Aunt T.

For years after she came to visit, we kept her bottle of Ocean Spray prune juice in the refrigerator. It became a science experiment. How long can we keep it in here before the bottle spontaneously combusts? Can glass decompose under the will of sheer grossness? No one would touch it.

“It’s good for you,” she’d say. My brother told me after that it makes you poop, but I didn’t believe him. Once, he said that my teddy bear was a demon. “You can see it in their soulless eyes.” You can’t trust someone after they tell you something like that. I remember the prune juice, cold and bitter, in my mouth and how it tasted like Kool-Aid gone wrong. Like maybe it once had dreams and aspirations of being delicious and yet, had decided not to.

Two hours later on the pot, six-year old me had read the entire American Girl series about Samantha and my mother thought I had fallen in. I heard my brother laughing from the room he shared with my sister. It was 14-year old laughter on the brink callousness, but still smeared with boyhood. And in the end, I didn’t mind having read so much. That summer at the Waller County Public Library, I won their reading award and received a 50 dollar savings bond for my efforts.

Titus Sardines and onions. Buttered french bread. Watching the Young and the Restless. These were a few of her favorite things.

I can still hear The Beatles on our record player. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds wafting out slow and psychedelic. If we were all sitting there, she’d hum along and my Dad, her brother, would soon follow. It reminded them of their father. Back then, I didn’t know the words, but I still tried to sing. And I would spin around, and around, and let the ruffles of my skirt flounce out. I can still hear The Beatles and her laughter.

Now, I wish I had called you more.

You.

So…What to say when you think your friend is joining a cult? Do they make a Hallmark card for this? “So, you’re joining a cult” on the outside cover, and on the inside “This is probably a bad idea unless you want to go out like Branch Davidian in Waco. Reconsider.” Hallmark should think about it.

Maybe I’m thinking of the situation in too weighty a viewpoint. Perhaps, I should think of it in the same way I would with the best friend who’s about to get the terribly unfortunate haircut. You know, the bangs on fivehead, or anything that makes them look like a uncapped mushroom? At that point, the good friend comes riding in with the cavalry and slaps the scissors from the cut-happy hairstylist, telling them to rue the day. You and the friend will then cheer and laugh over mojitos about a head unscathed. Or maybe you don’t say anything at all. Hope that it grows back. Live with guilt.

People change. Simply and embracing cliche. They change. They age. Grow. Learn. Hell, as evidenced by Michael Jackson, God bless him, you can modify yourself to look the crypt keeper if you really wanted to. I guess, in that vein, I’m wary of the notion. I fear unbridled, drastic, change. Change from the commonsensical to the non. Change so much so that you can’t recognize the person you used to play Power Rangers with. Always settling for the yellow one knowing that she wanted to be pink. Fighting over the hot green one. What say of change then? What do you do? How do you find the words when you’re terrified?

Dramatics. Flair. Emotions, aren’t my style. Ask anyone. So, with that, I’m wondering if you’ll hear me. Maybe I don’t understand enough. Maybe I don’t want to.