I wanted to take this eighth day of Danzania to clear up a few things in regards to my Five Golden Rings post. So many people have commented, both publicly and privately, in response to my cousin’s nine-step plan for my life. Or was it 8 steps? I’m inclined to consolidate “get some real skills” and “grow up” into one step. Then again, I’m lazy.
I haven’t seen or spoken to my cousin in five years — ironically enough, the last time was at his wedding on Mackinaw Island, where I was asked to bear witness to his law-abiding love by reading the Kevin Young poem “Epithalamion.” An excerpt:
& I will be born
from your arm —
a thing eagled, open,
above the unsettled,
I never beat up my cousin as a kid, or forced him to sing Fred Schneider’s part in “Love Shack” at karaoke. I always thought he was pretty cool. We could sit in silence with the understanding that we come from caring (albeit slightly crazy) stock, and whether he knew it or not, I envied his ability to draw. He was an incredible caricaturist.
My best memory of us — and no, it isn’t the time we reconnected on a blog — is after my granddaddy Jack died. I was in third grade. My father picked me up early from Kristy’s ice skating birthday party and told me in the car that we had to drive to the Outer Banks to be with my mother. I had never lost someone before or been to a funeral. My cousin was there, in my granddaddy’s house. He played a Milton Bradley board game with me called Ghosts.
The game pieces glowed in the dark, and as an eight year old, sitting across from my own blood, afraid of the afterlife, lights out, moving death around on a square board, I was able to innocently cope with loss and mourn a man I would never get the chance to know. For me it became a Wordsworthian Spot of Time:
There are in our existence spots of time,
That with distinct pre-eminence retain
A renovating virtue, whence–depressed
By false opinion and contentious thought,
Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight,
In trivial occupations, and the round
Of ordinary intercourse–our minds
Are nourished and invisibly repaired;
A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,
That penetrates, enables us to mount,
When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.
I was deeply wounded by my cousin’s remarks — I almost changed my blog name to Crybecca for the afternoon — but soon realized I am not the same vulnerable, acquiescent girl who used to apologize to commuters who jostled me in Times Square. It’s incredible when you can validate your own choices.
Readers, I am moving to the midwest, land of serial killers and high fructose corn syrup, of three-inch thick ice, of high winds. Of Carl Sandburg. Of cows! I couldn’t be happier.
Which brings me to this: there’s a popular adage that a man needn’t buy the cow when he can get the milk for free. Such an old-fashioned dairy tale sells both parties short: men are portrayed as sex-starved itinerant farmers, women as output. Above all else I value my agency. True, I can’t say that Dan and I will be together forever, but perhaps I won’t be the one doing the disappointing. We live in 2008, when a woman has the option of leaving a man knee-deep in corn. I happen to think quite a few of the gentlemen in Jane Austen novels behave like idiots. I am not afraid to be alone and I am not afraid to start over. It’s my milk.
I love Dan and he loves me. We have “real meaning” and are committed to building, mending, repairing, and might I add teaching and creating, as a team. (Of course he’s a bit like Snuffleupagus right now, on Safari and invisible to most everyone, so you’ll just have to take my egocentric word for it.) And if it’s true that without a marriage certificate Dan can leave me at the drop of a high Warcraft Score, because I have stopped being entertaining, then by all means, allow me to be the first to encourage him to do so. I would leave him if he stopped being kind. Or supportive. Or off-color. Or entertaining. Because that’s the man I fell in love with, and while some things may change — say, for example, Dan gets his toes chewed off by a lion in Tanzania — personality and character are non-negotiable. Becca will always be entertaining, even through Iowa dysphoria, even through the fight she and Dan will have when Dan eats the last of the bacon and the house still smells of it. Otherwise, that’s not Becca. (Snunshine feels the same
fucking way and is encouraging us to write Moving-In-Together Vows. Also, he says Dan would be more entertaining with no toes.)
It’s unfortunate that my cousin, though perhaps truly concerned for my journey to the center of the cold grey gloom, couldn’t bother to ask rather than assume. Will I lose contacts once I move to the midwest? (Nope. My Poet is keeping me on part-time.) Am I scared? (Yes and No. I did wake up this morning and freak out a little because I couldn’t find Iowa on the map, but Dan is my partner, and we’re ready to try.) But you don’t know a soul out there, Becca! (Not true — two of my best friends from Georgia are waiting with pizza and beer the moment I pull-in.) Are you self-centered? (Sometimes. I am an only child. One might think it’s self-centered to have a blog named after yourself, but I’d love to talk with you more about the genre of personal memoir and creative non-fiction. Have you read David Sedaris? Maybe start with this interview to better understand where I’m coming from, what I struggle with as a humor writer.) Do you knock your parents? (Only when they email me JPEGs of albino squirrels. And only because I’m jealous. I love and respect my parents enough to disagree with them.) Are you self-effacing? (I’m sorry…I just don’t feel good enough about myself to answer that question…) Would you and Dan ever like to drive to Michigan to visit us? (Sure. That would have been nice.)
Finally, I do not delete comments, unless they are about penis enlargement or Canadian swing dancing, both of which I received today. Luckily, I also received these:
My friends Dan and Carly's daughter, Avery, at her first Iowa dairy farm this weekend.
Avery, going solo. Or Silo. Something like that.