Thursday, February 6, 2014

Saints and Strangers

Saints and Strangers by Angela Carter
Weight: 3 oz
Method of Disposal: Leaving Somewhere

My grandmother gave me this on her 80th birthday in October 2013.  She was surprised that I had not heard of Angela Carter, and almost appalled that Harriet had not, being from England and all.  I just now read it, and I was very impressed.  My mother walked by while we were discussing the book and put in her two cents that it was horrible.  Lovely writing, but the stories would just make you feel terrible.  They were both right, but I loved it.  I was shocked and slightly embarrassed to realize how well-known and respected Angela Carter is.  A quick Google search and you find that Time magazine considered her one of the 50 greatest British writers in 2008.  I am absolutely going to be seeking out her other work.

After finishing her book, I was feeling down and decided to begin working on a realistic long-distance love letter.  Here is the start of it:

I stare at the body under my sheets.  It is blanketed in a thick, dark layer of fur.  A physical reminder of how long you have been gone.  It is dreary and self-important to think of oneself like a tree whose rings announce its age to the world, but I do.  My hair says you have been gone for months, and my general malaise says there is no end in sight. I take the razor slowly and clumsily to my skin.  It does not matter if I get it all or if it looks organized.  I have time.  I secretly hope it will speed things along, but then I realize that you left me at the coldest time of the year, and I have removed my coat for you but you are not here to accept it, and I am cold.

The water is cold.  I dry myself off with a towel, check the fire and miss you.  I get into bed and slide towards the middle.  My dogs’ weight and the age of the mattress creating a rut that is just big enough to be uncomfortable.  I lay on 15 years of dead skin cells collected from ex-lovers, old pets, and dear friends.  If you cut my mattress in half could you map out my life until now?  We could take little tacks and tiny scraps of paper.  Organize it by number.  The single digits being the deepest and driest, and the double digits being more recent and fragrant.

All of this makes me want a cigachantichocolate.  I want chocolate.  Or do I want a cigarette? 21 long days for a 22 year old woman that makes my heart as pretty as my matching shower curtain and the candles that are “just for decoration.”  I never knew that I was supposed to choose them for color over scent.  The things you learn when you trail behind the world’s most beautiful woman with your legs shaved, your panties wet, and your mind focused on reorganizing your life philosophy developed over 28 years.

All this paints a fairly unattractive portrait of what it feels like to love 4,033 miles away from you.

My incredibly sweet grandfather on my father's side always asks if I have written anything lately and wants to read it.  Should I show him this?  And, just to clear things up, I ordered a new mattress immediately after writing this.  I shouldn't even show you this...

I cannot tell you how relieved I was to see it being toted away in a giant plastic bag this afternoon.

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