American Hell

Around this time, I ran into Christopher's mother at a party and surprised her by asking, "How's Christopher?" "Wow, good memory," she said. "He's eleven and in the sixth grade now. He's all grown up." It caught me by surprise, for I had pictured him at a portable age all that time. Still in his swishy little cordoroys and diaper. I pictured him going to school in an SUV, coming home to a house as big and white and darkly shingled as the homes that turn up in Hollywood movies. You know the sort: a hundred-year-old colonial on a corner lot, leaf-strewn -- a pecan pie always baking in the oven.

These are just American images of what a home is, or what Hollywood tells us is the ideal, but the longer I live in New York, the more confused I become over the way such visuals have me furtively wiping my eyes at the cinema -- and then hating myself for being such a sop. I had a picture of what my life would look like, and that proved to be wrong. With each year, though, as I swear off muscle cars and watching sports, find myself eating dinner alone at restaurants and frowning at religiosity, it seems to have been more off-base than I could have ever imagined. I don't have time to be a dad now, let alone enough hours in the day to be a good one. I have begun hoping my older brother has a kid.