The first thing we bought when we arrived in Iowa was a bed. I say “we” but really it was Mike who bought the bed because the bank account that I’d blithely forgotten to check had been empty, more than empty, since Nebraska. We spent our first night in our new apartment sweating on a blanket on the floor.
Iowa in August was thick and heavy, swollen and green. We tried to go out, to explore our new city, but the air pushed us down and the heat took our breath away. Everything but us was flourishing, growing vigorously, while we returned, defeated, to our window air conditioning unit.
It was Mike’s first move away from California. It was my second. And that difference was enough to make me feel experienced, worldly. As if having done it once before meant that I knew what I was doing. He complained about the humidity. I said I told you so.
I am a scavenger. I make things out of bits and pieces of other things. I look back through my life and think, what can I turn this into? I get to a point in a story where I am walking into the water in San Diego, and I think, hey didn't I write a description of this already? Some blog searching, some copy pasting, and I have another few paragraphs of this story. (See this bit.)
That was one of the hardest things about the Commie Pinko rules: I couldn't scavenge for previous works to put in the story, which is hard because the story is previous works. Everything I make is the same thing, it's just that the pieces don't all connect just yet. The darkroom story ended up being the Sheila story, or rather it was the pieces that fit around the Sheila story. (And as soon as it was no longer a Commie Pinko story, I went and copy pasted those bits in. The story is much improved with them there.) There are still pieces of the Sheila story sitting in my google docs, waiting for something else to come along to connect to.
I still don't know what I'm doing. Obviously, I am talking about place, and home, and Iowa and California. I thought, for a minute, that this might be about my grandmother. That would make sense. But it just isn't true.
This might be an apology to Mike. If Sheila gets a love letter, I think that Mike gets an apology. I don't know how, yet, but I think that's what I want. I think. We'll see.