The 50th

It went great. Both days went great. Everyone behaved themselves. My mom was okay healthwise. I got to meet my new baby niece, Dahlia.

My Aunt B. was so super helpful. She brought ice and helped get the food and basically just made sure everything happened.

Both Dad and Del ended up bleeding. I don’t think they had a knife fight or anything, but babies and old people are delicate and don’t pay a lot of attention to where they are in relation to sharp things.

And it was tough. I saw my best friend from junior high who was as hilarious and cool as ever. She works part-time at a grocery store in the town we grew up in.

I kind of felt like I couldn’t even talk to her about my life, because it would seem like bragging. It was hard. This person who changed my life for the better. I mean, I’m here because we were awkward and funny together and into weird, spooky shit. And I just felt like I didn’t know how to talk to her and that felt shitty.

And though my dad was on his best behavior, he was still a lot. I thought I smelled weird and I wanted to put powder or something in my shoes to see if that would help. I was also concerned because thinking I smell bad is like step one in the anxiety avalanche that leads to a panic attack.

So, I’m both trying to address the fact that I may genuinely smell weird and to sort out whether I’m about to melt down. And he says “Don’t worry, no one is going to smell your shoes. This isn’t Nashville, where everyone kisses your feet.”

And he was so mean about it that I couldn’t even take it seriously.

And, of course, he didn’t say thank you and he accused me of trying to get my mom to guilt him into paying for it (which I didn’t, and he didn’t, so?)

But he had a good time and he was mostly well-behaved and that meant a lot to me. I mean, I think he did as well as he can do.

He doesn’t like me. He loves me. I don’t doubt that. But he doesn’t like women and I’m a woman. And I feel sorry for him. And I think he knows that and resents it.

But also, he doesn’t know how to be happy, because being happy means risking being vulnerable, so I know he was as far out of his comfort zone as he could go.

It’s all complicated and stupid.

I’m glad I did it. But it didn’t fix or change anything. And all the outside validation didn’t really mean as much to me as maybe I was hoping.

But it also told me something I need to know as we move into the next stage of our lives: nothing I do, no matter how great, will be good enough. Everything my brother does, no matter how little, is extraordinary.

If I let them move here, that will grind me down into dust. Especially with the Butcher gone.

They cannot come here. If they have to live with/near someone, one of the boys is going to have to do it, because I won’t survive it.

I feel weirdly free. I tried my hardest. I did something extraordinary. I know it. Everyone there knew it. And it wasn’t enough to fix things.

So, there is nothing I can do that can fix things.

And trying will kill me, so I don’t have to try.

I love them. It’s a small thing, but it’s all I’ve got.