Friday, March 23, 2012

Evelyn

I spent the morning with my grandma.

7,000 boys went down with the Arizona, she said. Your grandfather wanted me to see it. To see my reaction, she said. That was the first time I went to Hawaii. I didn't want to go, she said.

Darjeeling, India. That was the best trip of my life. We spent five weeks crossing India, she said. Your grandfather was very good to me, knew I loved the mountains, knew I wanted to be near the Himalayas. We had no itinerary. At every stop, we asked at the hotel where we should go next, and we went there. The people were so nice, so beautiful.

The train in Darjeeling Limited comes to mind. The image of my nearly Gothic Victorian grandmother in a hat and pearls, her white-white hands clutching the railing as their 1st class car rocks back and forth. Tea. There would have been tea.

The best I've ever had, she said.

Was he deployed during the war, I said. What war? My dear, there have been so many wars since I was a little girl, she said.

Korean, she said then. For two years he went back and forth to Hawaii. I didn't see him shed any tears when he had to leave, she said. I had a baby each time he left.

You can't shake my faith, she said. I've known what was true all my life, it just took time to find others who did too.

I hope someday I'll see more of you, she said. You know you can always stop working. You chose to start and you can choose to stop, she said.

I can't, grandma. I have to work. I would just have to do something else, and I would be even busier.

Not even if you were very careful? she said.

Not even then, grandma. Not unless I very carefully turned back the clock, married a big sailor, had a mess of kids, and hopped trains across India. Had daughters with issues and granddaughters with questions. Not unless I was you.

But I will take you to the Himalayan restaurant. And I won't cringe when you tell the polite waiter about Darjeeling, how good the tea was, how much your husband loved it there. I won't cringe at all. I'll let you be you since you love me.

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