Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weird Tuesday catch up post

I missed Tuesday and this whole project is worthless without discipline so here’s something. It started out as a kind of musing but completely of its own accord morphed into a mini-narrative. I think it makes the switch too abruptly but I got sick of trying to figure out how to fix it, and it didn't seem worth it to dwell for a week on a blog posting:

It’s common for writers to say that their works are like their children. They feel like they generated this thing, brought it out of themselves through a kind of mystical but painful alchemy, and there is bond with the work based both on that shared experience of creation and a kind of genetic recognition. They describe feeling protective, defensive, loving.

That’s not exactly my experience. As an only child I can’t be sure but I think I regard my texts more like siblings. I know that in a temporal, cause-and-effect kind of way that position makes no sense, but cause and effect have never been my strong suit and I have the plot problems to prove it. But despite that I’m inclined to cling to this portrait o my work or of my attachment to it. I don’t have the tenderness that other writers describe but I do have something, something as basic and as complex.

To be clear, Ours is not a blissful, two peas in a pod, finish each other's sentences, braid each other's hair kind of sibling relationship. As much time as we spend together we are not close. It’s the tense truce of kids who are too unhappy and too much alike, forced to sit too close together in the backseat of car- no, I’m older, I’m driving, he has to go to a special school an hour and half away, has to be driven there and back every day. We sit in silence or with NPR playing, and although it’s what we both would pick where we alone, it fails to generate a feeling of camaraderie, and the inherent monotony of it fails to ease the tension as music might. I feel myself looking sideways at him in a distrusting sort of way and seeing myself, but oddly distorted, as if he’s made of the same parts but they happened to come together in a different order. There’s something uncomfortable about how familiar the features are, how he looks like me but not exactly like me, how he sounds and thinks the way I sound and think but with jarring exaggerations, subversions and deviations. Maybe it’s just that I can see, laid bare in him, all the things I’ve strived to keep buried in myself: the weakness, and the meanness, and the pride in his intelligence, and the certainty of his damnation. I don’t hate him. Even though he’s everything I hate about myself, made simpler, courser, slower, I don’t hate him. I can’t. We’re too close, something deep inside my brain recognizes him as mine, as being indistinguishable from me, as sharing too much of what I am. We’re more than kin and less than kind; as much as we’re alike it’s the anomalies, the fact that we’re immutably disparate animals, that make the recognition sharper, more personal, closer to the bone.

He looks straight ahead through the windshield, thinking his own sick, broken thoughts, wanting things he can’t name because he knows only the words I’ve taught him. If I had been kind he might have been happy, but kindness isn’t in my nature. But then, if we’re accepting the idea of natures, happiness isn’t in his. He maintains an expressionless focus, the same blank concentration I had when I was his age, and which I can still find in myself now if I allow for it. He’s absorbing the whole world and giving it nothing in return, learning the bumps on the horizon, the license plates on passing cars, the voice of Terry Gross, filling himself up and feeling empty.

I signal, turn left into the drive, the dark trees close over the car as it joins the cue, all waiting to unload in front of the austere wooden structure, relentlessly utilitarian, classically New England. We don’t look at each other, there’s no need, we can both learn more about the world from looking at anything else. He and I. We maintain our silence, heavy and fragile, as familiar and comforting, as suffocating as snow. Finally we’re at the front of the line, he gathers his things and opens his door, makes his careful way up the walk. I watch him, directly for the first time on our ride and only now that he can’t see me doing it. He never looks back, but I can’t leave, I can’t bear to drive away until I see him disappear behind the door.

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