Encouraged by Artichoke Heart:
TEN YEARS AGO
It’s my freshman year of college. I have a roommate from South Dakota who smells funny at night. I meet a lot of people and for the first time since age 12, I ask people to call me Charlie. I love living in Minneapolis because I’m finally not living in the country anymore. The city at night is the most beautiful thing I can think of. I like the smell of snow, and there is a lot of it. I meet a boy in my hallway who likes me. I slowly reveal to people I know that I’m amenable to that. I take up smoking. I take up drinking. I drink and smoke as much as I possibly can. I go to film class and love it. I meet a young girl against whom I will file a restraining order within a year. I lose the first boy because I meet and fall for a second boy who is ten years older than me and (I think) the answer to all my problems. There is so much drama in my life, but it’s my drama and I finally feel alive. Everything that happens is crucial.
FIVE YEARS AGO
I live in Saint Paul, where I direct a residence hall on the University’s beautiful agrarian campus. I weigh 155 pounds and my mother thinks I might be sick or dying. I have the worst relationship on earth with a man who may or may not be cheating on me with students who live in my building (among other men) and who, in five years, will kill himself in Arizona. We live together in a 500 square-foot apartment. We smoke too much. I love my job. I love my RA staff. I love so many things except my boyfriend and myself. I do not love winter. I start looking at MFA programs. I have not written in two years but I believe I can.
ONE YEAR AGO
I live in Arizona and defend my MFA thesis. I read poems about blowjobs in front of my 90-year-old grandmother, who smiles the whole time. I live with a man who is normal and good to me. We visit the new IKEA store at least once a week and start (slowly) replacing our hand-me-down furniture with the real thing. I quit working at Baby Gap, which is a sad day. I start a full-time job that I enjoy. My niece starts talking in complete sentences.
I wake up. I walk the dog I’m dogsitting. I say goodbye to the man who goes to work. I go to Gap Outlet and buy a scarf, a button down shirt, some candles, and Om and Grass. I visit my parents and play cards with my grandmother and mother’s cousin. I take over $5 from them in winnings. I eat a homecooked dinner. I drive an hour back and talk with a wonderful friend who makes me very happy. I do dishes. I do laundry. I change the sheets and watch television. I contemplate making leftovers. I clean up my side of the bedroom. I blog. I watch Desperate Housewives when the man comes home. I contemplate sleeping in.