Mom and I looked at houses in Tyne this weekend. It was really strange to be crossing the bay bridge without Dad, like we’d packed for vacation and forgotten him. Mom seemed to feel it, too. She white-knuckled the steering wheel like she was afraid the car would careen off the edge if she relaxed for even a minute–like even the waters of the Chesapeake were trying to pull her down. I don’t think Mom needs water to help her with that.
She’s drowning already.
I did my part to help, which meant keeping my mouth firmly shut even when she started trying to pick a fight with me (hoping to deflect her feelings with a tirade on how bad a person Res is, I guess). I didn’t take the bait, just stared out the window.
First time for everything.
So, three hours passed in a car that seemed to keep shrinking on us with each mile until I could even feel Mom’s breath on my neck like she sat right behind me, instead of beside me. I stared out the window as desolate stretches of road peppered with tiny towns rolled by. With each narrow main street and its half-closed array of businesses we drove through, I prayed that town wouldn’t be the one I’d been sentenced to. And then we pulled up to the city limits of Tyne.
I don’t know exactly what to say about Tyne without sounding like the next candidate for shock therapy. Yeah, it’s small. There are no major malls or strip shopping centers like I’ve grown up around. There’s a downtown area that ends facing a harbor. There are some stores and restaurants. Only one bar that I could see. Outside of the business district are the blocks of housing–lots of them old, with big porches and pointed tops, painted in insanely bright colors. Quaint is the word I guess describes it. Or lonely. Or isolated. Past the small cluster of development there’s only cornfields and chicken farms to the north and south, a monster-sized forest at the western edge, and the river on the eastern side. It’s like someone dropped a town in the middle of nowhere, and nowhere is desperately trying to reclaim it.
I really am moving to East Hell.
On our way in we crossed a small drawbridge over the river that feeds the harbor. On our right was a sign saying, “Welcome to Tyne–we hope you enjoy your stay” (I probably won’t), and one of those bright white, manhood monuments set in a patch of grass. When we passed by that war memorial, or whatever it was, I felt (this is going to sound insane, but I warned you about that, already) like a wave washed over me, covering me in this weblike energy that screamed I’d just entered the one place I’d never been–but always needed to be.
We drove through the town and I just kept getting this increasingly jittery feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was like wrongness mixed with rightness. I knew something was off, but at the same time my body kept telling me I was home. It was as of invisible hooks in my stomach have been jerking me this way and that my whole life, pulling me towards this place, and once I finally arrived it didn’t want to let go. Of course, something like that can’t be good, or normal. So, there comes the feeling of wrongness; I’m not stupid enough to think any sudden, irrational influx of emotion is a healthy one.
The question is, what do I do about it? Mom found a house–a boring, brown thing with latticed windows. It looks like some sort of prehistoric swamp bug. There are more things wrong with it than right, but, she seems to like it, and she’s too worried about money to look for better.
And I’m stuck. Adding to the already idiotic desire to stay with Mom, I’m now faced with this new wanting to move. Leaving Tyne this morning, that was the worst. The closer we got to that obelisk, the more I wanted to scream at her to hit the brakes. I bit my tongue so hard my mouth filled with blood. And then we passed by that white, upright pencil, and it felt like my skin had been caught on it’s point, and the speeding car ripped it clean from my body.
After three hours distance from Tyne, I feel better. Only a mild twinge of anxiousness is in my stomach, now. Was it nerves? Panic? Or, something else? What do I do about it? Do I stay? Do I go with Mom, like every cell in my body seems to be pushing me to?
Do I even have a choice?