I made Meaghan mussels marnière and we smoked a cigarette each on my fire escape for the first time. (Whittling away at my sympathetic Gauloises stuck in a drawer after the volcano, and some cloves I’ve probably had since we shot our project pitch video.) “It’s like joint custody,” she said, passing me the uncorrected proof back.
Every time I read my story it gets less autobiographical. It could prove that Hélène Cixous maxim, “‘Author’ is a psuedonym that fools no one.” She wrote memoirs that read like literary criticism. I ate up The Book of Promethea at nineteen. I loved women and didn’t trust my feelings and wanted to know what people meant by post-structuralism. I had all these confessions but the ones about words were harder to own up to. A graduate student who taught Duras and Trinh T. Minh-Ha invited me over to watch “The Lover” with her and her partner after I missed an in-class screening. (I had been supporting a building occupation in protest of racist campus policy changes by liasing with the press. The AP ran a photo of me huddled in a blanket on the steps of the administrative offices. My grandmother told me I looked like a refugee.) I never went to her house. It was too intimate, even for me with my no-boundaries. And just too much, to consider sleeping with a teacher of Francophone postcolonial feminisms.
“You’re producing evidence,” this observant boy said after Meaghan’s party, us trailing behind the rest. This page I can hold. (This proof that costs more than a book will!) We can’t change a word now. I can’t (I did at the last minute, one or two).
We told the writers, give us a real story, as true as it can be for your ethical understanding of truth. I am pretty sure I wrote the right story for this book, but the wrong story for myself. I trust myself now. I couldn’t until I’d followed this thing through to the end (the affair, the book — which cannot be the same thing, I need to accept that the book came first, that I grafted one to the other as a way to propel myself through the production, that a book is not a person, that me the author knows everything there is to know about a story but the story is not my life).
I’d like to love something else now, in addition to this.