Nonfiction | July 24, 2012

Starting out, my mother is excited to be driving. She sings along with the radio. The sunlight is yellow and bright on her left arm.  She wears sunglasses and looks like a blonde Jackie O. But as we get closer to my grandmother’s house—past the six-hour mark, maybe seven and a half—after we pass through Iowa and we’re weaving through traffic on the I-880 bypass around the Quad Cities, definitely as we enter Illinois, she becomes visibly more nervous, tapping her nails on her thigh, worrying the cloth of her slacks between two fingers so that the fabric chirps like a cricket. She’s playing her Mother Angelica tapes, and you cannot sing along with a bunch of geriatric nuns who cannot carry a tune in the first place. Listening to their tapes is a form of penance in and of itself, and the fact that my mother has brought the entire set of twelve cassettes angers me. “Why do you have to listen to that?” I snarl. I am nearly eighteen, and snarling comes easily to me.

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