Monday, March 28, 2011

The Forum

The problem with trying to love a writer doesn’t surface until you realize that to them are you a character. The subtlety of their lessons are exposed when you try flattery- You learn that all the imaginative words you come up with will sound forced when you read them later on. You’ll be embarrassed by how naive and open you were with someone so critical.

My mother use to call it lying; when I would twist the facts of a story as I re-told it. I called it creativity. Later, in college, I learned that a good writer is always editing and revising the details of what actually happened until they find a truth they are happy with. However you look at it… lying, being creative, or revising… once you cross over into the life of a writer you are never the same. You will find yourself lost inside a catalog full of the strongest convictions you've ever heard being negated over and over.

When you meet, it happens on page 125. The season is fall and that’s what you tell your friends. She tells you that it's the best season because apple picking is one of her favorite things to do. She wins you over with a story about how she has to taste at least one apple from each tree before she commits to picking from it. This way, she doesn't risk getting home and hating the taste of all her hard work. She finishes the story by adding that it was true, and describes herself at 7 year old holding a bag of tasteless apples. She pictures you, picturing her as a child and your smile gives you away. That’s what she puts down.

Following her example, you learn to appreciate pumpkin patches and before you know it, you’re drinking apple cider out of a jug. You have no idea where the jug came from, but you don’t ask. You’re happy. You even catch yourself stepping on leaves and listening to the crunch as your heel then toe, then heel then toe presses down on your way to work. She pictures you doing this, thinking of her and chuckling to yourself- she sees it. She creates your movements.

By November, you learn that the weeks between fall and winter are her arch nemesis. Something has crushed her heart but you can't find what. If you knew better, you would jump to page 32 and discover before you were introduced, she knew a man who was born in November that broke her heart. All of this was very quick- the relationship did not last the chapter. You read that all that remains of this man is an email kept behind a picture in her living room.

On page 145, when you look for the email, you discover it doesn’t exist. It’s not until you are surrounded by disassembled frames and broken glass do you turn to page 75 when she burns all her past love letters as a way to start fresh.

What’s happening here is that you are learning you never had a chance. Before you can get the words from your mouth she’s already written them down how she wants to hear them. She will have written you in and out as fast as you can say “I love you.”

And that is when you realize that the problem with loving a writer is that they know before you when you love them. They've described the pain you feel when they leave a room so vividly that you find yourself crying at night. While you lay in bed alone craving her warmth, you do not remember missing her at that moment, but the feeling is so sudden you are overcome with emotion and cannot stop yourself from weeping. She pictures this, you wrapped up in blankets of scent sleeplessly lying in bed, and she adds it in.

If you’re lucky, on page 324 she’ll refer to you in passing and you will notice its you by characteristic only – “I once knew this guy who would always get up for karaoke after 3 beers. He sang the same annoying Lady Antebellum song off key, but knew all the words perfectly. What was the name of that song?” She’ll add that she can’t remember your name, but focus most of the paragraph on the name of the song. Sometimes, you want to call her and let her know the song was not even by Lady Antebellum.

On page 63, she is telling someone “I hate apples- always have, always will... I have a weak stomach and the skin gets stuck in the spaces between my teeth.”

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