May 17th, 2015, Sunday
A lazy, lovely, voluptuous day. The both of us a little hungover.
“What are you thinking?” I say to Andrew.
He rolls over. “I’m thinking that the vessel in the middle of my head is a big one.”
I laugh, instantly gleeful, like a kid who’s found a wonderful stone. “Oh, I’m using that!” I say, emailing it to myself on my phone, and he smiles, pleased.
"How can you know who she is, if you don't read her work?" Christopher had said to him, a little fiercely, late in our party the night before.
We were all coming back from somewhere- the Royal American; a strange punk show, more people in the band than in the pit, a slow motion mosh pit of three, and then suddenly there was a fist fight- over what?- and everyone swept outside-
Andrew didn’t answer him, he was singing, swinging Aerie around on his back. I made some blurry excuse, everyone said goodnight. When the last of them had folded away, “I love you, I love you!” the thick, sleepy silence of our house without them seemed abrupt, aquatic. And then Andrew was snoring on the sofa, I couldn't move him.
He doesn't remember this part of things; now we're in the kitchen, talking about it.
"But I do know who you are, I know what's in your book," Andrew says, merrily. "Rape, suicide, death, death, more death- rape-"
"Well, Jesus," I say, a little taken aback; "I mean, yes, but that's like saying- I mean, plot is maybe the least important part of literature, that's like saying a dinner party is all about the seating arrangement; and maybe in one sense, it is- but really it's about the conversation-"
Yammering on as we put together breakfast. Croissants, a coconut from down the street. Blackest coffee. I want to loll about in the sunshine a bit, finishing Vineland, before we run out this afternoon to buy some chickens with our rooommate, he and Andrew have cobbled together a coop-
"Anyway, you know who I am," I say to him. But isn't this a lie? Is it possible to ever truly know all of someone? We can only, necessarily, see the facets they let us see- the facets we are able to see-
I have a scene about this in Evening’s Land:
I was only sixteen. Matthew was twenty. He had a motorcycle, his own house, everything. He knew who he was, where he was going. “What’s wrong?” he’d say.
“I’m confused. This happened so fast, how can you really know who I am? How can you really love me?”
He’d look wounded. “But that’s what we’re doing. We’re finding each other out. That’s what a relationship is.”
“But I mean, you can’t ever really know another person, can you? You just see a couple facets of them. But who they really are, that’s locked up.” I tapped my head. “Bone goblet, no key.”
“What are you saying?”
“I mean maybe the only way you can ever know someone is to grow up together. I think maybe I miss Ada.”
He shrugged. “So call her.”
“What are you doing?”
He was rolling an undershirt into his ball-cap. “Packing,” he said. “Let’s take a trip. You and me. I have to go to Colorado to see a guy, you want to come?”
“They gotta to do a count before they send the courier, I gotta take him this.” Matthew put money in my hand. “What do you think of that?” He grinned, watching my face. “That’s twenty K, how’s it feel?”
I’m hardly in a position to be acting affronted though. It was a great party, we all overdid it- especially me. Our friends chanting, “Paula Paula balla’ balla’ balla’!!”- at one point I was lurching around in the kitchen trying to explain to a lovely, articulate and especially empathetic friend how it would be so much easier if their elderly dogs died.
This is me: “You guys, spend the night!”
T: “Ah, we’d love to, but we have to get home and let the dogs out.”
Me: “Nooo. Wait, wait- I was thinking, do you ever just want them to die? I mean, it would be so much easier, you’d be free…”
T was appalled, but hid it well… “But you see, they’re our children…”
“I mean, I know, but-” Now, what I was trying to work towards was to tell him about this realization I’d had about freedom back in April, when we were dogsitting their sweet pups. I wrote about it:
April 25th, Saturday:
" ...Suddenly it occurred to me, guiltily, how much easier, how much free-er, their lives would be if their dogs were to die. Then they could travel at a moments notice, guilt-free. But conversely, I thought, stirring the pot of syrup, how much less of a home you have, without any animals. And then I realized that to be really and utterly free is to be without a home, without any root in the world.
How sad- really, how lonely, true freedom would be. It is our obligations that weave us to locus, to place."
Of course, what came out instead was “Hrr! Dogs die!”
Foot in mouth… fortunately, most of what I say to my dear, long-suffering friends hardly makes sense anyway, so maybe he took it in stride.
What a funny entry. Am a bit young to be self-referential!
Anyway. With a cold to keep me honest, I was relatively responsible this past weekend: got all on top of office work, so can spend most of the day today working on Savages, which is coming along in fits and starts. Trying to keep myself distracted while feedback on EL trickles slooowly in... want to have a full spectrum of responses to consider when/ if I'm told to revisit it. And patience is not my strong suit...
P.Z. West's first novel, EVENING’S LAND, is a Library Journal Self-e Selection, winner of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Award and recipient of the Carol Marie Smith Memorial Scholarship for the NOEPE Center of Literary Arts.
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