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I am not, nor have I ever been, a Bostonian. I am, however, the daughter of a Bostonian.
I was riding the train from the university into town today when a young man sat down next to me and pulled out a book. It was, I noticed, because I am nosy, a “teach yourself Russian” book.
I asked him, in German, if he was learning Russian. He answered, in German that was as accented as mine, that he was. And I told him that I had, and that the beginning is the hardest part. He asked if I was German. I said that I wasn’t, and that I’m American. “We should probably speak in English, then,” he said, “because I’m from Birmingham, UK.”
I was little when I first saw The Aristocats. I know so because my family and I were still living in Toronto, Canada, and I was only there from ages one through eight. I remember that we were there because of the blizzard.
I already had a stuffed animal of Marie, the female kitten who says, “Ladies don’t start fights, but they can finish them.” (I let me siblings think that they owned the stuffed animals of her two brother cats.) But I couldn’t properly act out The Aristocats with just Marie. I also wanted the stuffed animal of her mother, Duchess. And I decided that I wanted this during a blizzard. I don’t remember crying or whining for it. I think I just said that I wanted it. And out my dad went, into the snow, to buy me Duchess.
I was retelling this story to someone recently, wondering why my father would do such a patently foolish thing. Why didn’t he just tell me to wait? That we’d go to the store when it stopped snowing? Or that I should wait for my birthday?
And today I realized that it wasn’t because, as I’d long suspected, my father didn’t have any stuffed animals growing up and wanted to give his children what he had never had.
No. I think it was because, fifteen years later, I still remember the time that he went out into a blizzard because something that I wanted was out there in the snow.
I wrote you
an email to tell you
that I love you.
I did not say so in the email
but I hoped that you
would read it and see
how funny and well-written
that I meant that I love you
But even writing it I
guessed that you
would only think
thought anything at all.
And I knew for certain
that that’s all you
think by the time I
*I wrote a lot of poetry growing up. I stopped during my first year of college, I think, by which point I’d stopped showing it to anyone, anyway. And shortly thereafter I forgot that writing poems was ever a thing I did and developed something like contempt for people I knew who called themselves poets, which was unfair, because some of them were actually really good (about others I have nothing to say). And on my train ride back from Munich today I suddenly, after years of, I guess, just forgetting by never taking the time to consider that this was a way in which I used to try to sort out the very confusing, albeit clichéd feelings I had, remembered. And, for want of much else better to do, I decided to take a break from my book and try to write a poem. And I did, and this was it.
A reminder both of why I liked writing poetry for all those years, and also a confirmation that it was probably for the best that I stopped.
On Sunday, I read an article on an online website—I cannot remember which—that was a compendium of tweets saying, essentially, “Anne Hathaway is looking into the mirror and practicing her speech all day today.” And yesterday, I read many an article on many a site mocking her for getting up on stage, saying, “It came true!,” and continuing to deliver what was clearly a very well-rehearsed speech.
It isn’t that I don’t get irrational actress hate (i.e. “I hate her face!”). I, for example, find Emma Stone, with whom everyone seems to be in love, quite cloying. And don’t even start with me on “adorkable” Zooey Deschanel. And I get that Anne Hathaway is a theatre kid all grown up, and, as someone who spent some time with theatre kids in high school (you can’t have a bit part in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing without getting to know your fellow players, you know?), I get that that’s a bit unsavory. But there’s something about this specific round of Hate-thaway (I’m so proud of that pun) that bothers me. And it is this:
Why do we care that Anne Hathaway clearly cares?
“Well, Beth thinks you ARE her, so…”
So said my mother on Skype last night. We had been talking about last night’s “Girls” episode, and she, once again, said that the main character, who is, for those of you (I’m not sure to whom I’m speaking, either) who don’t watch the show, self-obsessed, whiny, aimless, writerly, but ultimately maybe probably decent, reminded my family of me. And, once again, I protested that this wasn’t true. That I’m not her. And then the Skype call went awkwardly silent for a moment. “Well, of course not. She’s a caricature.”
“Right, but you don’t think that, like, I’m really like her…do you? I’m not that selfish?”
“Well. Everyone’s selfish.”
I went to Fordham with my brother yesterday for an orientation day of sorts that the incoming students go to (like Columbia’s Days on Campus, I guess, except it is just one day and only for students who have decided to definitely attend). And I went to the Parents/Guardians lectures, not the one for students, and I walked on the place where he will be spending the next four years, and I listened to the Dean of Students say how quickly Commencement will be here, and I thought about the strangeness of time and different people’s different places in it, and how all of this is still spread out before him, and how lucky that is, but how I would not go back to the beginning, to that place of being 18 and trying so hard to not try so hard for the wide world, but how I am glad, so glad, that he is finally there.
Yesterday morning, I was sitting in a Pret A Manger on the street on which I work. I get into the city about an hour earlier than I need to arrive at my internship (because that is the time at which I can be dropped off at the train station in my town), and thus, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, I spend thirty minutes or so at this Pret. (It’s across the street from a Starbucks, but I went there once and it was awful, so never again, where that’s concerned.) This is all a very long, digressive way of saying that I was at this particular coffee shop on a Monday morning.
I am on a kindness kick today. I have ranted about it to my friends, family, and now, Internet, it’s your turn.
Let me preface this by saying that to not remember is not to forget. Maybe they are according to the thesaurus. But not according to me. (I should also say that this will probably sound a bit like a fourteen year old’s angst ridden Zeen submission (and that I’m not sure if that’s spelled “Zeen” or “Xine.”)
The other day, I was walking with another girl from my program. We were talking about how, in Petersburg, the abnormal occurs with such normalcy. People bump into each other and nobody seems to mind. Shopkeepers are impatient with their customers out of practice, not principle. Buses break down and Point A magically morphs into Point B somewhere alone somebody else’s journey, and it’s same as it ever was (and, simultaneously, not). And we talked about how odd it was to consider the regularly occurring bizarre so average, and how we had routines here, though neither one of us could remember their moment of origin. And then she told me that, while texting with her Russian phone, she thought of her American one. And she couldn’t remember what it looked like. And I, in turn, told her that, while filling out a form for some thing or another, I realized that I could not immediately remember my American cell phone number.
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