Epilogue – Glue
The heat rises off the pavement like a tossed away prayer; evaporating into the august Texas sun. I melt on the sidewalk with anticipation of the white Kia minivan turning the corner into terminal E; the first sight of my wife, who I have not seen in two weeks. She is always late, so much so, that I would be disappointed to find her waiting for me. Over the years, I have grown acclimatize to her standard of time; she usually runs about twenty minutes behind everyone else. Truthfully, the flaw of hers drives me crazy. Crazy has become comfortable. She blames her super creativity. I think her super creativity is a nice way of saying insanity.
Painters are seldom sane. She holds a B.F.A. in studio art with an emphasis on painting and sculpting from the University of North Texas. Her sophomore, junior, and senior year she was the featured artist in the programs spring exhibit. They recognized each of her yearly projects as outstanding works and urged her to further her education. The day she graduated was one of the proudest days of my life. It took her ten years, two births, and several fights with herself to get to walk across that stage. My favorite moment was when all the art graduates walked in front of the Professors, sitting in their black robes with green and purple sashes draped across their fronts. She was the only one the head of the art department reached out to recognize. The way his hand touched her arm, as she walked by, said thank you for not giving up. He knew her talents should not go to waste.
Watching her paint is an incredible experience for me; her hands, larger than mine, can make a three dimensional figure come to life with a brush stroke. Our home resembles art museums with every wall floating a canvass upon its skin. During the first year we were together, we did not own a television. Our time in that apartment spent with her on the floor creating school projects, designed to help her explore her developing abilities. Me on the couch writing loud aggressive poems that I could awe a bar of drunks. Now, when I look at charcoal drawings rolled up in our closet I know I would not change a thing.
December 13, 1996 was to be our only date. She had just had her heart broken; so the gay couple that she lived with at the time, Thom and Jason, had hooked her up for a one-night stand. I was to be that casual sexual experience. Just old enough to drink legally by about two weeks she was not that experienced. I would come to find out I was the fourth man she ever slept with. We flirted with each other and never said a word, across the picnic bench tables of the Barley House. They had over fifty beers and ciders on tap. She ordered the pear cider. Pears are my favorite fruit; to show her I remember the curvature of her eyes against the glass I will surprise her with pear ciders on nights when the kid’s madness makes the weeklong. Once we were in the car to go home we made out in the backseat while our gay friends drove us to happiness.
The first time I saw her I remember telling Jason how fine she was. Half Thai, from the east Texas town of Tyler, her candy apple red hair barely scraped her shoulder. The chrome half-circle septum ring in her nose reminded me of an angry bull in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Lisa and her sister popped into a poetry reading I was hosting. I spoke to her from the stage about twenty times as I made banter with the audience in between poets. She made me nervous with her large smile. When she spoke, her appearance became a conundrum. This woman with strong almond shaped eyes the color of light caramel, exactly the shade of the light brown plain M&M candies I loved as a kid, has a furious twang. She sounds as if she came right off the set of Hee-Haw, especially when she talks on the phone; putting a southern giggle at the end of every line, she speaks. The perfect punctuation.
Tyler, Texas unfolds in her mannerisms, a large rural town that has more Baptist churches than fast food restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations put together. The white conservatism that exudes from the smiles of four wheel drive Ford trucks and the gun racks that protect them, never let her forget where she came from. There was only one other Asian family living in the area at the time. They owned the Chinese food place and everyone assumed that was her family. Her father is white. A successful executives in town; his family has prospered there for generations.
At night when we lay cuddled in each other’s secrets. She speaks of her grandmother. How her love never treated her as different. They walked through the department store where women smiled with respect and called her by name. Her grandmother made her feel like she was from Texas, not a foreign land where she did not speak the language. Her picture watches over our living room and every time Lisa looks at the gold frame painting on a rectangular glass, I can feel her breath caress a young girl’s contentment.
Before she died, we drove down on weekends so that our daughter received the life experience of this wonderful woman around her. Confined to a wheelchair and barely able to keep her wits about her some days, she never saw guests without her hair and makeup done. She always properly attired. Her face light up like a little girl at Christmas when Lisa entered the room. They sat and talked the entire afternoons we were there. Olivia perched on her lap she reminisced over her life in grand smiles and laughing eyes. A proper woman, who never uttered a sideways word about anyone. Lisa lives to her example.
Over the years, my wife has not changed much, still that Texas girl. Only the hair is longer, back to its natural darkness, and the nose ring has long since vanished. When her hands create my being still fills with possibility.
She holds a height that folds her head against my heart whether we are standing or curled up on the couch. She is the greatest believer in this white trash poet, who has struggled to fight ignorance as if it was a sixteen-syllable word.
Even when I traded my pen for a crack pipe, she never waffled. Lisa packed my kids into the car, she left me homeless on the front porch of the house we bought, I had smoked away. She was strong enough to say, “When you are done dying I will return.”
We both come from divorced marriages and step parent resentments. The idea of achieving something denied to us both as children is the bond that holds our flirtations to this day. Our home is full of laughter our children never go without hugs and verbal accolades for their accomplishments. We eat around a dinner table ingesting each other’s lives. She packs school lunches every morning and places a note within each bag. She saves all of them in a plain brown lunch sack stuck high in the cabinet. When everyone is asleep and I have doubts about my poems and direction in my life, scared that I might waiver, I read them. I cherish the notes simple act of love. She heals the little boy broken within me. She is the glue that holds together our family. My wife is the most loyal person I have ever known, at my side since that car wreck a few years ago, the night I stopped killing myself. The past couple of years a real struggle, my family left in the aftermath of my ruin. I hold onto the lesson of Ernest and Bill, I dream of sitting at a wealthy table. I celebrate my mother by being a good and decent man. We are on the right path.
I franticly scan the bend of the entrance to the terminal for my chance to believe again to appear. As the van slows, her eyes speak to mine. To her I am a prizefighter; someone who will never give up. I want to be a simple man— a father worthy of the name dad. Our relationship began as a night of sexual chance for both of us; has blossomed into that thing I think my great grandparents had. We are only thirty-six years away from fifty. I look forward to finding out; blessed with love and freedom of our hearts, there is nothing better than doing what you love supported by the people who love you. Time cannot contain us.