I adore The Rumpus. It’s one of my favorite sites. I go there almost every day. It’s introduced me to the work of some really stellar writers. Not all of them are women, but many of them are—I discovered Lidia Yuknavitch’s work there, and I’ve read Roxanne Gay’s work there, and this is the place that runs columns from Dear Sugar each Thursday. These are women who write very smartly and very movingly about what it means to be a writer and a woman and a human. I admire their words. And I’m honored to be up on the site.
Speaking of great women: I have a sister. You probably don’t know much about her, because she is lovely and wonderful and dear and sane, so I do not write about her. I rarely tell my family about my work, but that’s changed some with facebook—now, my sister sees links to many of my publications. This year, because I have been writing so much about my brother, I have been warning my sister when things about him are published. I called her today and told her about this piece. “It’s not really about Austin,” I said, “but he’s in it. He’s there.”
I think that’s how my life is these days. It’s not wrapped around Austin as much as it was for the last few years. Now I can go to a movie without worrying that I might miss a desperate phone call from him. Now I can leave the country without making him promise he will be okay while I’m gone. Now I can sleep straight through the night (though I rarely do) without him texting me at 4 am: You still up?
Sometimes this new freedom is hard to embrace. I’m trying. But even as I move into it, he’s still there. What is it Brent Green says? (I’m paraphrasing from memory): “But you’re still around. You’re always around.” He is. I don’t think that will change.
Last night, we watched PRETTY IN PINK, which my husband had never seen. Midway through, he started trying to read my reaction to the film by comparing its characters to people in my past. He asked if Andrew McCarthy’s character, the adorable but spineless upper-class boy who finally (sort of) takes a stand for the girl, was like my first love. I said yes, but watching the movie, I realized that was all wrong. Way back when, I thought that’s who my first love was. But over the years I’ve come to see that really, he was Duckie—-the one who remained, who stayed quiet, who watched the girl walk away into another life.
(Apparently, in the film’s originally-intended ending, she ends up with Duckie. But they changed their minds about that.)
At least, that’s what I think today. That could change. Remembering is rewriting, so who knows? I destroyed my journal from our last summer together (which was not really together, in a literal sense), so there’s no record, that I know of. And maybe that’s best.
This is an odd post. When I write letters like this, I get to the end and normally say something like “This is an awful letter. I’m sorry.”