I've written a couple of good stories in my life. I know they were good only because of the effect they had on the people whose opinion I cared about at the time I wrote them. The first time, it was a story from the point of view of a guy in college who had been going through chemo, whose girlfriend was in the process of leaving him because he was so withdrawn emotionally that she couldn't connect with him anymore. I didn't think of it that way at the time. All I was thinking about when I wrote it, was making the room into a character in the story. The rest just came. And I could see everything in it as if it were happening in front of me. As if I were the guy, living it. That wasn't unusual, so how could I judge? All my stories seem real to me, and I can remember them visually, the way I can remember episodes from my own very real life.
I'll never forget though, what it felt like to have my elderly creative writing prof, when it was his turn to speak in the class, say, in his Truman Capote squeak of a voice, "You have written a successful story." I don't think anything else from that month, maybe the year, mattered as much to me. Milton White thought my story a success. That it had a beginning, a middle, and an end, and you the reader gave a fuck what they were. And yet when my firstborn son, the same age as my protagonist, contracted leukemia, I never once thought of that story. Not till tonight. My protagonist never once thought of his parents. All he thought of was-- how can she be leaving me?
And I know that was what was on Jesse's mind, in November of 2006. He was worried about finishing his first semester of law school. But mostly he was worried about losing L. More than one text on his phone from that month consisted of one of the most poignant two word sentences in the English language: Come home.
I'll wait for you to let that crash in on you the way it does on me. If you go back to say, March 2007, right after Jesse died, you'll see one of my first dreams of him was him saying, can I come home now? I still hear his voice. And myself saying, Oh yes, always. Please come back.
I would shake the rafters of heaven till he dropped down.
The second story, I thought of first, tonight. Still not sure why. Comparing not the narrator, but her boyfriend, the main character, to a pear growing inside a bottle thrust onto the branch that had created it from a blossom. I gave it to a friend to read, and he wrote me a letter, I probably still have it somewhere, identifying with that image so profoundly that I felt guilty that I'd ever asked him read to it, even though it had nothing whatsoever to do with him. I couldn't have known it would resonate like that, but it mattered to me that I could do that.
Sometimes I forget that I can write. Sometimes I think of the awful cliches that have appeared under my fingertips and despair. Here's the thing: life, for lack of a better term, is a cliche, as much as it is terrifyingly individual and strange. All that I've suffered is just the price of admission. When you look at the long arc of human history and all that has been endured, how can you dare to pity yourself? How can I?
Maybe there is nothing after this. I don't care. Maybe the last electrical, chemical impulses of your brain are all that stand behind our species consciousness of an afterlife. Maybe that brief last tour of all we have felt and seen seems an eternity, like the event horizon on a black hole, to those inside it. Does that matter? Don't you still want that to be something fine, if there's no escaping it?
Monday, May 21, 2012
Yes, I've been avoiding you. I don't want to sob on your shoulder about my job as a small overripe fruit in a very large blender full of chaos. I don't want to talk about Jesse's birthday, because I'll cry about that, too. I can't even put my finger on what exactly sucks so much, because I've gotten in two fantastic hikes that left me exhausted and happy, without breaking a bone (for once); my coworkers are starting to like me (suckers), I'm making enough money to support us both and sock a bit away; which is good because hubby and I are tight again. He just spent Saturday spotting me on my unintentionally vertical climb up a rock face, which is definitely an act of love because I was really gonna fall pretty much most of the time. I'd think my life was going ok (considering), except that most of the time I just want to be in bed, except when I'm trying to fall asleep, not a successful project most nights. When I try to write, I mostly just stare at the screen. Pretty much everything that requires thought or planning is at a standstill. Including my
Oh well. There it all went again.
Oh well. There it all went again.