Cathy Jamison takes the rest of the chili to her brother Sean, in his makeshift crazy-looking Mad Max habitat; she assures him it's leftovers, that she would have thrown it away if not for him. She doesn't get out of the car; she notices how handsome her brother is, here at the end of the night. She takes a picture of him. His oversimplified self, the brother she still fights with her fists, this cartoon raging at the world on a mountain of trash, is also a person, a human, a man. A beautiful one: "No wonder my friend Holly had such a crush on you in high school. She'd come over to hang out. I'd catch her in your room staring at your clothes... It grossed me out to think of you two together, so I told her you were gay." Adding some spice, he winks, to the fact that he took Holly's virginity. She can't even pretend to be grossed out this time; Cathy Jamison loves nothing more than to be shocked. She laughs and he feels closer to her than he has a long time. Better than fighting, better than judging.
"...Oh. I'm gonna burn my couch in the backyard on Friday, if you want to come over for a bonfire."
Ultimately, Cathy is tired of the self she has. It was safe, neutral once. Once it had a few good years still left in it. That is no longer the case.
The Cathy these people know wasn't quite a lie and wasn't quite the truth. We respond to needs, and roles; to the people around us, and sometimes that means indulging their worst qualities just so we have something to push against. Indulging their fantasies of what we can do to balance them out. Sometimes it means relaxing into their simplified ideas about us, safe and neutral, and flipping the cushions on the things that would confuse or hurt them. You can end up a long way from where you started. But everybody is a riot of color, just beneath the surface.
"And I could do chemo," explains Cathy Jamison, sitting in the dark, "But I'd just be buying a little more time, and it would mean a lot of people taking care of me, and it's just not my thing." She's on that couch speaking to someone.
Paul's hand drifted down to her ass as he was escorting her into dinner; that lovely red dress. She smiled and they were familiar and the hostess looked at them and thought, what a lovely couple. They were simplified and cartoonish, small and flat, a perfect photograph, and for a second they loved it. For that moment they were allowed to love it.