X turned out to be this very handsome, well-spoken young man who was a law student at the University of Indiana. (In real life, I don’t think there is a University of Indiana.)
Before I could leave, I wanted to make sure my camera was operating optimally. I had somehow unfolded it so that it looked like one of those pop-up greeting cards. And I found myself utterly incapable of folding it back up so that it looked (and functioned) like a camera.
X was waiting very patiently, but I realized it must be a complete drag for him to wait on me, an elderly woman, so I just crammed the unfolded camera into a pocket.
“My son is taking the California Bar!” I told X—my attempt to build a social bridge!—and X evinced pleasant interest in this fact, but I thought to myself, Why did you say that? Nobody cares about you or your son.
We got to the maybe-Santa Cruz, and I followed X into his apartment. X introduced me to his wife—I was shocked he had a wife, he was so young! His wife was German, very beautiful. “Was it hard for you to learn English?” I asked, which she misheard as, “How many children do you have?”
She started telling me that she and X did not want children, and I was mortified because in the absence of toddler cars, random toys, associated clutter, I would never ask people I did not know about their “children.” I would consider it a rude question.
Suddenly, I had the idea that X and his wife were waiting for me to leave their apartment. Clearly, there was no continuation of the Hare family festivities here.
Left and stumbled across a ceramic plaque in the middle of a highway with a humorous quip dedicated to Annie Steinhardt’s Pizza (Annie’s my aunt.) I wanted to take a photograph of it to text to Annie.
Then I started thinking of all the other times I had visited Santa Cruz, what my visitation rituals had been. First I would visit Annie, then I would visit Janet & Rik—Janet and Rik lived up a country road on a steep hill, and the map of the road was somehow superimposed over my dream-memory of the steep road.
And then I thought: But Rik is dead…
When I woke up, I thought, I’ve dreamed that map-cum-visual of the steep road many, many times before.
Though I don’t know whether I actually have.
And also, Rik and Janet never lived in Santa Cruz.
Fourth day of extremely bor-r-r-r-r-ing illness. My lungs are clear! I can exhale without sounding like, Dere’s a train comin’ down da track!
Gonna give myself one more day of house arrest, though.
Did a lot of scribbling on the Work in Progress, so felt entirely virtuous.
My composition method is quilt-like. I will write huge chunks of exposition entirely out of order. And then I will have to think of some way to sew those chunks together. I worry when the seams show.
I write like I read, which is to say nonlinearly: After I get 50 pages into a novel, I will quite often flip to the end and begin reading it backwards. Suspense i.e. What happens next? has never been very important to me.
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