In the beginning, I had a small brown pleather suitcase. It had red and blue racing stripes on the side. When I came home to my mother’s, after two weeks at my father’s, my dog would climb into it, with my clothes, and fall immediately asleep, as if he was the one returning.
Eventually, the zipper on that suitcase broke. I used it anyway, carrying it with two arms, one to hold the flap shut. Things fell out in the car on the way to or from one of their houses. I was always dropping things. They got annoyed.
Then I had a plastic KLM bag from our trip to Europe with Mom. They gave it to us on the Dutch airplane, for things we might bring home from the trip. It was a cheap, bright blue with white lettering. It was only a square gym bag, not meant for heavy use. It didn’t last long.
After that, I used garbage bags. At my mother’s house they were the cheap white kind that sagged and tore easily. My father had sturdy black ones, so I tried to stash a couple each time I was at his house. With trash bags, you just tossed everything in each time. Lotion, clothes, books, Raggedy Ann, shoes, towel, toothbrush, shampoo.
When I departed for college, where I would live in the same room for a year, my father and stepmother bought me a set of luggage. There was even a garment bag, with little gold hooks for hangers at the top of it.
These are some of the stories that I know. Other stories than the ones I usually tell. The first stories, I guess.
Archives for November 2011
NER is pleased to be partnering with the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference for Audio Highlights featuring excerpts from readings at Bread Loaf on the NER web site. This reading, by Ellen Bryant Voigt, including the poems “Larch” and “Groundhog,” took place at Bread Loaf in August 2011. To listen to other readings and lectures, visit Bread Loaf’s iTunesU site.
Moby-Dick doesn’t have much plot to speak of; in 500–plus pages, the action can be reduced to a one- or two-page synopsis without leaving out anything vital…The book as a whole is aimed at some “ungraspable phantom of life,” is obsessed with the inscrutable depths of the sea—surely an allusion to the mysteries of the soul or psyche (choose your spin)—with the inexplicable lure of the color white, with the undefinable symbol of the whale, “be he agent or principle.” And then there’s the friendship between Queequeg and Ishmael to infuse Melville’s metaphysics with something warm-blooded, an emotional handhold for the reader. No, plot doesn’t figure in as one of the things that make this book memorable. Rather it provides a loose framework for the things that make the book hard to forget.