Public Displays of Emotion

I saw a girl on the subway on Sunday who was crying. She was in her early twenties, blond, vaguely pretty and miserable. She had tears on her neck even. She was staring out the window, watching the different stops streak by, thinking whatever she was thinking and trying to hold it together. I imagined her finally getting home and throwing herself on the bed and sobbing, sobbing. I realized that I do not carry Kleenexes and maybe I should. You never know when you're going to have to hand someone a tissue to wipe away tears or blood or other assorted bodily fluids. I scanned my brain to see if there were something I could or should do to make her feel better, but then I put myself in her place and realized it would be worse to have a stranger slip her a note reading, "It will all be okay." Because maybe it won't all be okay. She didn't seem in shock--so, it didn't seem like she'd gotten news of some one's death, she just seemed sad, in a my-partner-broke-up-with-me or a I-just-dropped-my-best-friend-off-at-the-airport way. How do you comfort someone you don't know?

Got two copies of Cimmaron Review in the mail today. They published my story "Wanted." I haven't read it in awhile and found in the re-reading that it's not all that good. I feel like I have two writers in me. One can be glib and clever and make tons of pop culture references and the other is less surfacey, more real, but also more sentimental, which scares me. We read D.H. Lawrence's short novel, "The Fox" this week in my grad class. Lawrence has no problem writing purple prose, but he does it so well. Would I ever dare to do that or will I always constantly be standing outside myself, sneering at any attempt to move beyond what's easy for me to write? I've been sort of working on this story...Can't decide what age the narrator should be. Here's a little bit of it:

Evie remembered sitting in church as a child surrounded by adults; a mother who had explained carefully that the Easter Bunny didn't exist. Nor did the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. No Rudolph, no fat white jolly man vaporizing magically under their door (they lived in a one-story, flat-roofed ranch house in Florida where chimneys were unheard of), no sled to be seen in silhouette against the full yellow moon on Christmas Eve. She regretted the loss of the flying reindeer the most. And yet, this same mother, the crusher of fairy tales, managed every Sunday to put on a dress and sit in the same pew in church, listening to the priest recite the Hail Mary, standing to sing the hymns with the same enthusiasm she brought to household chores; a sort of upbeat martyrdom. This same mother would not back off from what Evie saw as the magic in the Bible or the Friday night horror movie elements of Jesus rising zombie-like from the dead. Jesus was creepy. As a child, she had nightmares about him. Her grandmother kept crucified Jesus's all around her house. He would pop-up in unexpected places, on the back of the bathroom door, above the oven, atop the TV in the living room. Jesus appeared everywhere with his gaunt, bleeding body and embarrassing near-nakedness with his uplifted, sorrowful eyes. But even when Jesus was not in varying postures of torture, he never quite seemed happy. You never saw a drawing of Jesus smiling. No picture ever showed his teeth. Where were Jesus' teeth? Even in his baby pictures, he appeared solemn, unhappy, or at the very least, tragically serious. Evie would look around the church, at all of these adults who believed in the magic of the parting of the Red Sea, the turning of water into wine, the raising of the dead, the multiplying of loaves of bread. She waited for one of them to point out what was obvious to her. That none of this was real. That Santa Claus was far better. But no one ever did.

Now that I type it, I don't like it so much. Must work on my donation story. It could be good, if I could get rid of all the dead baby stories and if I could make the boyfriend more sympathetic. I like the title, "Your Entire Heart." I seem to be obsessed with hearts; they're in all of my stories.


Rachel said…
i love your blog. it cheers me up, it makes me laugh {out loud too. that's when you know its real funny}, and it galvanizes me to write even more.
i really hopw this isn't a creepy post. i just wanted to tell you how absolutely spectacular your blog is.
oh, and as for the story, i picture Evie to be in her forties recollecting her childhood of the 70's. which includes that yellow haze over everything, like in 'wonder years'. she's growing up during a time where there's chaos in the world, vietnam, hippies, counter-culture, but she's inside the thick masonry walls of the catholic church listening to stories of saints, peter, paul and mary.
anyway, i hope that helps. you're blog sure helps me!!
Aimee said…
Thank you! That is so nice to hear. You must know as a writer that it sometimes feels like you're shouting into an abyss and no one is listening. So, thank you, for letting me know that I'm not completely alone.

And I like your assessment of Evie. I was thinking she'd be a good central character for a book.

You made my day/week/month.