I was already mad at you.
But you were excited, caught up, in the world of Jacoby’s mind. So you didn’t see me pouting, setting my jaw, staring blankly out of the window. You didn’t feel the silence or hear my monosyllabic responses to your inane questions. You’re a smart kid, Jacoby, but sometimes you just don’t pay attention.
Before the trip, I hadn’t noticed this about you. Or I guess I had, but only as unrelated incidences not indicative of an overarching inability to get out of your head and notice how other people are feeling.
Like that time at Megan’s, when I was exhausted and just wanted to leave. But Carroll had that new game and you were playing and you didn’t want to quit. “Just let me beat this level, Liv.”
“You must be wiped, Liv. I’ve got some coffee I can heat up?” Megan noticed and you didn’t.
I’d thought you were being selfish, a typical boy with his video games. Now I know. You just didn’t notice I was pissed.
Or like that time at church when you were telling the group we were standing in about your sister’s engagement story, and you didn’t see Lee’s eyes pleading for you to shut up, or the girl next to her’s fake smile as she listed to what I’ll admit is a super romantic engagement story. I noticed. I tried to cut you off. Lee tried to cut you off. But it’s a good story and you were happy for your sister and you wanted to tell it. So you did. And we found out later that Lee had brought that girl to church that Sunday because her fiance had just broken it off with her and she didn’t want to go to their usual church and run into him or their friends.
And I got mad at your for it and you just kept saying, “How was I supposed to know?”
This is what I was thinking as I stared out of the car window. You were going on and on about the city of Philadelphia, which we were driving by in hour 1,000 of our car trip.
And then you said it. You would’ve known not to say it, or to say it in a different way, or to expect a negative reaction, or something, if you had bothered to look at my face.
“I have another surprise,” you said.
I had to close my eyes so I couldn’t see that stupid grin on your face. “I hate surprises.” I made my tone as cold as I could, but you went on anyways.
“I know, but, Liv, we’re not going to Carroll’s.” You said this like it was a good thing.
“What do you mean, we’re not going to Carroll’s? Why am I here if we’re not going to Carroll’s? You tell me two days ago that we’re going on this trip, for Carroll’s birthday I might add, and I hadn’t done laundry and I had to cancel plans with Lee and get off work and drive for ten hours and you know I hate car trips and now we’re not even going to Carroll’s?”
“Nope,” you said, like that’s what I wanted to hear. “Well, I mean, we’ll see Carroll. Of course we’ll see Carroll; it’s his birthday. But that’s not where we’re staying.”
I breathed deeply. “Jacoby, I’m over it. Stop making it out like it’s some game and just tell me what we’re doing here. Please.”
You glanced over at me, and for the first time all trip your smile faded, and you looked nervous.
“I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to be anxious or scared or anything and I wasn’t absolutely positive it was going to happen. And I also thought there was a chance you might not come if…”
You shrugged, smiling weakly.
“We’re going to stay with my parents.”