Susan Quist
Novelist, Poet, Security Guard

Blue Marble. NASA

HOME PLANET SECURITY


Home. First page of almost any website. You could replace it with another, but what would you choose? There’s no place like home -- the word is loaded.

Reminds me of the days I was employed as security guard riding shotgun on an armored truck in Florida and discovered I cannot trust myself with guns, but that's another story and this is not the time to tell it.

Here, right here, at 62 years of age, it dawns on me I spent most of my life running away from home. I began running away when I was 16. Found myself in the woods one night wondering where to go, and thought, I'll throw myself on Mr. Mahan's mercy .

MERCY.

Did the poor man know I wanted to throw myself at him?

Don Mahan was my favorite high school English teacher. I had two and loved them both, but I loved Don the most. He looked and spoke and smoked like Jean-Paul Sartre, and loved Thoreau. He loved good writing and he loved his students. He made you think, made you feel what you thought and felt were important. That's why, when I felt like running away, I felt like running to him.

Now, while I'm thinking about him and writing this, Don has up and left the old home planet. And so has my mother, who was the reason I spent so much of my life running away from home.

Didn't realize until she was nearly gone, but she was very beautiful and I loved her a lot. The way she loved life -- a love-hate relationship. She WAS hard to live with. She had trouble living with herself. Couldn't help it. She was bi-polar, like Mother Earth. She was tickled when her birthday became Earth Day. Her middle name was Day. She was a certified narcissist, deeply insecure. And talented.

She had a good eye and was into home decorating. Our homes appeared in Better Homes & Gardens. Now they call it House and Garden and my daughter is into home decorating, they call it interior design, and my mother has left the planet.

Do I mean to say Mom and Don took off in a shuttle with rocket boosters? Of course not. They didn't need rockets. They made a quantum leap.

Where do we go from here?

All I know is I'm in no hurry to leave any time soon.
Funny. For years I didn’t feel at home anywhere. Now I feel at home here.

Home, they say, is
where your heart is.
Where's yours?
Mine's in my body.
I am a homebody.
Welcome home.


Is that true?

I don't feel at home in my body like I used to. It's a load. But I'm not ready to let it go. Phone rings. Daughter.

Daughter asks, can you help with the kids Friday?

Friday? Today isn't Friday?

I don't have to a job to go to these days, which makes it hard to keep track of them, and my clock is a computer thing with a calendar. If I hit the wrong button the wrong way, time jumps forward. Days, months, years. Which is how the mind works.

Turns out it's Thursday. Tomorrow is Friday. Most likely. And before I know it, the clock has jumped two years ahead. What a hoot. Mr. Levin is still playing mind games. He’s the guy who gave me the clock, which – I kid you not – stopped the day his heart did. That’s right. Once a year I have to change the battery, and the first time it stopped was the day Michael Levin left the planet.

I went to his… what shall we call it? Hardly anyone has funerals these days. We have parties, where people celebrate our lives. They had one for him, at his home – which could have been mine, a townhouse in Tribeca, if I had played my cards right. But that’s another story.

Point is, I went to this gathering of his family and friends, and it was almost all women. Turns out old Mr. Levin was a skirt chaser. I was the last skirt he chased. And the poor guy didn’t get any, because I wanted to get my act together before we hooked up, and I never got it together. I was shocked when I heard he was gone.

Now there I was in his home, a townhouse with a grand piano and walls lined with racks full of wine and jazz and classical records, thinking this could have been mine, talking to his wife -- his ex.

I told her Mr. Levin -- Michael -- gave me this clock and it stopped the day he did. She said he gave one to her and it did that too. That's right. TWO clocks -- given to the first and last ladies in his life -- stopped the same day Mr. Levin stopped breathing.

He must have been surprised. Mr. Levin did not believe in ghosts. But he was a control freak. If anyone could stop a clock, he…

“Susan?” Daughter asks, "Do you know where you are?"

Here, home, a place called Earth. I thought about leaving last year. Came close to it. Was prepared to make the leap, but didn't want to upset my grandsons -- and I'm not through. I have a lot of stories left to tell and I want to save the planet, damn it.

My mother refused to eat anywhere that didn't have atmosphere.

I'm afraid that's why she stopped eating
and left the planet.



All contents on this website
Copyright (c) 2007 by Susan Quist


Selected Works

Susan Quist “put the wiz in wisdom.” Charles Bukowski
Short Story
Inspired by Lenny Bruce and Mel Brooks, this drop-dead funny story made the cover of Ms. Magazine.
Novel
"Not the dull chronology of life, but rather its essence made real--this is what Susan Quist gives us... Jerome Klinkowitz
Collected Poetry
"A terrible title for such a tender and funny collection of good poems...I hope there will be many more." Kurt Vonnegut.

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