Friday, July 14, 2017

Just Out of Reach



I have read very few Jayne Anne Phillips stories.  But I will.  I just ordered "Black Tickets" based on a book review by Dwight Garner.  He mentioned "loneliness" in reference to her work.  That is always a big attraction for me.  It just never seemed that unpleasant, at least not when contrasted to the other.

I need mental and physical space.  I need hours.  I have to waste a lot of them to get anything done.  The company of other people is o.k. in small doses, but I can't think when other people are around.  That is the time when I "perform."  And I've come to realize over the years that too much of my performance alienates others.  They like it in small doses.  I've learned to leave the room sooner than later.

As a youth at parties, I would pick a spot on the outside of the activities where I could sit and observe without being observed.  I never felt a part of things and enjoyed the sweet agony of being apart.  I'd watch the popular kids perform their crowd-pleasing antics and would feel a bitter disgust.

I liked it most when the girl in this picture would come over and say hello.  That would be Jayne Anne Phillips.

I knew that girl over and over again in college and after.  Sweet sadness, desirable trouble, always inches out of reach.  She would constantly fall for some strange character, a redneck ruffian, a troubled poet, a louse.  Sometimes I'd take her coffee and a bagel early in the morning and we'd sit and talk awhile.  Or perhaps we'd go to lunch.  She was sweet and usually distracted by something, often sadness or trouble, not of an important kind but of an emotional nature.  She never seemed to settle.  The things that were easy for her drove her to seek trouble.  She needed to be disrupted.  Stillness was not her forte.

I miss her.  All of them.  They made me what I am.  I chuckle at that.  Blaming or praising?

But she and they are not around any more.  They've been replaced by the Instagram girl with the Facebook sensibility.  That is not a rap.  We are but the products of our times.

I have some space and hours this weekend.  A weekend is not enough, but it is something.  I will get to waste the hours and have a chance to think.  There might be just enough time to do one thing, but maybe not.  I need to do a lot of daydreaming before I can lift a finger.  At night, I will read some stories by Phillips and see if it brings back memories or feelings that can push me toward some sort of action.  

I wish I had taken that photograph of Jayne Anne Phillips.  It says a lot.  I hope I am not too far removed to do it now.

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