It was kind of strange to read Alex describe the apartment my mother got for him when he was released from his second to last (I think?) stint in prison. I remember that apartment well. My mom had spent so much time cleaning everything, and we all pitched in furniture to make it homey and nice. He had my 1950s dining table and chairs, as well as the leaning wall desk my grandfather made me. It's funny to me that in his book he only converses with my brother, who was certainly there, but definitely not the one who picked him up from prison on the day he was released, like he describes. I remember that day, too. It was my birthday, and the next day was my grandfather's. We went out to dinner that night to celebrate those birthdays as well as Alex's release, but the weekend was mostly about Alex. I remember being irritated by that. It sounds so petty now, to be jealous that my brother was getting more attention than me on my birthday. I guess I was bothered by the fact that I had driven all the way from Chicago to see my family, who I hardly ever got to see, and all anyone could talk about was Alex. Whether he was in prison or out, had a job or not, was in trouble or in-between trouble, my family's conversation always centered around Alex, and that fact both amazed and infuriated me. How could one person acquire so many people's undivided attention like that? He was like a tornado, sweeping in with a moment's notice and sucking up everything in his path. It drove me nuts, especially because I knew that he had all of my attention, too.
The night he describes in his book, the night he was released from that stint in prison, my mom brought my birthday cake to his new apartment, where our entire family was gathered. His new-to-him television was on, and people were taking turns asking him about his plans, razzing him about his long hair he grew out over his three year stay, and complimenting his new place. I lit the candles on the cake and waited for my family to turn around.
"You aren't going to make us sing to you, are you?" Alex asked.
"Yeah, maybe just cut the cake? It's getting late," someone suggested.
I blew out the candles and wished all of them chronic diarrhea.
About a month ago, my friend’s grandfather died. He was in his eighties and had been ill, so his end was not a surprise, but she was sti...