My mind is a funny thing. I don’t mean to be the contrarian ranter debutante who comes along on Fridays and turns our topics inside out. It just happens, in large part because by the end of the week I have no idea what to write that won’t be totally redundant. It’s the Friday dilemma. But also, maybe, just maybe, I’m the debutante who’d be pictured at the end of the cotillion lineup with a cockeyed tiara and black pearls instead of white.
That said, today I was on the road to writing about my first loves. I’d even found images of old-fashioned Valentine’s Day cards to get me in the mood. I’d also researched Saint Valentine, a lesser saint who died on February 14th but wasn’t associated with romantic love until Chaucer came along and ascribed it to him. (This is one theory at least.)
I was ready to write an ode to my first book love, The Random House Dictionary. This was a deluxe dictionary that included a veritable encyclopedia at the end of it–a full-color atlas, lists of country capitals, language dictionaries, the solar system, and oodles of cool stuff. I’d study the atlas, try to teach myself Spanish, and memorize country capitals. I loved that giant book, and after all these years I’m still glad to see it gathering dust on my mom’s bookshelf.
I was ready to write about my first word-fest love. About third grade I suddenly caught on to the English language as something more than a chore. For some reason, I started my writing career writing lists. Lists of everything you can imagine–dog breeds, horse breeds, horse names (for the horse I would own someday, of course). The creativity part kicked in when I started writing down rhyming words–chair, fair, mare–and then tried to use them in poems. I was a word nut, for sure.
I was ready to talk about the first creative endeavor I loved that wasn’t about words: photography. About six grade I received a Kodak Instamatic camera for Christmas. I was hooked! In fact, in my 20s I couldn’t decide between writing and photography. Ultimately, writing won out. Photography came in really close though. I think it honed my observational skills. It’s its own kind of storytelling.
So there I was, ready, when I found out a good friend had died over the weekend. She wasn’t supposed to die–she wasn’t truly ready yet. She died because of money–the lack thereof–which came as a result of having an a-hole ex-husband who refused to pay what she was legally owed out of his military pension and an a-hole son who saddled her with his college debt.
Now I’m sitting here thinking about Valentine’s Day, the Hallmark holiday that celebrates romantic, chivalrous, courtly love. I’m thinking about the fact that I write about the dark sides of things–KILMOON is all about the dark side of love. Love can be twisted, obsessive, neurotic, dangerous, and downright cruel.
I’m sitting here thinking about my friend and the two men in her life who had once loved her. How could it get so totally fecked up? I suppose I write to explore exactly these kinds of questions.
I wonder if we as a society idealize love too much. What do you think?