I forgot a pen today. Forgot. A. Pen. I also woke up twenty-two minutes before class started (it takes, on average, 9.7 minutes to make my morning sprint up the hill to campus), threw on the clothes I wore yesterday (plus a scarf), tossed my hair around for a second (after it fell out of my first-attempt bobby-pinned bun), and left without breakfast (this is actually not that unusual).
Made it to the humanities building three minutes before the bell rang. Felt pretty smug about it, too, until I tried to take notes.
I am lost impossible incapacitated without a writing instrument of any sort.
Spent most of that morning lecture in various stages of irrational anxiety and practically sprinted to the nearest copy room the second class let out.
me: Do you perhaps have a pen I could buy?
kid at the counter: (looks around, vaguely, shaking his head)
kid at the counter: . . .
kid at the counter: I've got one you could have, for free.
me: For keeps?!
kid at the counter: Wow. If you're that excited, yes. Please. Take it.
me: So shines a good deed in a weary world (Gene Wilder version).
kid at the counter: . . .
kid at the counter: I hope your day gets better.
So now I have a pen and only wish I had more time to write with it, write the things that really matter, that dog me day and night and in and out and through and around every other crazy necessity on my midterms schedule this week. I have so many words in my head I can hardly sleep. And even when I finally do, the words wake me up in the morning like tousled toddlers, big-eyed and blinking. We're still here. You made us, now raise us. We have still so many things to say.
So many things. Music and parties and pasta. Star charts and road maps and song sheets. Love letters and eulogies and thank yous---especially thank yous, because I have received several soul-swelling emails of late and I thank you for reading my writing and I thank you for writing to tell me that you're reading. I am getting around to replying, I am I am.
But until then, just know that I have a pen. And that's a start.
and also valentine. (in this case, they're basically the same thing.)
YESTERDAY: wake up, five hours sleep (this is good), drive to Provo, go to class, think for a minute about King Lear and the calamity of fatherhood. write a love letter, go to class, consider the number of girls walking around with roses (it's a lot), homeworkhomeworkhomework, teach a writing workshop, worry about the alarming amount of students hell-bent to succeed but absolutely indifferent to learning. homeworkhomewo--deadasleeponabenchinthehumanitiesbuilding--rkhomework, go to class, take pages and pages of notes, decide a night out salsa dancing is probably the last thing in the known universe that you are going to do, discuss love, passion, and pretzels with your sister, walk home zombie-like, tell your roommates that a night out salsa dancing is probably the last thing in the known universe that you are going to do, leftovers for dinner (thank you, mum). check the mailbox because you just never know, find it a flurry of hearts and happiness, owl always love ewe (thank you, Ren), discuss love, languages, and sea-salt caramel with roommates, inform M (guilty of the NPR Valentine) of his supreme dorkdom, recite a line of Whitman, remember the frosting and graham crackers in the cupboard, become confused over the correct use of a butter knife. wonder if you are not actually awake and moving after all but in the beginning stages of a scientific miracle: girl devoid of any real-time response walks, breathes.
collapse onto bed, fully clothed, possibly dead. decide you should probably at least brush your teeth. it would be the responsible thing to do. look up. on the ceiling: u r sherlocked.
ALLISON FOR THE WIN.
But this, this is far more intimate. This is your heart. And you should never let it rule your head. You could have chosen any random number and walked out of here today with everything you worked for. But you just couldn't resist it, could you? I've always assumed that love is a dangerous disadvantage. Thank you for the final proof.
Everything I said, it's not real. I was just playing the game.
I know. And this is just losing.
A TEST of TRUE GENIUS:
do you wish you'd thought of it first?
does it inspire you to create?
yes and yes.
this last week my walk up to campus has been punctuated by these pretty pointers from a girl in salt lake city. and if there's anything I like more than letters and love with a hint of crazy, it is the crazy love letter. what could I do but follow through?
these posts are my response to each poster's prompt, as per criteria two in the test above. some of this is fiction. all of it is true.
Dear ________ ,
One summer before middle school we spent a week at the lake and maybe you remember. It's a strange space, bleached and broken. Not like the lush lakeshores you'd promised me, nothing like the pictures in my books about Alaska or Michigan or Maine. But it was beautiful.
Your brothers laughing left me on the porch and you followed because you were young and determined to grow old, and I was young and forgiving. I found the floating dock and claimed it as my own; I lived there, I haunted the place, I swam to and around and under it until I stopped to sun-sleep on top of it, and that was a sort of swimming, too. Your dad said there was every possibility I was the changeling child of a water nymph. He quizzed me just in case. Where were you born? Indianapolis. How do you spell your favorite word? H-Y-P-O-A-L-L-E-R-G-E-N-I-C. What is your best friend's name? You were wearing only your stupid jean shorts and that feather headdress from the penny store, dressed to rob the dying dinner fire, smearing charcoal in lines across your cheeks like creamy cat whiskers.
It must have been very late that last night because only turquoise lit the hillline and you carried your flashlight poised like a tomahawk above the skinny slope of your right shoulder as I followed you across the beach. I followed you because you'd asked me to and because I wanted to and because you can't really love a thing without giving it away. We reached the dock and I helped you up and we lay there, quiet.
I'd never been on the lake so late. The sky burned more bright than black and it was as if you lay one drop in the bottom of a bowl or could at the same time cup the entire dome of the earth in your open hands. I felt glorious just to breathe there, immortal, until I started thinking about it, about that star and that one, about this and me and the relative radius of a black hole, about the nights I have missed, am missing, will miss, and does that matter or will it? and what if each star were a story and they are each as complicated and thrilling and injured as your own, and if that is true then how does the universe contain such a mad mess, and then who is there to fix it? And how do I help or when does it stop and why did it begin? and my breath slowed and swelled until I might not have been breathing at all. You, flat on your back and eyes wide to the stars, said are you there and I, not knowing if I had heard right or if that was a question or even that it was meant for me, touched your wrist.
I guess what I am trying to say is that you are like a lake night, which is to say that you are staggering and impossible and too much and exactly right and also that I love you. I am here.