Haven't written really written anything for a while but keep getting closer to the core. Where do the angles come from, the new ones, after I think I've looked at it, at me, from every side, up down and from the inside out. And every time there are more angles. I am a prism. What doesn't cut through me makes me stronger--is that what they tell you?
I remember when my dad was dead and I was nine and my sister and brother somehow got the money together to get my mom a "mother's ring," which, at least back in 1971, was a ring a mom would wear that had all her kids' birthstones in it. And I remember thinking, I thought we were getting her a TV, but they were seven and nine years older than me and they had jobs, so I had to shut up and be happy we could get her something cool like a ring, not the new Zenith TV that would have to wait until next year.
But they were worried about me, you know, about me always talking and spoiling secrets and tattling on them. So they told me that if I slipped up and told my mother about the birthstone ring, they would leave my birthstone out of the ring. That's right, you talk, you cease to exist, at least in our mother's ring, and they probably said, okay brat? because we were siblings. And I thought of that ring with their september and october birthstones, and no june birthstone of mine, and my mom walking around having to tell everyone why her third kid wasn't in her ring, and I felt pretty scared and determined not to screw up.
Now here I am with no dad, him having already died, even though we still got mail for him in 1971, and my brother and sister are sticking this gigantic secret on my shoulders, and I'm still wondering why it's still a secret what my father died of, cancer being something of a cultural bad omen back then, and there are about six other REALLY BIG secrets I'm holding onto at nine, so I'm already walking around with my lips about busting open from not wanting to hold onto any more secrets when they tell me about my birthstone not being in the ring if I slip up.
Next thing I know we're sitting around my Italian grandmother's table, big as all get out like they were in those big houses of the 10th ward in Rochester, and it's my sister, her boyfriend, my brother, my mother, me, grandma D., an aunt or two, and we're eating some pasta, which I still love to this day, though I wouldn't blame me at all if this meal put a bad taste in my mouth for pasta, and I kind of wish it had because I eat too much of it.
Anyway, we're eating and talking and my brother says something about telling my mom what the big present is that we've been promising if she lets him get X, and I can't remember if X was a minibike or a car, but it was something he wanted badly, although I know now that I'm 42 not bad enough to tell our secret, and they're joking around, and everyone's joking around at the table, they're all like: "Ha ha go ahead Frank, tell her what her present is so you can get a minibike," and then I go and do the dumbest thing, thinking that my brother might actually tell her what her present is, not stopping to think about why everyone is laughing and that it's a joke and that I'm nine and I should probably shut up. Instead, I remind him:
"If you tell her, you won't get your birthstone in the ring!"
Silence. dead air. forks on plates. eyes roll.
I stay steady, but the room is moving. Around me everything swims and I pretend not to know what I said, and my mom is the best, she's saying some Catholic thing like; Honey I think you mean he won't get a Jewel in his Crown, and isn't she the best my mom pretending not to notice that I just RUINED HER BIRTHDAY, and I'm so red and my stomach is sick because the ring is already bought and now I know that my brother and sister will kill me in my sleep.
And I really never wanted anyone to tell me another secret after that.