I want to tell you about the time I got into a stranger’s truck, but I don’t know where to begin.
Maybe with the date: October 12, 2016. Yom Kippur, my first time fasting. It was an inadvertent fast. An I-ate-lunch-late-anyway, might-as-well-skip-dinner fast. The curiosity upon waking up the next morning: what would it be like, how would I feel, is it possible I’m more religious than I even know? Or maybe it was just the pull of a test, forever wanting to be a good student, forever wanting to pass.
Or I could start with the previous January, when I packed up my life, the one I had known for over five years, and started anew. My boyfriend and I had broken up. I lived with him in the basement of a century-old family home in the most expensive suburb of New York City. We perfected the art of boxed macaroni. We played old Nintendo games while talking about fractal geometry or ancient Greek myths or shit about our friends. I loved him but I could no longer be with him. I moved to Brooklyn, alone.
Six years after solemnly swearing to all who would listen that I would never take another writing workshop again, I flew off to Portland, Oregon last month to take another writing workshop. It was the Tin House Summer Workshop held on the campus of Reed College, and I was wooed by the star-studded faculty line-up, friends’ testimonials, and Portland itself. I wanted to see if I could ever be cool enough to live in a city like that (I can’t). I wanted to take a break from my 9-5 life, and New York in the summer—its stench and humidity, its gasping subway cars. More than anything, I wanted to think of only writing for one week. I wanted to come home motivated, energized, less prone to watching an entire season of Frasier in one day and more loyal to the page.
I somehow managed to do all that and pick up some pretty nifty life lessons along the way.
I’m home alone, sitting on the couch. The TV is blaring, but I couldn’t tell you what was on. It’s Tuesday or Wednesday. Maybe it’s Thursday. It doesn’t really matter. Kevin is gone. He hanged himself two days ago and it’s all I can think about, all I can see.
But then a commercial comes on, and my daze momentarily lifts. It is over-the-top sensational — a panning shot of a beautiful woman in a silk negligee, sitting upright in bed next to a sleeping, shirtless man, an Italian opera playing in the background, two rivulets of blood dripping from the bullet hole in her forehead. Now I’m dialed in. This ad is so bizarre, and I need to know what it’s for. The scene fades, a book cover appears, and I get my answer: the latest thriller from author James Patterson.
I stand up and scream, “Are you fucking kidding me?”