her half-brother’s in Afganistan, her dad’s in another state, her mom holds one job at a liquor store and another at Wal-mart. She talks about it like it’s no big deal, and I keep wondering, Do people really live like this?

Which only means I’m a naive little girl. And I know that. Maybe we can teach each other something. She seems to enjoy having me around, and I feel excited for the first time in awhile. I mean, I’ve been looking forward to this evening since lunch on Wednesday. We’re going to see a movie. We don’t know what. We’ll just pick something. Jordan’s working, so it’s just me and her.

And, for better or worse, she’s normal, whatever normal is. At least, she’s more normal than I am.

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