Two friends strike out into the real world, but one of them thinks this is a love story.
(from The New Yorker, Sept. 18, 2006)
In an ideal world, we would have been orphans. We felt like orphans and we felt deserving of the pity that orphans get, but, embarrassingly enough, we had parents. I even had two. They would never have let me go, so I didn’t say goodbye; I packed a little bag and left a note. On the way to Pip’s house, I cashed my graduation checks. Then I sat on her porch and pretended that I was twelve or fifteen or even sixteen. At those ages I had dreamed of this day; I had even imagined sitting on this porch waiting for Pip for the last time. She had the opposite problem: her mom would let her go. Her mom had gigantic swollen legs that were a symptom of something much worse and she was heavily medicated with marijuana at all times.
We were anxious to begin our life as people who had no people. And it was easy to find an apartment when we got to Portland, because we had no standards; we stood in our tiny new studio and admired our door, our rotting carpet, our cockroach infestation. We decorated with paper streamers and Chinese lanterns and we shared the ancient bed that came with the apartment. This was tremendously exciting for one of us. One of us had always been in love with the other. One of us lived in a perpetual state of longing. But we’d met when we were children and we seemed destined to sleep together like children, or like and old couple who got married before the sexual revolution and are too embarrassed to learn the new way.
Curse The New Yorker for not publishing this excellent story online. (Cheers for publishing it at all, I suppose.) For one thing, I just typed those two paragraphs myself. I type slowly. For another, this story is surely shareworthy. I’m all for artists’ rights and for authors making money, but some days I wish there was a Lit Limewire, wherein peers could swap fiction in a worldwide people-powered scheme. Alas, if it were profitable, it would already exist.
My point, such as it is — find yourself this recent New Yorker and read this story. It’s got all the good stuff: love, sex, glimpses into the darker things, sudden idiosyncrasy and some moments of genuine funniness. (Click here to read one of those funny bits.)
(“Palmcorder Yajna,” The Mountain Goats)