All, everything that I understand, I understand
because I love.
Fiats wipers cut half moons in the steadily falling snow.
Lawrence downshifted and eased the car around another switchback.
He drove slowly, wary of the icy, slick, anaconda-like road that
led them deeper into the mountains of the Abruzzi. His hands,
with long almost feminine fingers, danced from the gear shift
to the steering wheel and back at every corner. I didn't
realize Italy was so cold, he said.
in winter, said Rose. I'd bet on it.
that a road sign? asked Lawrence. How much farther?
if I could see the sign, Lawrence, you know I can't figure out
kilometer, not kill-O-meter.
it's pronounced, they're a pain in the rear, Rose cracked
her window and a swirl of snow dusted her shoulders. She fumbled
in her purse and extracted a cigarette and a gold-and-red pack
of matches from the Tivoli Gardens. She lit up and dropped the
match onto the floor of the rented car. She inhaled and savored
the smoke, relaxing visibly. Rose exhaled slowly; the smoke was
sucked in tendrils through the open window.
Fiats left headlight had failed and Lawrence was guided
by just a single beam of light as he negotiated the mountain road.
Past Italian cypress and olive treeslooking incongruous
in the snowto higher elevations where the landscape was
dominated by spruce and pines. Rose lit another cigarette.
you have to smoke, Rose?
patted his leg as it danced from the brake to the gas. It
relaxes me. Quitting now would be like closing the barn door after
all the animals had gone.
could try giving them up.
darling, it wouldn't help.
couldn't hurt. What if there is something at the clinic in Lanciano
to help you?
was supposed to be something in Mexico City and Toronto.
She sucked at her cigarette. Not to mention Helsinki and
ignored the pert summary of last year's itinerary. I hate
it when you smoke. I detest those putrid butts. Lawrence,
as if to punctuate his sentence, ran the Fiat into a snowbank.
Jesus! He slammed his fist against the dashboard.
tossed her cigarette into the storm and laughed.
I miss a joke?
joke, Lawrence. I just truly do love you. The way you vent frustration
on foreign objects. She patted the Fiats dash. Although,
I suppose, since were in Italy, a Fiats a domestic
punched the domestic Fiat again.
inched toward Lawrence and smiled. I love the way you rattle
ice cubes in your gins-and-tonic, how you line up a putt, the
fact that you can't even walk barefoot down the driveway to get
the Sunday paper.
of women would think that youre over-delicate and a bit
of a flake but I love you and have cherished every moment of the
thirty-seven years we've been married.
leaned over, cupped his wife's face in his hand, and kissed her
forehead, nose, and lips. He hugged Rose, feeling her bones, frail
and fragile as a schoolgirl's. He rubbed her neck and buried his
face in the collar of her coat. He smelled coffee, cigarettes
and her slightly sweet body odor: Roses aromas. Yeah,
he said, it's been a good life.
then I screwed it up by getting cancer.
pulled his wife closer. You are not going to die.
whispered, And that's what I love most about you. Your incredible,
concrete belief that life is fair. She closed her eyes and
kissed her husband.
held Rose and hoped that the specialist in Lanciano would be more
effective in stemming the spread of his wife's cancer than the
other doctors who had poked, prodded and injected her with everything
from enzymes and vitamins to liquefied sheep placentas. Since
the doctors in the US had declared her brain tumor inoperable
and chemotherapy had only succeeded in removing her fingernails,
toenails and hair, Rose and Lawrence had hop-scotched across North
America and Europe searching for a cure. Not only were they running
out of money, they were running out of doctors who would even
see Rose. Her cancer had metastasized, and oncologists, much like
major-league pitchers, were paid in accordance to their Won-Loss
record. And with Rose, there were two out in the bottom of the
shivered in her husband's arms. I'm cold, she said.
Let's get going.
nodded. He pumped the gas and turned the ignition key.
it's flooded, said Rose. Try again.
wrong? asked Rose.
flicked on the wipers. They scraped away the quickly accumulating
snow; then quit. Dead battery.
should we do?
either sit here and freeze, or freeze trying to find a farmhouse.
shivered, then smiled. I suppose some air would do me good.
She pulled on her gloves and looped her hood over her crew-cut-length,
gray hair. Lawrence removed a scarf and wrapped it around her
neck, tucking it into the front of her coat.
loverboy, said Rose.
sweet. She yanked his watchcap down over his ears. Let's
opened their doors, exited, and then slammed them shut at precisely
the same instant. Rose smiled across the car's roof and said,
could only discern where they had been; the road up the hill could
have continued in any direction. The white-shrouded trees that
poked through the drape of snow could either be pampered vegetation
on the lawn of a villa, or thin forest growth on the side of the
mountain. Lawrence couldn't tell; against the white backdrop,
he was blind. He scooted around the back of the Fiat and took
Rose's arm. They slip-slid down what appeared to be a path.
they walked through the whiteness. Twice, Lawrence had to remove
his eyeglasses and rub them on his sleeve to remove the sticky
wet snow. He could feel Rose trembling. Over there,
between the sheets of snow, when you can see, it looks like a
should go back to the car, Lawrence. I'm like fishsticks.
stopped and hugged Rose. He kissed her coat; snowflakes melted
on his lips. At least in the car, said Rose, we'd
be away from the wind.
Lawrence checked his watch; they been walking less than 20 minutes.
They turned and tried to find the footsteps they'd made only moments
before. After two steps Roses legs buckled and she hit the
snow face first. Lawrence turned Rose onto her back. She was unconscious,
but breathing. The landscape, except for the malformed snow angel
where Rose had landed, was a smooth ubiquitous white. He lifted
his wife fireman style, and trudged toward what he thought might
be a building.
later, stumbling beneath Roses insulated weight, he found
the building, a solid substantial white amid a pale swirling storm.
Lawrence walked to his right, keeping his left hand on the wall.
After three minutes Lawrence, chest heaving, spittle frozen to
his chin, touched a slatted wooden fence. He looked up into the
inexorable snow and lowered Rose to the ground; she curled, instinctively,
against the cold. He kicked at the fence.
finally broke through. He pulled the shattered slat away and attacked
the adjacent board. He ripped at the fence and within minutes
he had cleared a shoulder-width passage. He dug both hands under
Roses armpits and dragged her through the ragged hole in
the fence. Quivering from exertion, Lawrence collapsed to the
ground alongside his wife.
groaned; Lawrence watched her chest rise and fall, relieved to
see her still breathing. He removed his gloves and massaged her
cheeks. Her face was suddenly warm. The snowflakes on her hat
and coat had melted. Lawrence knelt in the damp grass and adjusted
his glasses: they were in a huge garden. The sky overhead was
stark blue; no snow. All the gardens fruit trees: figs,
cherries, and apples, were blooming. Sweat trickled down his neck
and pooled in his closed collar.
he said. He peeled off his coat and hat, dropping them onto the
turf. Beyond the fruit trees were beds of vegetables: peppers,
zucchini vines, armored artichoke bushes. He peered back through
the rift in the fence; snow eddied and swirled, but did not enter
the garden. Rose stirred and sat upright. What happened?
got lost. In the snow. You passed out.
touched her face and came away with melted snow on her glove.
It's January, said Rose. We should be in a snowstorm
on an Italian mountain. She yanked off her gloves and ran
her hand through the damp grass. Apparently, I've blown
on, said Lawrence. He stood and offered Rose a hand. You
little unsteady on the pegs. She leaned against her husband,
smiling. I thought I'd never be warm again.
nodded and guided her through the garden. Nestled, randomly, it
seemed, in the garden were little shrines: a statue of a saint
here, a crucifix there, all with freshly cut flowers arranged
in front of them. The garden had been planted in a crazy patchwork
of vegetables and flowers. Grape bowers served as boundaries separating
the various plantings. Olive and pomegranate trees were scattered
everywhere. Portobello mushrooms grew, like little cities, in
raised boxes of humus. Rose and Lawrence stood alone in the garden.
The three-story stucco building that ringed the garden was roofed
in red tile and slanted in toward the garden. Tendrils of ivy
climbed the walls.
wind break, said Lawrence, maybe. He gazed up
at the white nimbus, laced across the cobalt sky. Although tall
enough to provide a wind break, there was no way, Lawrence knew,
that the walls could chisel out a portion of springtime in the
middle of an Italian winter.
a path, said Rose.
walked, Rose leading in single file down the path, pea-gravel
crunching beneath their feet. Rose stopped and linked her hand
in his. I'm better, she said. Much better.
The path wound, for 25 yards, beneath the bower of wisteria before
it reached massive double doors. The couple stopped and stared
at doors that could secure a bank vault. Swallows banked, swirled,
and fluttered overhead. Lawrence smiled at Rose. He released her
hand and seized the right-hand-doors rusty iron ring with
both hands. Digging his heels into the pea-gravel, he swung the
and Lawrence stepped into the high-ceilinged vestibule of a chapel.
Candles burned and guttered on and around the altar; the air smelled
of incense. Hushed, whispered prayers and Latinate murmurs sounded
in the empty chapel.
one moment were freezing our elbows off, then were strolling
through a Botticelli landscape. She motioned at the altar.
Then we attend a disembodied Mass
know, said Rose. No one passed the collection plate.
laughed. Let's see if someone is in the garden.
in the garden, beneath the wisteria bower, was a wooden table
set with steaming bowls of pasta and chicken. I don't know
where we are, but the food smells wonderful, said Rose.
She sat on an overturned wine cask and filled her plate.
watched Rose eat; she actually had an appetite. She sipped some
red wine: color appeared in her cheeks. Lawrence ignored the food
as he scrutinized Rose.
looked up, a smudge of olive oil glistening on her chin. What?
and Lawrence found a small room on the third story, beneath the
overhanging, terra-cotta-tiled roof. After eating, they sat for
hours at the open window, listening to Latin chants reverberating
from the bowels of the unoccupied stone building. They watched
swallows build nests in the eaves. Tirelessly, the birds flitted
and flew, diving for sticks and twigs to fortify their homes.
Silently the couple held hands and watched the sky above the monastery
darken to violet. A sliver of moon rose over the far wall, barely
illuminating the garden. For hours Rose and Lawrence sat together,
comfortable in silence, knowing that they each shared the same
Rose would live.
searching for a cancer cure they stumbled onto a miracle.
Rose felt and looked happy; healthy. Whole and ecstatic. They
both knew she would live; they would return home. Yet neither
spoke, knowing that words would only destroy these moments. After
midnight they were still speechless, communicating with shared
closed the windows beneath the eaves and led his wife to the tiny
bed in the center of the room. He kissed Rose's eyes and unbuttoned
her blouse. Her hands fumbled at his belt. They stood naked in
the thin moonlight, touching. She smiled, sat, then reclined on
the bed. They made love, slowly, without haste, savoring the moments
by prolonging them. Eyes closed, they made love to memories of
each otheryounger, firmer versions. They recalled all the
afternoons and nights of trying to conceive. Then Rose opened
her eyes, spread her fingers and gently pried Lawrence's lids
apart. Wife and husband stared at each other breathlessly.
you for never giving up, she said. Lawrence hugged his wife,
making love with every part that touched her: his thighs, arms,
stomach and hands. Even with his eyes, as he cried, puddling against
walked slowly toward Rose, who sat beneath a flowering almond
tree. Swallows banked and dove; the sun burned away the dew. He
stepped over a hedge into the almond grove where Rose sat, leaning
against the tree. Tiny white flowers littered her skirt, legs
and bare feet. The grass in the grove was long, clumped and wet.
He leaned against the tree and spoke to Rose: Thirty-seven
years years. Not bad for a mismatched country girl and her beau
from the city. Looking back, I know Id do it all over again
just to sleep on my half of the bed. Just to know that you were
always right there. He laughed. A breeze swirled, dislodging
more flowers. The best part is that through it all we've
remained friends. Lawrence spoke for another minute, remembering
the good times. He spoke of dreams accomplished and unfulfilled.
He said Thank You.
he realized that Rose had stopped breathing.
legs had settled into the grass; her fingers were stark, paler
than the blossoms on her denim skirt. A bee buzzed around her
head. Lawrence bent and brushed the bee away. It reluctantly retreated
from the sweet smell of Rose's perfume. Lawrence kissed her cold
cheek, placed his hand over her heart and said, Goodbye,
Rose. My Rose. He snipped off an almond blossom with his
fingernails. He cupped the flower in his hand. He shut his eyes
and inhaled, happy that Rose had smelled these blossoms once more
before she died. He dropped the flower and the wind blew it across
the grass to Rose's feet.
walked away, slowly, through the garden until he arrived at the
broken fence. Without glancing back at Rose he squeezed through
the ragged hole he had made, back into the proper and uncertain
winds of winter.
* * *
Things are not what they seem to be; nor are
name is Katherine, and Im an alcoholic.
Katherine, responded the fifteen people in the classroom.
The rooms fluorescent lights flickered harshly; a sliver
of moon was scarcely visible outside the window.
said Katherine, its so strange to be back here.
She stood and touched the chalkboard, leaving a glossy handprint
in the residual chalkdust. I went to school here; not just
in this town, but in this room. Third grade; Sister Mary
Louise. Katherine poured herself a cup of coffee, sat, then
blubbered into her hands.
person to her left, a wrinkled man in a Yankees cap, said,
Talk to us, sister. We all been there. The important thing
is that you dont drink. Talk to us.
nodded. Her mascara had puddled. I havent been back
to Petaluma for fourteen years. I live in Portland. I teach English
at Lewis and Clark college. Ph.D., first female chair of the department,
all that. Before I left this town, I weighed ninety pounds. I
drank a quart, sometimes two, of gin a day. Getting by on that
and a lot of speed. I was married, but all that was bullshit.
A teenaged romance that hadnt seen a single sober day. My
husband, Ronnie, was a drummer in a quasi-famous band. King Rat.
remember them, said a balding man. Sleeping with
my Sister went Top Ten, didnt it?
said Katherine. For four, five years it was great. We opened
for Dire Straits, Aerosmith, The Dead. Sexwith everyoneDrugs,
and Rock 'n Roll; just like the movies. Then I had a daughter;
she was born preemie, because of my boozing. I named her Suzanne,
after the Leonard Cohen song. It was about the only decent thing
I ever did for her.
happened? asked the Yankees cap. He listened without judgment,
just as other members of A.A. had listened to his story.
gave Suzanne to my mom and left town. I split and got myself straight.
I quit the speed first. That was easy. I left all my connections
down here; but the booze, shit. Hallucinations, shakes, puking.
I felt like a saint getting down to a pint and a few beers a day
while I was in college, just to maintain and keep the phantasms
away. I still have them, driving at night or when Im stressed.
ever happened to Ronnie? asked the balding man.
dont care, said Katherine. She laughed. Yes,
I do. I hope hes sitting in a meeting like this somewhere.
murmur of approval rippled through the room.
faltered, biting her lower lip. This week, Suzanne and my
mother were killed in a car crash. The funeral was today. It was
terrible. Horrific and confusing. The guilt of abandoning my daughter
and running from responsibility hit me. Hard. My mother and I
had never reconciledshe thought I was a slut and a boozer.
to us, said the black man.
got into trouble this afternoon. I wanted to drink. No, I wanted
to get fucked up. Im staying at my parents...
my fathers house. After the funeral, he had family and neighbors
over. They were drinking. Everyone but me. The house, everything,
was so familiar. I poured a drink. Over ten years sober,
more than ten yearsfour thousand daysof sobriety,
almost shot to hell. I ran from the house, called A.A. and got
to this meeting. Im sober one more day. But Im scared;
as Thomas Wolfe said, 'You cant go home again.'
couldnt sleep. Her father had insisted she stay in her old
bedroom, a room her mother had kept intact, like a shrine, since
Katherine had dropped out of school to tour with King Rat. Her
old bed wasnt big enough; she couldnt stretch out
and relax. She had watched t.v. until 2:30 a.m. and read for an
hour after that, but sleep would not arrive. She threw back the
covers and stood up, the hardwood floor chilling her feet. She
flicked on a lamp and tiptoed across the bedroom to her doll collection.
As a young girl she collected every type of doll imaginable: delicate
porcelain-faced baby dolls, Barbie, Ken, even the scar-faced G.I.
Joes. Katherine pulled her huge Barbie dollhouse off the top shelf.
She returned to the bed and sat cross-legged with the dollhouse
in front of her; it seemed mint and pristine; new and exciting.
longed to dress her Barbie, Ken, and Skipper. To arrange her G.I.
Joes into Action Poses. To play with her dolls the rest of the
nightmorningand forget her failure as a mother; to
allay the anguish and sorrow she felt. To return to a world of
certainty she once had shared with these dolls: before she had
traded these old toys for sucking and fucking and drugs and drinking.
flipped two latches and opened the plastic-red-tiled roof. Barbie,
Ken, Skipper, and the four G.I. Joes were lounging on plastic
chaises. Welcome back, Katherine, said Skipper.
said Katherine. She grabbed Skipper and shook her. Skipper continued
speaking. For me, it began easily enough. I started drinking
right after you stopped playing with us. I know its not
cool to dump on a co-dependent, but its true. After you
lost interest in us, we had to find lives of our own.
parked Skipper in her chaise, closed her eyes and ground the heels
of her hands into the sockets. Tracers exploded across her inner
lids. She exhaled and opened her eyes. The light show had faded
but Skipper still sat cross-legged and smug. For all of
us, Katherine, like you, it led to booze and sex and drugs. Thank
the Higher Power we all made it back to the Barbie and Ken Substance
Abuse Recovery Center. Skipper licked her upper lip and
continued, Id sneak a glass of your mothers
wineIm sorry for your loss, Katherine, trulyat
first that was enough to get me buzzed. Pretty soon Id guzzle
your dads bourbon straight from the bottle. Id drink
NyQuil, cough syrup, anything. Sex with Ken and the Joes was a
natural progression; they were older and bought me booze, fed
me the occasional line of coke so I could stay awake and keep
the fuck-train going. I didnt have sex with one-guy-only
until I found Christ and got sober. Then Skipper said, with
a conspiratorial wink, I kind of miss the gang-bangs. You
know, the groping, the pawing. Thank Jesus Im sober, but
Katherine, I do miss that cluster fucking; the sexual mayhem.
looked to her left at the blue-clad Air Force G.I. Joe. He said,
You look great, Katherine. Continued luck with your recovery.
My problems began in the mid-eighties. I started blackout drinking.
Before me and the boys hit the bars Id slam a pint of vodka
and BOOM! That would get me a nice glow and Id
maintain all night with shots and beers. Then Id pass out.
I never drank socially, just to obtain sweet oblivion. But the
booze wasnt the biggest problem; before I could even think
about quitting I had to come to terms with my sexual identity.
I finally realized I abused myself because I didnt have
the courage to come out of the closet. Funny thing, I fly 116
combat missions in Nam and Im afraid to admit I like
a robust cock up my ass. That macho-military thing cloaked my
sexual preference for years. When I left the Air Force, I turned
to booze. But Im dating a wonderful man right now; hes
been through recovery so he knows what its about. Its
the first stable relationship Ive ever had. I had a slip
last week, but Im fine back here. Back home.
speechless, picked up the next doll, a black Marine G.I. Joe.
I was hooked the first time I shot up, Kate. It was in South
Korea. We were on leave. Looking for some gook pussy when I hooked
up with this brother from Oklahoma. We chased poontang for three
days, drank, fucked, smoked and I said, Kaniel, Bro, it
dont get no better. Thats when he brought out
the needle. I tied off and shot up. Fucking Nirvava! Nothing like
itthe stick of the needle and the rush. I started shooting
up five, six times a day. When I couldnt score I ripped
off first aid kits for the morphine. I snorted raw opium, I didnt
eat. I lost weight, got hepatitis, they gave me a goddam Purple
Heart. Im an addict and they send me home with a medal.
But Ive been doing my time here, girl. Getting myself right.
picked up Malibu Ken and said, What the hell has happened?
can only tell you my story, said Ken. Thats
all thats valid for me. Life was goodafter
you stopped having us do everything together, I finally got Barbie
out of my life. I finished my B.S. in Microbiology and was accepted
into U.C.L.A. Med School. I started dating girls with nipples!
Then my internshipconsecutive twenty-hour daysyouve
got to do bennies to get through. Everyone in med school uses
them. So you pop a few, not for a high, just to get through the
you cant sleep. No sweat! Wash down a couple of Seconal
with a quart of Coors Light and youre snoring like a baby.
But you wake up fuzzy. No problem, a couple of whites and the
motors purring. What a rollercoaster! After a year I said
Fuck It! and moved back to Malibu where I manage the
Golds Gym. I do a couple of weeks a year here, just to launder
the bronzed Ken for Army G.I. Joe, Katherine didnt have
a chance to speak. Im a victim, he said. All
these assholes say Im in denial, but thats bullshitif
I ever hear the word denial again Im gonna do the
Twelve Fucking Steps on someones fucking forehead. Listen,
I busted my ass in VietnamI know that it aint popular
to say thisbut Im proud of the job I did over
there and Id go again tomorrow if my country needed me.
So twenty years after the fact I develop lymphatic cancer because
I got shit on one-too-many times by Agent Orange. I have a series
of operationsVA picked up the tab, they were great, dont
believe a single word you hear about them in the fucking mediabut
I needed Chemotherapy. And the Chemo drives you apeshit. So I
start puffing some weed, you know, like an appetizer with breakfast,
lunch, and dinner. Two years of chemo, Im cured but I cant
make it through the day without five, six joints. Turns out I
get busted on a Possession with Intent to Sell and if I dont
do this candyass program I lose my job and do jail time. Dont
tell me Im not a fucking victim.
tossed him to the bed and picked up Barbie. Katherine was sweaty,
dry-mouthed, and disoriented. The turning point, for me,
said Barbie, was when a priest paid me to
cant talk about it. Id been hooking about two yearscoked
out of my witsbut I was class. No scumbag hotels, no park
bench action. Penthouses, private parties only. A grand for a
straight lay, fifteen-hundred for suckie-fuckie, a deuce for Around
the World. Hey, I used to be a STAR. So what if most of
the money went straight up my nose, I still had a wardrobe, I
traveled. I put Ken through collegethe ungrateful eunuch
always conveniently forgets to mention that. But I was
doing okay, I unloaded that grotesque pink Vette and bought a
black Porsche. But when Father Dominic gave me two-grandcollection
plate money!to dress up as the Virgin Mary and suck him
off in the confessional I knew my life was out of control. So
Im back here and doing better; and even if he wont
admit it, I still think Ken feels something for me.
replaced Barbie. Only G.I. Joe Navy remained mute. As a child,
he was Katherines favorite: the golden crewcut and blue
eyes more than compensated for the scar on his cheek. She caressed
the dungaree-clad sailor. I tried quitting, Katherine. But
I cant and I dont care. Ill never amount to
anything, but Im carrying around a slab of shrapnel in my
leg, Im on permanent disability and Im gonna blow
every fuckin cent on booze and drugs. Fuck the taxpayers!
My goal is to waste their money. Why not? America wasted
my life. When I was nineteen, I should have been playing
football and balling cheerleaders at Ohio State; but I lose my
student deferment and Im up to my ass in blood. Fuck it;
Im staying marinated for the rest of my life. America owes
me that. He lit a joint and exhaled.
was sitting next to Katherine on the bed, staring into her eyes.
He offered the joint to Katherine, who waved it away. Youd
be amazed at how easy it is to score dope in here. He looked
around the room, then down at the teeny dollhouse. In there.
He snuffed the joint between thumb and finger and swept the dollhouse
from Katherines bed. Fucking hypocrites.
returned the joint to his pocket and kissed Katherine, a soft
muted lingering greeting. They touched and tasted for a long minute
before she abandoned his lips and caressed the crease of his scar
with her lips and then her tongue. He unbuttoned her short nightshirt
and guided her backwards onto the rumpled bedsheet. Im
words, said Katherine. He closed her eyes. We hear
too many words. Show me.
brushed her eyes, nipples, and belly button with his lips before
he arrived at her hedge. Henna and unruly, growing slightly into
the furrow of her upper thighs, he took the upper junction of
her lips where he supposed her clit washe couldnt
see through the bushand bit with the pressure hed
use to crush a grape. Katherine moaned; he felt her brim swell
and smelled the moisture that puddled against his chin. He backed
off, used his fingers to roll back the hairy lips and tickled
her urethra as he watched her clit redden and engorge. With his
tongue he coaxed the fleshy teardrop between his lips and rolled
it in time with Katherines low groans. He dragged his chin
through the jungle covering her pubic bone and left a moist trail
that led to her breasts. He augmented her juices with his saliva
and slid his face and lips across her neck and breasts. Each time
his scar passed roughly over her nipples Katherine sobbed and
threw her head back into the pillow. He cupped her left breast
and trilled his disfigured cheek across her nipple. He clamped
his free hand over her mouth and nostrils and forced the sobs
to resonate and echo inside her. He released her nostrils and
with her breath arrived a gushing release for Katherine, who had
proven Thomas Wolfe not only wrong, but moot.
one ever truly leaves home behind.