Sunday, January 28, 2007


I drive out there from the city with Mark in the little brown car that my mother had loaned us. We hadn’t planned this drive, but when the phone call that afternoon yielded no results I wanted to try harder, to go out there in person.

I wanted my mother to give me/us a thousand dollars, maybe two. Enough for a ticket or two to Greece. I had to get to Greece. We all did – Meredyth, Mark and me. Natvar and Ariadne were already there and when Natvar called each week he was always urging us to hurry. He said it was so beautiful there in Athens – the people were better, the food was better. We could leave our harsh life in New York City and come to Athens where everything would be better.

I knew if Natvar were making this drive he would not come home empty-handed. He could always get people to do whatever he wanted. It was miraculous. He was so scornful of me and Mark and Meredyth. He thought we were mediocre failures most of the time. If I got it right this time he would be so pleased and impressed.

My mother had just won a small court case so although my parents were otherwise penniless -- my father working for minimum wage at nights as a security guard, my mother cleaning houses – there was this little stash of cash.

I dressed up for this meeting in the most imposing clothes I had, the navy blue suit I had stolen from Arianna’s posh apartment on the Upper East Side. It fit me perfectly, the short woolen jacket and the long wide culottes. My parents had never seen me in clothes like this. They’d only seen me as a hippy in baggy yoga pants or pretty dresses for dress-up, but never in a suit.

We got there in the early evening. My father was in the living room, reading. They were living for free in a converted barn, the caretaker’s cottage of a rich estate. The place looked rich with its double-high ceiling and huge old fireplace. My mother, he said, was already in bed. I went into the little bedroom off the living room where she was sitting up in her single bed, reading.

As we spoke she got up and, still wearing her nightgown, came out into the living room. She was saying no. I was insisting. I had seen Natvar get angry a thousand times – mostly with us – but I knew how his anger was like a sharp effective knife, it cut to the truth, I thought, and got what it wanted. Natvar, I knew, was never afraid.

So I let anger come up, until I was shouting. I remember my mother shouting back, “That’s right – it’s always the parents’ fault, isn’t it? When I was your age I was giving my mother money every month, not asking for it.”

I was desperate. I had to take this all the way or give up. I spat in my mother’s face. She raised her hand to hit me, then lowered it.

My father picked up the phone and called the police. I turned on him, began to jeer at him about his drinking, something I had never mentioned before. “After this you’re going to pour yourself a drink, aren’t you,” I yelled. He ignored me, kept talking to the cop.

Mark and I went out to the car, defeated. My father walked in the receding headlights of the car as we backed out. “Don’t ever come back,” he shouted, pulling a chain across the entrance and fastening it.

No comments: