She told me once while drinking cocktails at a bar I never go to– your stories don’t hold the same authority, why can’t you use that voice everywhere? The voice she spoke of is here, it’s this, is now. Graduate school slowly stealing the lyricism from my narrative while it teaches me what narrative is. I don’t know what is most important anymore. I try to write stories but they feel one-dimensional and contrived and a sad attempt at something I keep on saying I am good at. My characters are projections, my plot is flaccid, my weather is redundant. If I were not me, these are things I would say upon having read my stories.
And what of it? If the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results, than have I not truthfully grown insane in my ways? Is there some peace in being okay with this?
I feel spun out in circles. California for the holidays feels like time travel, feels like my old life, feels like standing still. I read that I wrote one year ago, I cannot write here. I cannot write here. It is insane for me to think of how this past year has unspun itself or wound itself together. You never really can tell what direction we are moving in. Life is not a short story. The plot is weak at best.
My sister visits her friend in the hospital and even though I never go I think about it a lot. I think about the sound of small metal wheels against the flooring and the tick of small machines. I think about food on trays and sterile air and the metal casings around the windows. I imagine the way she sits in those chairs meant for people visiting for long hours and how she probably brings in coffee with her and looks at her phone while he falls asleep. I think about the people in the next room, next to a room I have never even been in.
Then I think about my grandmother who is dying so slowly she says, let’s get on with it. And in a very Sylvia Plath way I think about how we are all dying slowly and quickly at the same time. Because I don’t really understand what time is.
In my newest story three girls are driving in a rental car through Bakersfield. One of the girls, her boyfriend died in a motorcycle accident. It probably has something more than a lot to do with thinking about my sister at the hospital. It probably isn’t a very good story.