The problem with Ted and Colleen is that they each thought they were saving the other.
I unpacked my books yesterday. For years we have not had the space to have them out but suddenly, now--a built in glass encased bookshelf, 30" deep. Five large plastic containers of Shakespeare and Aeschylus, Lorrie Moore, Ellen Gilchrist, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Eudora Welty, The Norton Anthology of This and The Oxford Anthology of That. (God, how I love that thin onion skin paper.) I unpacked the books I have read and the books I meant to read but never did so now I just pretend to have read them (I'm talking to you now Aeschylus). I unpacked books that I have loved and those that I have written in. I unpacked books that I have written, mismatched journals of varying sizes, my handwriting round and tilted and large. I have known some deeply religious people and while I have envied them their faith nothing good ever came of any of them. And then there is this: me writing about Puck from The Real World, San Francisco. Phone numbers of people I am no longer friends with scratched across the inside of notebooks. Dates and reminders, $213.47, 924-7639, I don't know who or why but at some point in 1993 it was important enough to write down. Bryan doesn't understand why it's so important to me to have my books out. It's not as if you're going to read them again. And he's right. I probably won't read them again. Or ever (Aeschylus). But as I unpacked them from their plastic containers I felt a lightness, a truth. Something right and genuine, as if maybe for the past five, seven, ten years now since graduate school I have packed away something of myself in hermetically sealed plastic boxes from The Container Store. Oh, not to worry--the books and I were safe from moisture but there we were all the same. Henry Miller on top of Anais Nin, my journals about me at 21 smashed beneath Walt Whitman. They pour and they pour and they exhale away! But here we are now, out in the world. Who knows what happened to Puck? Better yet, who cares? I sit on the floor before the bookcase and thumb through onion skinned paper reading the notes I wrote in the thin margins of Beowulf. I was the type of girl who wrote in red ink. By fighting monsters we surpass the limits of date and history. I wish I knew that girl now. I would like to be friends with her if only to tell her to stop worrying about some things. And to worry more about others. I would very much like to borrow her red pen to keep writing, never to stop. Whatever happened to Ted and Colleen? Did they ever save each other, or did their naive heroism ruin them both? I will never know because that's all I wrote. Sometime in 1993, or maybe 1995. The start of an idea, of a book or a story that never got written. Just the first sentence, something that I liked, I think, although really, who knows what I was thinking, writing on the floor while watching Party of Five. In the end, maybe it is Ted and Colleen who will save me, my kingdom for a bookshelf, my house for a pen.