notes from a dark desert

I had forgotten how young I was when I first read Dirt Music. Fifteen? Sixteen? I remember turning to my mom, horrified around part four, and her wanting to know why and me explaining. She didn’t need to say to avoid men like that; she didn’t demean me by acting like I didn’t understand the obvious. I was there recounting the book for her, after all. 

She went somewhere with it, though. I can’t remember which anecdote. Someone she knew in the hospital, or in college, or in Africa. Maybe several people? But I mention it because I always thought these were conversations everyone had. These dark things happen in a book, and you’ve read about them so now you know at least that they exist, and then they become a little more real when someone you know knows someone. To whom that happened.

And this isn’t to say that books and interested mothers divert all or even most ills. But maybe not everyone ever gets to have these conversations, and they’re a little more vulnerable for the lack. Maybe my sister didn’t, for example. Maybe that’s how she ended up substituting love with the threat of the lack of it. 

A lot of the time, you know, you hear the old saw. “I blame the parents!” But what if you share all the knowledge you have with your kids and they just don’t listen and they still turn into sharp, pricking people? You warn them and share your stories and everything. And it doesn’t matter. They invite the sharp edges into their lives and then become them. You do, apparently, still love them. But they hurt themselves, and in so doing hurt you too. What then?

I don’t know. But I do recommend Dirt Music

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