When You Gotta Go

As I was driving down to LAX this morning I was mindful of holiday statistics, thinking, "Okay, how many barbecue drunks could there be on the road at 7:30 a.m. on a Friday?"

When we got in the car Jackson immediately plugged himself into his own iPod using the little green frog ear buds I gave him for his birthday. I wasn't feeling quite sharp enough for NPR and I thought it would be rude to plug in my iPod and get into some sort of weird hearing-loss battle, so I just drove. Ninety miles of an unselfconscious little boy singing in that half-tuneless, badly-enunciated way people do when they can't hear themselves was probably the better choice anyway because honestly, running all that Kanye West and Katy Perry through the Jackson Filter was far more entertaining than listening to it first-hand.

The commute down the 1 through Malibu was a surprisingly noncompetitive, and while I was swerving back and forth, thinking not just about all the half-naked surfers changing out of their wetsuits by their cars on the side of the road -- I totally do that thing where if I'm looking to the right I'll also pull the wheel to the right, whoops! My bad! -- but also about unattractive people who die in unexpected, disease-free ways, how everyone always mocks them afterward. "Sure, he lived on broccoli juice and hemp crackers, his cholesterol was zero, he had the unblemished heart of a lumberjack, and the strength of his erections could have pushed the leaning tower of Pisa back to plumb -- and he got hit by a bus! Haw haw haw." As though you should never do another sit-up again and live on bacon cheeseburgers on the off chance the downtown express will run a light and paste you and your last lard smoothie all over Cliff Drive.

But what if being hit by a bus was God's reward for showing respect and goodwill to that corpse-to-be you're currently calling home? What if God reserved only the most instantaneous, never-saw-it-coming deaths for the people who took care of their gifts? Took your vitamins, wore comfortable shoes, and strove to develop an enlightened and giving political voice? BOOM, you get hit by lightening before you ever had a chance to decline physically or mentally, see ya. Kissed your wife with all your heart, every single time? Here, have a fatal heart attack in your favorite chair when your team wins the championship.

I'm back in Denver for my mom's funeral, so I'm afraid it's just a deathy kind of thought-weekend. Now that she's gone we can really get into the meat of this house, all the chipped trinkets and unfinished thoughts and unlabeled photographs of people we vaguely resemble but will never be able to name. I'm going to take pictures of everything that means anything and then it can all go to Goodwill. My brothers very kindly gave me my mother's wedding band and now that's the only souvenir I really care to walk away with. Well, and maybe that kimono. And I'll see if that sundress fits.