How I Became MIRANDA
Lining the shelves in the kitchen of the apartment were sheets of old, sticky Con-Tact Paper. Maraschino red paint colored the wooden cabinets. It was a place where avocado green appliances still existed. It was the ugliest kitchen ever created, and it was Miranda’s, sort of. It was half Miranda’s, the other half belonged to her roommate, Tim. It wasn’t the ideal situation to live with a stranger, and a male one at that, but it was a place where Miranda could put her bed, shut her door, and be alone. And the rent wasn’t too high for an eighteen-year old Albertson’s employee.
Education was important to Miranda’s mother, and independence was important to Miranda. A week after she graduated from high school, Miranda moved to Eugene, Oregon, the city where the University of Oregon was located. It was also where her father lived. Miranda had been able to find a job quickly, and the apartment had been found for her by a girl that she had gone to high school with who worked at an apartment agency. It was the only thing that had been quick.
Wait. Waiting. Waits. Waited. Everything had been based on one verb. The last time that she’d been in this city, she was eight years old. That was when she was beginning to realize that she was a dramatic person. Every break of a crayon, or tangle of a doll’s hair, every stumble in dance class was carefully noted and exaggerated in her developing mind.
When her father told her that he was moving to a new house, and she and her mother were not going with him, it had been a blow. She thought about her second dance recital that year. She had the same urgent feeling in her stomach, shooting a regretful fire into her cheeks.

In therapy, she drew with crayons. Each colorful, waxy tip reminded her of one that her father had given her, and she had broken. Her pictures were bright and she rarely drew anything except flowers—flowers were the most beautiful things to Miranda. They were so simple, so strong and delicate. She never really got anything out of counseling because she wouldn’t tell the psychologist what she was really thinking. In fact, the only things she took away from her experience besides a folder full of refrigerator art, was the idea of keeping a journal.

23rd May 1999
This is when I wonder if I really believe in God. Last night I got one of those e-mails that are excessively long and overly personal. Usually, I try to be witty when filling out these e-mails, but the one I got last night really bugged me.
“Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” Otis Redding
That was my answer to the following question: What song best describes your love life at this moment?
I just keep letting them roll by; men, I mean. I see some that I wouldn’t mind sleeping with, but mostly I see a lot of losers. Loser not meaning that these guys are total putzes, just that they aren’t winning my vote for Stud of the Year or Potential Life Partner.
I don’t hate men. Actually, I’m quite entertained by them. I love that they aren’t like women, that they can “take it easy” and not be worried about whether or not they have clean underwear. Just as long as he’s not demanding that I wash his dirty Fruit of the Looms.
Anyway, so I got that e-mail and I decided that I would actually go sit on a dock by the bay. I was feeling dramatic and melancholy, so I wasn’t really going to be sociable if anyone talked to me, but I was going to at least grunt.
I never made it to the bay; it rained.
Sometimes I think that I have a beautiful soul.
There is a heaven because not everyone who has premarital sex can fit in Hell. Unless of course, Hell is infinitely large…then a lot of people could be screwed…

“Miranda, you are the most random person that I know.”
I had decided to share some of my thoughts about why I should go out and have sex without worrying about what the Church thought. Tim did not seem impressed. But then again, he hadn’t been raised in the Catholic Church. What Tim did not know was that I watched his lips when he spoke. Actually, I always watch his lips and wonder what it would be like to just kiss him. I am not particularly attracted to Tim, he’s only 5’5” and I like tall guys, but I cannot stop that curious animal instinct that says, “Test him out.”
“I have an interesting personality. I am not one of those little so-hos or one of those girls who is into Martha Stewart. Tradition I like, but mundane stupidity is not a virtue.”
Oh, what a witty reply on Tim’s part. Maybe he didn’t understand what I just said. I didn’t understand it either. But that shit is so typical of me.
“Come on Miranda. I want to go get Top Gun at Blockbuster.”

The entire trip to Blockbuster I think about my dad. He lived across the country, but now we live in the same city, yet he still haunts the radio, the mountains, and yellow trucks. There is this picture of me when I was about 3 years old, standing in front of my dad’s brand new yellow Toyota truck. I look like the perfect Eighties commercial child. My primary color, striped shirt is tucked into my red corduroy pants, which just barely cover the tops of my little girl tennis shoes. I stand at an angle, my blonde hair wispy and floating from a mild coastal breeze. There is another picture kind of like this that was taken when I was five, except I am sitting on the beach; that was the last Christmas that my parents were married. I’m not looking at the camera in either picture.

“Rand, you coming?” Tim was once again calling me back into the realm of reality. We had somehow ended up in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Hadn’t we just been at Blockbuster?
“Yeah, I was just fixing your gimpy-ass seat belt.”
“Hey! My truck is not gimpy!”
“Tim, did I say that your truck was gimpy? No, I said that your seat belt was gimpy-ass.” All of that effort just to cover up the fact that I had been thinking about the past yet again. “I always get the dang thing twisted.”
“Oh, well, forget about it. Come on; it’s cold out here.” With those words, Tim grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the entrance doors. It was so easy for him to just touch people. There were no thoughts about what the other person would think; it was casual and normal.
“What are we getting here? I need a couple of things, if we have time.” My apologetic speech patterns were beginning to emerge. I was not going to slip back into the person that I used to be. But I wasn’t kidding myself, I knew that my confidence only came in phases and my emotions were really telling me what to do. I would submit to almost anything.

13th August 2000
Interesting thought: Songwriters are usually drunks. At least the ones I like are.
I keep dreaming about a guy that I used to have a really big crush on. It was deeper than a regular high school crush; I am a picky person, so it takes a lot for me to fall into like with someone. All I could ever do when I talked to him was insert stupid comments about my grandfather; my grandfather who had recently died of cancer and who I found out had gone to my dream guys dream college. The vigil my family held for my grandfather included me sitting up in the middle of the night talking to my mother’s non-lucid father. I talked about Mr. Dream. Why did I do that? What scares me is that I miss the guy from high school more than I miss my grandfather. Perhaps I had more resolution with death.
I’m afraid that I will never be a mother.

Nothing real can live up to my romantic ideals.
We sat in my ugly green chair under my prized wool blackwatch plaid blanket. There were only two things in my life that made me feel more joy…
The most intimate part of any relationship happens when you share a bed with someone. Though sex is intimate, it is not my main focus. No, the best thing is lying next to each other, feeling the other person’s warm breath on your neck, pressing your back into his chest just a little bit as he pressed into your body, his arm gently secure around your ribs, his hand resting just below your breast. His soft words becoming part of you, his trust in your heart and yours in his…This is why we live. Too bad none of this has actually happened to me.

I met Evelyn at St. Joseph’s Hospital when I was twenty-one. It was destined I guess, because it happened that we were the only two people in the waiting room that were not crowned with white hair, and I guess it was God’s way of trying to ease our nerves. The self-pity quotient rises sharply when you are the only non-geriatric person waiting for test results that might tell you that you are going to die sometime in the near future.
Well, Evelyn and I found each other and we could each feel a bit less tragic knowing that another young person might die too. We were each alone, but not solitary.
It was the first day that I met Evelyn when she told me about her name. Though her name was lovely and romantic, it was not popular in modern times.
“It’s a pity,” said Evelyn, “because I fell in love with my name the first time I heard it. That’s why I chose it.”
“I wouldn’t know how to choose a name for myself. I’m just Miranda.”
Anyway, Evelyn had grown up with what she thought was the wrong name for her, and she always knew she’d change it when she was old enough, just like she knew that she would hear her new name and instantly love it. She was so confident. And indeed, it did happen when she watched the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes.” She became Evelyn Rose on April 8th, 1997.

I had been at the hospital that day because I was pregnant. Abortion was never part of the plan in my life, but neither was Evelyn. She has chosen life, and I was about to choose death. I felt like Maverick in Top Gun, living without regard for life. Only, I couldn’t fly an airplane. Goose was more who I wanted to be like. Goodness gracious, great balls of fire! Hell, yes! Music and love and sex and family, that’s what I needed.

I told her about Michael. How I had dreamt about him, and he had come back. How he had said he loved me and I almost got sick from the shock. I loved him more than I loved myself, and Evelyn was the only person I ever told. I couldn’t tell Michael.
We saw each other at the hospital a lot after that. Her blond hair fell out and I cut mine. She bought me a locket. “To put the baby’s picture in,” she said. I bought her flowers every week. I bought her a tomato plant. She told me stories. She didn’t have a funeral. She had no family and I was her only real friend. I scattered her ashes. She became a part of something larger.

“Tim, will you drive me to the hospital when I have my baby?”
“What about Michael? Randa, did he leave again?”
“He got stationed in Georgia, and I told him that I would never leave Eugene. He said, ‘I hope you have a great life then, Miranda. I love you.’ Pretty fucked up, huh?”
“You just let him go?”
“He told me he never wanted to see his child! How could I be with someone that would say that?”
“Miranda, you don’t get it do you? He loves you! He has always loved you. He didn’t say he didn’t want to see the baby—he said he didn’t want to see you.” Tim’s outrage was growing, I could see it in his light brown eyes. “He was angry! He came back here in the first place because of you! He hates this place, but you are here. Now he has the opportunity to get out, go somewhere different, new, and you throw away his love and sacrifices just because you don’t want to leave this damn city because your fucking dad lives here?!”
There was no way he could actually be saying these things. Tim never spoke so honestly.
“He doesn’t even talk to you Rand! He lives in his fucking cabin by the river so he can go fishing whenever the hell he feels like it! Does he ever call you? No. Does he write to you? No. Does he invite you to go fishing with him? No! What the fuck are you doing?”
“He used to take me fishing when I was little.” Those were the only words I could focus on. He used to take me fishing. I was no longer little.
The picture of the yellow truck was in my mind now. I could feel the cool, slick paint beneath my small, white fingers. It was not real. Was Michael real? All of the Plato that I had learned was making me wonder if I was in the cave. Was I refusing to let Michael lead me into the sunlight?
I couldn’t believe that my reckoning was coming from Tim. Dopey; short Tim. “Will you Tim? Please.”
“Yeah. Call him Rand.”
I couldn’t speak after that. What was I doing?

15th March 2002
Michael sent me a letter today with five hundred dollars in it. I started having contractions after I opened it. It was odd timing.
Please come to Georgia. I need you. I hope $500 is enough money. I love you.
I decided to put the money in a savings account for my daughter, Eva. I will send Michael a picture of her and a thank you note for the money. He will understand.

“Mommy! Will you help me build a sand castle?” Four -year old Eva’s blue eyes were glowing with delight. Her first trip to the beach was proving to be a good one. She had already collected a pail full of seashells and her next mission was underway.
“I would love to assist you my dear!” We spent forty-five minutes digging and trenching so our castle would stand atop a glorious hill. Our work had just begun though, for we had a grand fortress to construct. After an hour of wetting and packing the California sand, we were finished. I turned to my beaming daughter, “This should be captured on film.”
Eva’s blonde hair was sailing above the sea like a mariner’s flag. She wasn’t looking at the camera. Instead she was staring loftily at her castle. It was hers, like she was mine. It was a selfish gaze. My own image on the beach, in front of the truck, crying when I left with my mother, crying when Michael left; they were all there in my Eva.
She was everything in my life and I had denied her what had been taken away from me, what had disabled me emotionally. I was making her into me. Michael wanted her. Hell, he’d sent letters, cards, and had even called. Why was I keeping him so distant? He wanted her. He had wanted me. Eva’s father wanted to be allowed to love her. I felt the guilt swell up in my heart; I felt evil.
I was jealous. No more was I the object of desire; Michael had given up on me. He didn’t love me anymore, but he loved Eva. How could he love me when I had taken everything away from him?
“I love my name.” Evelyn’s words were bringing me deeper into my realization. I loved my pain. I loved my daughter. I loved Michael. I did not love myself.

28th June 2006
Dear Michael,
I am sorry that I haven’t written you with news of Eva. She has been getting taller, and she is very smart. She can read. I took her to the beach and she loved it. I think we brought some of the sand back with us in our shoes… How are the schools in Georgia?
Love Always,