Loan forgiveness, bike rides, and creative hallucinations

My perfect day would consist of turning on the news and learning that all of our world leaders have come together to reduce carbon emissions to save what’s left of the planet. It would also consist of finding out that our president has miraculously turned into a progressive woman of color. This ethereal POTUS will secure reparations, protect reproductive justice, enact appropriate taxes for the wealthy, stop detaining and deporting immigrants, and guarantee health care and quality education for all people.

Once I’ve got my dose of good news, I’ll probably be feeling a little bit blissful, and I’d make my way to Prospect Park with a couple of friends. We’d ride our bikes around a couple of times, then we’d inevitably get hungry, so we’d snap our fingers and magically transport to Jackson Heights, where we’d feast on scallion and veggie momos at a restaurant we love called Little Tibet.

When the check comes, I’ll look at my phone to quickly assess my bank account, and I’ll see that there’s a message on the screen. It’s from my private loan company saying that my balance is $0.00 thanks to that same wonderful woman president who announced this afternoon that all student loans have been forgiven! Wowee! My friends and I will high five and I won’t even bother looking at my bank account like I’d planned to–I’ll pick up everyone’s tab.

After that, my friends and I would say goodbye, and I’d go home to write my next novel. I would make a strong tea and sit down to work. Even though I would have just started the novel that day, I will know in my bones that this was the book I’ve always meant to write, and I’ll see the whole structure of the novel assemble before me with the same chilling clarity of a first-time hallucination, atoms lining up one by one. How had I never seen it before! is what I will wonder, as I work furiously into the night, with a drive that electrifies everything, and comes spilling out of me, bold as black ink.

The next day, waking up from my perfect day, everything will be back to normal. The planet has been left to rot, my phone is ringing to remind me to send my loan payment, and because there are a hundred and one million crises to address, work will need to resume. At the end of the long day, I’ll sit back down to that novel I drafted the day before, and I’ll be frustrated because my vision has left me. The atoms are no longer lining up, and my room is too cold for this time of the year. The words come out diluted and sparse, like water wrung from a towel. I put out a page like it were a bucket and try to decipher in that muddled reflection what it is I have always been trying to say, imperfect day after imperfect day.

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Stephanie Jimenez

Stephanie Jimenez is a former Fulbright recipient and Prep for Prep alumna. She is based in Queens, New York, and her work has appeared in The Guardian, O! the Oprah Magazine, Entropy, and more. Her debut novel, THEY COULD HAVE NAMED HER ANYTHING, will be published in the summer of 2019 (Little A). Follow her @estefsays.

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