“So we might understand each other better:
I’m leaning on the cracked white window ledge
in my nice pink slippers lined with fake pink fur.
The air conditioning is sensational. Outside,
we’ve put up cheap picnic table beneath the maple
but the sun’s too hot to sit in…”
-Ada Limón, “How Far Away We Are,” Bright Dead Things
So we might understand each other better: I’m sitting at my kitchen table while last night’s snow melts, washing the dark streets into mischievous mirrors that half hide and half reflect the tall trees above them. An hour ago I had lunch. Lentils, onions, zucchini, kale. Delicious. Steaming hot. In a little while I’ll go for a walk, unless I lie down on the floor and watch the place where the walls and the ceiling become the corner.
Earlier today I talked with my PhD advisor Lindsay Rose Russell about how I start approaching gender and gendered identities in the first chapters of my novel. We were sitting at Cafe Kopi, a table and her tea and a pleasant hour of conversation settled between us. She listened, and thought for a moment, and then started, “Well, in my own experience…” and went into a little story about a moment she’d lived that started forming the way she thought about gender. I listened to that story inside the story of this snowy day, our wooden chairs, this afternoon talking together at the cafe while a stranger I recognized (I’m not sure from where?) came and sat at a nearby table.
Limón (and Lindsay) suggest a kind of writing, a kind of inviting through words, that I’ve been more and more drawn to in the last few years: the chance to ground whatever we’re sharing in a place where we live. Limón’s table beneath the maple tree, my kitchen table, the cafe, the childhood classroom Lindsay told me about — I think we understand each other better through living together, the embodied moments of this snow melting, that light falling, wherever you are. Sometimes we get those moments in person. Sometimes we can share them from far away when we start writing by saying, I wanted to tell you, I’m sitting at 3:13 this snowy afternoon and outside the streets are mischievous mirrors.