1. Don’t talk about the past
2. Don’t talk about the future
3. Don’t ask trick questions
4. “All we have left is to narrate this date as it happens.”
I turned back to the sink and shut off the water. I shook the water from the lettuce and held it over the sink, letting the remaining water drip from soaked crevices. The water fell from the lettuce in brief streams, then—two, three days later—the remaining water fell in large intermittent drops, and finally in small droplets that I had to shake out of the lettuce like small, clear insects that rolled unprotesting into the drain.
MH Rowe, “The Salad”
We are born between two states of consciousness; we spend our lives between the darkness and the light, and to climb in the mountains of another country, phrase our thoughts in another language or admire the color of another sky draws us deeper into the mystery of our condition.
John Cheever, The Wapshot Scandal
What I remember most vividly about my grandmother’s house are the stone steps in her backyard. The way I’d have to cross them to reach her door, their wavering texture underfoot, how they pulled apart my stride. I wondered aloud why I didn’t use stones to get everywhere.
I don’t know why we’d done it; dragging ourselves to the park every Saturday, the sun braiding our shadows into intimate monsters; my arms full of my mother’s old unread Good Housekeepings, which we’d lay down in a diamond of glossy bases. I didn’t understand the mechanics of baseball so my play was learned dramatically, from televised games. I’d walk around in a mime of usefulness, taking long interrogative looks into the middle distance. In these thoughtful interludes I would pray deeply, hoping the ball wouldn’t fatally curve in my direction.
Next to athletes we looked recently incubated, but we still engaged the sport with the misdirected energy of amateurs. We’d run as if our careers depended on it, looking simplified in the stream of light. During breaks for water I’d catch myself looking at my friend Ashley’s glasses, which the sun would hit and make glossy and rainbowed. Could it be that everything was once without precedent? Her glasses, the revolutionary colors of the field, her eyes constructed from a legacy of softnesses. The crest of the hill which seemed to me then the edge of a minor eternity. It was my turn at bat; I held it at some gruesome vertex, my weight flowing from my arms unevenly. I swung, and my wrists seemed to unbuckle from their straits. There was the shallow note of steel in the air. I ran. My career depended on it. The grass was wet before first base, some dew prevailing in the humid afternoon; I pitched forward smoothly, as if pulled by a magnet in the earth. When I lifted myself to my feet the wind came up from the west and raked across my knees, and I felt the first steely elsewheres of pain.