Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I have become unstuck

After I had told him everything, and after he had gone into the Chinese restaurant for savory wonton soup and pork rolls, after he had said it’s all right, it’s all right, and made me laugh again, I sat in the car in the dark parking lot and waited. I watched my own breath. I drew circles on the steamed-over window. It was cold. I was exhausted. I listened to Amy Rigby on the radio. Neon bled onto the ground.

Amy Rigby was singing about her life and her love and Rasputin, and it was a happy song, a happy song, and I resolved right then and there: should I ever make music again, I will not make sad songs, though I may feel them, though the lyrics may wander if you listen too closely; I will make upbeat music, music for dancing.

And I felt like, in that moment in the cold car, a switch was flicked inside of me, a switch that had a label in each direction: STUCK and MOVE. I’ve been on STUCK for a while now, in the down position, down and dark. I suddenly felt it switch up, a spark, a flutter. The generator whirled, the juke box started up, the disco ball turned again. The lights came on.

I felt better.

A bad thing happened, and then it was over, but it kept on being bad, being there even though it was gone, leeching into me, my blood, my legs. Everything tasted like salt. I’ve been spinning around, not sure how to move. Part of that is finishing a novel and not knowing if I should jump into a new project, or keep revising, or what to do next as a writer. But more of it is not wanting to let go of this awful thing, not wanting it to have been awful, not wanting to admit what happened. It’s grown rotten inside my stomach as I sat in the kitchen, waiting for an answer.


But there’s no voice there in the kitchen, no reassurance, no teacher, no hand. I have to write my own answer. Are you ready? It begins like this.


I won’t say I am over everything. But I’m done sitting here. I’m done waiting around. I’m done feeling sorry for myself. I’m done asking questions of the linoleum. There are five deer now, now in the middle of the day, in my parents’ Ohio farm backyard, eating corn we have laid out for them. Hey, I say to them when I get out of the car and step into the snow. Welcome. Congratulations on surviving deer season.

You too, they say.

Excuse me now. I have a white dress to dye red, and a thousand poems to publish, and a book to send out into the world.