Sunday, March 20, 2011

Seeking a Clean, Well-lighted Place

I once read somewhere that a person lives beyond the span of his life up until the point when the last person who remembers him dies. If I am alive, and no one knows or remembers me, does that mean that I'm already essentially dead? Have I lived a completely purposeless life? I was hit with this today when an old friend responded to an email I sent, saying she had no memory of the times we'd spent together. If she'd been a passing acquaintance, I might have shrugged it off. But I considered her to be a close friend during my college years. We've put a lot of miles on the road since then, but still.

I have carried love in my heart for so many people I've known over the years. Just because they're no longer in my life doesn't mean I've stopped loving them. And I remember the times we've had together. No, it seems that I've carried all of this and have always been essentially invisible. Unremarkable. Mr. Cellophane. This may all seem very self-pitying, but allow me a moment of sadness. I've retreated from life, maybe hoping someone would say, "Don't go." No one did. I faded into everyone's past and then from their memories, leaving no trace, no residue, no vapor.

This comes to me now because I've had the colossal arrogance to want to be a published writer. But look! I'm not even memorable in my life. Where could I possibly get off thinking that I might write some memorable fiction? I want to be the kind of writer who walks on nails, the kind who stands on the edge of a precipice in billowy clothes, wind whipping me from all sides, arms outstretched. But I can't find the precipice on mapquest. It's springtime. I should go to Paris. Just get on a plane, take a couple weeks off. Just go. Right now. Who cares if it's crowded? I can sit in cafes, with scribblings before me. Lose myself in the Louvre. Wag my tongue at gargoyles. Visit graves.

I'm looking into the possibility of going to Paris and Florence in December. I've needed to see Paris forever, and I really want to wander the streets of Florence again. How far does a woman have to go to find a clean, well-lighted place?