"We, I mean we wore these, we wore them everywhere. We wore them to the Heart concert. We wore them everywhere. We thought we looked so hot," they say. Cathy turns to Rebecca, like a well-rehearsed vaudeville duo, which is what they are:
"And apparently you did," Cathy smiles. "Because you met that guy at the concert, and then I had to get a ride back to the campus with those sorority girls... The sorority girls who I just recognized even though I... Yeah, you should be sorry." Rebecca grins; this is their story. "I've been wondering all these years, did you get home okay?" Cathy throws back her head and laughs. Yes. Yes, she did get home okay. No, it doesn't matter.
But before there was Rebecca there was Sean, she'll think later. After the party, she'll think it in the silent rooms. And after Rebecca there was Paul. And now there is Lenny and there is death. Somebody to carry her, and to be carried. A surprise that is a burden and a burden that is a surprise joy. Another way of defining yourself against something wild. Did she get home okay? Yes. But where she goes from there is no concern of yours.
The big question is this, as she compacts her life to portability, to make sense of it: What happens when there is no other wild one? When the wild one is you? Jerky fits and starts, awkwardness, blunt rudeness sometimes and harmless backslides. Attempts again and again at extemporaneous living: To collapse the splitting selves into one authentic Cathy. To give Paul her stability and take a measure of his wildness in turn so that they can both go on their journeys more whole.
First Sean and then Rebecca and now Paul, she thinks: And all of them are on a freight train with a top speed of one million miles an hour. And me, standing here, as it passes by. When I've spent my whole life begging them to slow down for me: I get off the train, and the train keeps going.
What the hell?
Paul's "rat bastard of a dad" took off on his mother, before her children were grown. Left her high and dry, with two children to feed. Only Cathy knows that Paul had to wear his sister's hand-me-down pants to school. Now Lenny knows, too. "She's a big girl," Paul grins, "And still is, but I mean, come on." Lenny delights in this cruelty, because it is harmless. Lenny knows what cruelty is. "We didn't have enough money to buy me a backpack for school," he admits. Lenny and his brother went to school with suitcases. Known as the Suitcase Kids. Paul laughs, impressed, and looks Lenny in the eye. "I don't have any black friends."