Sunday, November 22, 2009

This is a parking lot

This is not a story.

This is a parking lot. Filled with a dozen bales of hay. Soon the asphalt will be covered with evergreens who’ve died for our sins or our pleasure or our comfort or our deep desire to pretend we’re in the Berkshires and never even came to this Godforsaken town.

I’d dated Christian women in the past, but I’d never had Christmas in my home. We just weren’t those kind of Jews.

She had her winter break and I’d convinced her to come out to be with me. So I had to make sure this was a great Christmas. A memorable one. She didn’t tell me it would be memorable for her regardless. It was the first she’d spent away from her family in all her 35 years.

Now I knew Christmas was a big thing for her, but I didn’t realize she’d NEVER been away from her family during the holiday.

You can’t win that game.

But I tried. I got the biggest tree I could physically drag along the ground by myself. She needed to know what I was willing to do for her. I didn’t care how much it cost or whether protruded from my convertible enough to violate half a dozen laws. It was so big that when I got it home…

The tree didn’t fit.

I could not get it into my apartment. My studio was tiny anyway. It would have taken up so much space we’d scarcely have had room to maneuver our way to the kitchen.

So I set it up in its little stand just outside the bungalo. And I went to Target and got some ornaments and lights. The ornaments were simple red and blue and purple metallic balls. I got some strings of gold and silver.

And the lights were white. I’d heard her say once she though the colored lights were gaudy. And I remembered. I got straight lights, and icicles too by accident, but she was arriving the next day and I didn’t have time to return them, so they would have to do. My camera had been stolen a year earlier and I’d never replaced it, so I have a picture of the naked tree my neighbor took for me, but we never got a picture of us with the tree all lit up. Still, I remember that towering tree every time I see those lots clear out all their pumpkins and make way for the firs.

And I’ve taken those lights with my from house to house ever since, stringing them up for summer parties, house warmings and BBQs. And every time I see them and all my friends celebrating in the foreground, I think about her. And how my Christmas just wasn’t enough.

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