Saturday, May 07, 2005

here I am with my basket

Alfred Stieglitz, “Apples and Gable, Lake George,” 1922

A smart woman told me last summer, in a quote that may have been Flannery O'Connor but I can't seem to find it, writing a novel is something like getting lost in the forest.

I always seem to travel with those rare hardy souls who pause at the forks and say things like Want to get lost? or Let's take this road. Who, even though they know the right way, the easy way, the way we drove coming into this place, don't always take it.

I once went to Pittsburgh like that. We kept turning left until we found it.

Have you ever been sitting idly, perhaps touching your significant other's hair, perhaps watching television, perhaps it was spring and late, when suddenly you think: now it could be different. It could be a son instead of a daughter, delicate-boned with fine hair, fast.

I have heard that holding a small bit of cracker or bread inside your mouth, on your tongue, for a very long time will turn it sweet.

And there was the writer Jane Hamilton who decided to move to New York and on her way, stopped to visit a friend in the East, perhaps it was a college friend, perhaps it was Vermont, intending just to stop over for a bit on her way. But they were harvesting apples--her friend lived on an orchard--and needed the help so she stayed just for the season, just for the harvest, and then--I could be getting this all wrong--she fell in love with her friend's cousin, perhaps it was brother, and stayed, and never got to New York at all. And that was right.

I keep thinking, where is my orchard? Where is my wrong turn? And how will I know when to turn off, and how will I know not to go back?