A family owned business

All she wants for Christmas is a family owned pizzeria. One she can pass down to her children. They’ll work there after school, if they want to. She’ll only employ friends and family. She’ll give employee discounts.

She understands it’s not reasonable but she can’t help but ask for it. A little dog will sit outside barking at passers by. I can help her on the weekends, as an employee so I can get a discount. I told her that she doesn’t have to choose between a chef and a doctor because they’re both based in science. She seemed comforted.

I dreamt last night of her long deceased father. No time had passed. He was here with us now as though he’d never left. We were open housing a large house in the suburbs. I felt safe and excited about the future.

Since the first day I met him, he made me feel safe and excited about the future. Even when things were hard and we realized each other’s limitations and some bitterness crept in, I believed in our future. I took it for granted.

After he died, I saw him in dreams where he could not speak to me and he could not move. In one, we were in la finca in front of the main house but there was a chain link fence dividing the house from rest of the land that rose in a hill for acres towards the cousins’ finca. He was holding onto the fence on the side close to the house and I stood next to him. I asked him not to go. I felt cold dread knowing he was gone already.

The children and I visited our old house in Virginia this summer. We drove down the pipe stem lot, feeling like we’d trespassed, as every visitor always did. I fell in love with that house from the moment I saw the plat online. The grass was dead in the same places that he had worked so hard to keep alive. The shrubs along the entry way that he’d tended with devotion, we had ripped up and replaced with rocks to prepare for the sale.

The house seemed drab. The children were curious and brave. The owners didn’t let us in; said they were sick. My daughter, the one who wants a pizzeria for Christmas, has been more appreciative of New York since that trip. He was the only thing keeping me there.

We were together ten years and it is almost ten since he passed. It is inexplicable. I have been so defined by someone who has been gone almost as long as he was with me. I ask myself whether I was living a half life then or am I living a half life now?

The sense of safety and excitement about the future abandoned me the day he died and has never returned until last night. Upon awakening, I thought the dream a cold dream. It was probably always a cold dream that dream, primarily made up of a physical structure.

Better to dream of friends and family and children and descendants and discounts and dogs outside in the bustling streets of New York City. “Baby, do you wish we had a different life and instead of doing what I do, instead I owned a pizzeria?” I asked her. “No, mama, this is not my dream for you, this is my dream for myself.”


I write abecedarian sequences

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