Snorting crank through shared straws. Bleary-eyed trips to the gas station for beer or cigarettes, steering wheel in one hand, mixed drink inthe other. Sprees home through quiet, sycamore-lined neighborhoods atsixty miles an hour to make curfew. Blackouts shadowed by the mornings I peered out my bedroom window to see my car parked outside,wondering how I got home.
One thing I did realize in rehab, though, was how much people caredabout me. My friends visited with flowers and mixtapes. Everyone—myparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins—sent cards and letters of support. I knew I wasn’t alone, and though it took some time,eventually I did wake up. It’s now been twenty-eight years, and sometimes I read through those letters and cards, those reminders of the past,of the lost girl I once was.
The woman’s name is K—. She is ten years younger than I am. I lookher up on the Internet and read that she was arrested a year earlier,around the same time the trailer appeared. Her charge: public nuisance.I wonder if anyone ever tried to save her.
I’m standing in the parking lot when Doug arrives. “If you’d just told
me this was Sergio’s old place,” he calls out from the open window of the
cab, “I’d have known exactly where you are.”
Sergio is the auto mechanic who squatted in the shop before my fa-
ther moved in.
He gets out of his truck, a heavyset man in shorts and flip-flops with
a long silver mane. “Damn,” he says as he inspects the tongue jack. “My
ball hitch isn’t the right size.”
I think I might cry.
I watch him dig around in the bed of his truck, tossing aside piecesof wood and tools, searching for a hitch that will work. Finally he findsone, and I help him back up to the trailer, guiding him with my hand—something I’ve done countless times with my father when going camping or fishing, when helping him load his utility trailer with tables fora craft fair. Doug hooks up the trailer to his truck, does a quick walkaround, and pulls the broken door from beneath it. He tosses the doorinside the trailer, then reaches down and brings out a Weed Eater.
“You want this?” he asks.
I take it and lean it against the shop. It’s probably stolen, but my father might need an extra one.
I hand him the cash.