Vestin ponders the want of small things @ Identity Theory.
It happens quickly, this fondness for a spider living in a corner of my bathroom. She’s been there for weeks, and one day, I look down and watch her. And we come to an understanding, or at least, I pretend to understand her, as if I’d just misunderstood a reflection of myself in a mirror and was shocked for a moment to discover a twin.
When I began grad school, I moved into a garden-level apartment within walking distance of campus. The apartment flooded occasionally and let all kinds of insects in its windows. Its neighbors made endless batches of curry, the smell of cumin and turmeric always in the hallway. I got a job at a café several blocks away and worked evenings, walking home after midnight with a large cup of leftover coffee I warmed on the stove and drank while I did my homework.
I’m sick much of that summer, with migraines, with stomachaches caused by statistics classes and eating only food from the café. At night, when I sit on the bathroom floor with my legs tucked under me, rubbing menthol on my throbbing temples or curling my chest over my sore middle, I am nearly eye to eye with the spider. What does she do all night? I am only learning to live alone, to trust the long moments of quiet, the afternoons reading with my legs on the top of the couch, the walk down the dark and narrow hallway at the end of the day, fumbling with my keys and pretending I am being chased as I did climbing the basement stairs as a child.
I’m fascinated by the spider’s choice of a solitary life, or whatever it is that choice is called when it’s governed by instinct in a species that must follow certain behavioral rules. Funny to think I would overcome arachnophobia with a healthy admiration for a spider’s lifestyle. I watch her like other girls listen to Bikini Kill or analyze feminism on Sex and the City. I want an example, a model for how to live independently, with the smallest bit of indifference and anonymity, without fear, for a while, for the summer.
Image: Andrzej Maciejewski @ F-Stop Magazine
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I was 16…
I was 16 in 1994. I had a crush on a girl at my high school named Stacy. She was two years older -- blonde hair, a grunge band on her t-shirt and a constant half-smile on her face -- and it goes without saying that she had absolutely no interest in me. She’d pat my head as I incessantly quoted the movie Heathers to her, and she’d say, “Aw, you’re cute. You’d be a good project this year.”
I had a beat-up old Renault I drove to and from football games that I didn’t play in. I was wildly unpopular, and I basically thought the entire world sucked.Emery was 18 in 1994. At 6'5,” he would’ve been the star on my school’s basketball team for his height alone. He was handsome, nice... His year was spent living in secret in a house on one of the high lifted hills of Kigali, Rwanda, a few meters from a church that he had hidden in a few weeks before. A church where, had he stayed any longer, he would have been slaughtered.“Every church in Rwanda should be a memorial,” he tells me. “Because every church was a place where thousands of us died. We were told they were safe. They’d be respected. They weren’t.”
One church in the mountains saw 3,000 people murdered. The bodies have never been moved. Nothing exists of the people who died anymore -- no bones, no skulls; it’s disintegrated. The only thing in that church today are the clothes of those dead. The clothes… When I was 16, I had posters of John Elway all over my room. He, in my mind, was a hero -- commanding his offense, running to the left, throwing back to the right 70 yards without breaking a sweat. I wore his jersey everywhere. On my walls were pennants of the schools I dreamed of going to. In Upstate NY those pennants read “SYRACUSE,” “COLGATE,” “CORNELL…”
Image: Uwe Langmann @ F-Stop Magazine