If I had the answers I’d be writing self help books and giving motivational speeches across the world. I wouldn’t be an utterly clueless 20-something. I would be someone else, somewhere else. Somewhere that wasn’t a classroom.
I did not ask for this. I never wanted this. There are thousands of people who do, people who lift their faces to the sky, rip open their shirts and say: Go ahead. Shoot me.
It’s one thing to be held in the thrall of a dead genius. The space created by death still allows for self-delusion—another ten years and I’ll be able to do that—but it’s another thing to realize belatedly that you have rubbed shoulders with genius, cleaned kitchens together and stayed up until 2:00 in the morning discussing spoons.
I have heard that when death comes for us, he is accompanied by a welcoming party. They are all there, the gossiping grandparents who smelled like tangerines, the sweet neighbors who made god-awful lasagna, the pet snail named Squinky who got flushed down the toilet. Privately, I suspect, that these are stories concocted to soothe our fears. We are so alone in life that we can not bear to think that we will be alone in death too.
Nothing hurts me so much as hearing the word slut dropped into conversation. This is because in tenth grade my English teacher recommended Leora Tanenbaum’s book, Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation. Not a book I would have picked up on my own, but I liked this teacher and would have read anything he recommended.