For a number of years I have kept this piece of paper with me, tucked in between the pages of various books and other places (I think -- I can't remember where else it might have lived, though it feels as if it was in a box at somepoint, and not just the pages of a notebook...). I found it again in my art project book earlier today, and I knew I had put it in there to remind me of something, but I can't recall what that was. All I could do with it this time around was read it, then type the words out into world with my last blog post, thinking I needed to crawl inside them to recognize their life.
The page is a standard 8x11 laser print-out, courier font, point twelve. I had folded it in half, half the other way, then half the first way again. It has four main creases that were defined more strongly by squeezing the folds with nails, not just fingertips. At some point in its history, the bottom left corner of the paper was folded in and back, adding a triangle to the topography of the page. The title, September 16, is in bold and finished by a period. There is a slight tear an inch to the right of the period, just hitting the top of "resilient" in the first sentence of text.
Whose text is this, I cannot be sure. When I found it again, before putting it in its current archive, I thought it was mine and read the words as if speaking the name of my child over and over again to a kid on the playground -- no response, no matter the persistance and repetition. And with a deep wave of disappointment over the empty pit of discovery, I remember I never gave such birth: This text is not mine.
Again, whose text is this? Who belongs to these lines, the metaphors? The adjectives? The nouns? For a short while when struggling to identify with it as if it was mine, I would say yes, this line makes sense, I could have thought this on a wet wet gray morning (this had to have been first written on a wet wet gray morning -- an Ithaca morning, a wet tree trunk morning, like suddenly stepping your sock-wearing feet into the puddle made by the shower). But the stiff-necked drama of words like "Victorian daggers," "One" and "beautiful" are not my voice at all, especially these references to age -- teenagers, children, "mess of a life." (I don't like such overt references to time.) Such perspectives on time had to be written by someone more my elder, or, someone who is young but creates their identity and life around the notion that they are so tragic their ability to write from a perspective much more experienced is merited through such naive melancholy. Besides, this text seems too worked, too revised. Over worked, over produced. It is easy to tell that it was born with an audience in mind, not just directed to the self, or the individual inhabited by the "you," by the "our."
I like parts of the text. I don't like a lot of things about it. I am glad it is not mine, but I added to the end of the last line. Can you tell? Which part is me? The difference between one person and the next is certainly more than fingerprints and hairlines --- Vocabulary, and the candor of its employment, are just as defining.
We all have our favorite nouns, verbs, expressions, metaphors, ... all these discursive allusions to experience we live and share with others to make life feel more real...
Typing the words out this morning, knowing they were not mine...it is an act not unlike the experience of wearing a friend's clothes or the pleasure of using your roommate's shampoo. Trying them on, something new without the commitment of actual change ... imagining another life ... when my roommate waits on people, he invents stories about their life, imagining the house they live in, the friends they have, if they are funny and witty or not ... i mostly wonder about what they are like in bed, what their sex style is ... are they frigid and timid? lights off only? is it jackhammer sex? who is a talker? a moaner? an Oh God or Fuck Me person? i have a theory about reading an individual's sexual style by the way they treat their paper napkin when eating, but that is for another time...
What was it about the folds of the paper I kept returning to? They mark out the history of the page, and more importantly, how many times this stranger's words were read by me, another stranger (the original writer doesn't know I exist). I think this page came from Ithaca, from college. Working in the computer lab in undergrad gave me the opportunity to be a written word spy...Like trying to see what the title of a book someone is reading on the metro, or listening in to the faintly audible noise from someone's white iPod headphones. Curiousity: What does this person think about? How do they use their words? Would I expect that sentence from her if I just saw her in the hallway? What does the subject in that paragraph really mean to him and would he come back to that idea again? What is in her Works Cited?
I believe I first found this lost text from a pile of left-over print-outs never picked up at the lab desk. I surely had it that long, (the folds are so many and so deep). The intrigue of its origin must be why it has survived so many moves to different towns, different apartments. It just keeps resurfacing.
When will it disappear again?
Where will it go?