This summer I am working in the warehouse that my grandfather started, that my father runs, that my grandfather won't retire from. I sit at a desk most of the day and do nothing, which can be nice, and answer phones and occasionally do useful repetitive paperwork things for people. The people are interesting, very country. They love their hound dogs and motorcycles and bad haircuts, making jokes, being polite on the phone and then bashing people the moment they hang up. I am essentially incompetent except to pass the phone and bills to the other people in the office, but at least I get paid for it, and get to sit down.
Today, a truck driver told my co-worker that he was going to take me home with him. He was old and gray, and when he came back in and asked if my bags were packed I didn't know what to say. I thought, "No, but I have my sexual harrassment lawsuit all planned in my head." Another office worker-- who incidentally has been working here for longer than I have been alive, and whose ex-wife is about my age-- said he wanted me for his girlfriend the other day. Not as bad as being threatened with kidnapping by a sleazy truck driver.
But in the scheme of things in my family, having an old man want to take me home is really among the best afflictions to have. My sister is in Florida with her husband, who has been in the hospital for four months and just got out (minus one eye and with an open wound in his stomach). My mother is in Charlotte with her father, who is in the hospital because complications from his chemotherapy have caused his legs and (brace yourself) scrotum to swell to the point of, literally as of this morning, bursting. My father chopped off the tip of his thumb in a wood chopper shortly before my graduation from college this Spring. My boyfriend's mother has had some awful issues too. I feel like I bring bad luck and sickness on people around me-- don't get too close, world, your loved ones will drop like flies. I get to talk to them, try to help them piece things together. I feel guilty because I'm not getting emotionally involved in the suffering of my grandfather and brother-in-law, but if I were as consumed by it all as my mother, then I wouldn't be able to function. I'm detached, until I see them. Seeing my grandfather in the hospital the other day talking about how tired he was of waiting to get well, and knowing that my brother-in-law will be coming back to North Carolina eventually without an eye-- these things suck.
I want to fix them all, make eveything beautiful, relieve people's suffering and answer their deep questions and not be a source of stress for anyone. It's so awful that they're all in different places, my boyfriend in a different country, making it impossible to be with them all and expensive to visit any of them.