One move leads to another move, and nowhere feels as good as you want it to feel; your childhood feels wrong, and this place feels wrong, and the next place feels wrong, and so you move again. Find a new job, a new apartment, meet a neighbor at the mailboxes; he has a dog named Kidney that terrifies you, but the neighbor is a new friend, the first one you meet and when he invites you to dinner you go because that’s what you do, you’ve just moved to the area.
His wife is sullen with red wine, glancing at you, and you understand, you do not like people either, though she does not realize this about you because you chat with her husband like you do like people, and he chatters back nervously as though he really does like people; he is one of those rarities, only he usually pretends not to like them because of the wife. Hence the nervousness. He has broken a rule bringing you here. Kidney scratches behind a closed door down the hall.
Your job is in an office with bright yellow walls; they are too yellow, and you point to them and say you now know what it’s like to work inside the sun. Everyone laughs, someone suggests we turn up the heat, and the next day someone brings you a bag of Sun Chips, then Sunny-D; soon they call you Sunny. You get a promotion. You go to the neighbor’s to celebrate, and the wife, takes Kidney for a walk. Neighbor tells you don’t take it personally. Neighbor is excited about the promotion.
Things slow down. Work. Coffee. Mailboxes. Neighbor. Your coworkers sense something. They make calls, fix blind-dates for your lunch hour, say: this might be the Moony you’re looking for! None of them are Moonies. You wish you could be friends with the neighbor’s wife who hates people, but you after all are a person, too.
Your mother calls. She says three houses opened up in their neighborhood and they are all good deals. Your dad snores in the background. Your mother says: I broke another plate today. Your mother says: I ran into your high school sweetheart. No, not married. Bald as a bat!
You move. Somewhere new. New neighbor, new job; it’s not hard, you are highly skilled. The walls are blue in the new office. They call you Skyler.
New neighbor’s dog Potato scratches down the hall. New neighbor has no wife. You sleep together. You move in together. Goodbye Potato. You tell your mother, she cries about it. At the office they call neighbor Nightler. Things slow down. Night- ler gets thin. You realize Nightler does not like people. He puts headphones on when you enter the room.
Your coworkers sense something. You hear whispers around his name. Bzzzzzz Nightler bzzzzzz. You close your door. Boy do you miss old Neighbor.
Your mother calls, says: we’re still here! Dad snoring. She says: we bought new plates today. We bought three. One for you.
The problem with people: one person leads to another person, and no one’s who you want them to be; even Mother feels wrong, and Nightler feels wrong, and the next one feels wrong.
Nightler says: I’m hungry. I think you should leave.
You move. This time you move backwards. Hello Neighbor. Hello Kidney. Hello wife that hates you. You say to Wife: I hate you, too. You say to Neighbor: I do not hate you. I do not really hate everyone, only I think I do when I get restless. Will you chain me here to your kitchen chair? Will you be my Moony?
Wife leaves with Kidney. Goodbye. Goodbye. You are unhappy being chained down the rest of your life. But it’s the only way to stop moving.
*Licensed from The University of North Texas Press. Copyright 2018 by Jessica Hollander from In These Times the Home Is a Tired Place