So I guess I’m trying to sort out how I got here, how we got to this point.
I know it’s not good to dwell on the past, but there are just some things about me you should know. Or maybe it’s that I need to get this all out of me before I see you.
So our parents used to be home more often and they tried to make us go to church and I hated the feeling of my trouser socks on the drive home. They were always kind of sweaty and the sun beat down on me through the window of our Mercedes S500 and sometimes, further down Horseleg Creek Road, we would see turkeys wandering the fields by the Etowah river.
We never talked about Jesus on those drives home and I never understood when people would say “I had a dream and Jesus came to me in it.” Like for instance my friend Michael said this to me when we were six years old and so did his mom one time while we were at their house having lunch or something. Jesus came to both of them in a dream in some grand way with some message of love and even then, I didn’t believe them.
My father ate it up and still believes, somehow. I bet he thinks Jesus came to him in a dream at some point, too.
Jesus never came to me in a dream. I hate him for that (and by him, I might mean both my father AND Jesus.)
By the time I was eleven years old, I think our parents realized their efforts to force that sort of religious discipline upon us were futile and then they kind of lost discipline between each other. Sunday mornings Margot would complain that her saddle oxfords hurt her feet and her tights smelled like sweat and so did my trouser socks. They stopped making us go to church and around the same time we stopped going, they started being meaner to our nanny, Hanna. They also started being meaner to each other.
We stopped doing Sunday lunch/dinner at Ryan’s or Shoney’s and we would just eat whatever, whenever. I liked to ask Hanna for meatloaf and green beans. I still miss my favorite Shoney’s server Sarah. She always gave me the best crayons and I drew her pictures of smiling stick figures holding hands and blue clouds.
One time while I was in middle school my dad was attending some movie premiere in L.A., I caught my mom snorting heroin on her vanity but I didn’t really understand what that meant for a while, just like how I didn’t understand dreams of Jesus.
But unlike Jesus, the heroin was real.
Margot started stealing mom’s pills after that and that was how I got the Valiums that I ate with Penny that day in the field.
“Reuben,” Penny had said lazily, “I feel out of place here.”