The Thrill Of Acquisition
by Jessica Lohafer
Things are taking off around here.
Last weekend, my friends and I had Friendcation 2012. We spent three glorious days in Long Beach, eating bread, but also cheese. Plus wine. So much wine. It was cold and I didn’t care. I was finally somewhere else. Braving the hot tub in the rain, I told my friend Ben about my summer plans. We talked about traveling, and I talked about working a lot more at the bar. I’m going to get a lot of shifts in May, I said.
We talked a bit about fear. I realized that nearly all of my anxiety can be boiled down to one sentence:
I don’t like anything I can’t prepare for.
Death, you can imagine, is quite the challenge to me. Showing up, unannounced, rearranging the furniture. I’d love it if we could have a sit down chat; I would express my desires and make my needs known. Death, in turn, would offer me a clear picture of how it’s all going to go down. There. Doesn’t that sound well planned? Clean?
A plan protects you. Guards you against regret. How can you worry about the future, if you’ve got it all mapped out on your calendar? I’ve never not done anything I wanted to. I live, safely.
A few days ago, I received a letter from Holden Village. They’ve awarded me a Creative Resource Residency for the month of May. Half the time, I will be the poet in residence, finally working on a project I’ve kept on the back burner. The other half, I’ll be volunteering in the kitchen. I will be without internet or phone access. This wasn’t my plan. I gave up on this internship weeks ago, neatly organizing my every upcoming move. Now, I am about to enter the wilderness, and I was only given two weeks notice. I’m a little afraid. I am also fairly certain this is the best thing that could happen to a tightly wound woman like myself. What will I be like when I get back?
This blog will have to go on a momentary hiatus during my residency. I promise to be writing it all down though, and when I come home, there will be stories. With new characters. New conflicts. New anxieties. And we’re going to figure out to negotiate death. Please stay with me, won’t you?
the water will come up to meet you
you can count on that.
you watch your friends
take off without you,
confident in the shore.
They tell you to run into the dark,
instead of clutching the wine you’ve chosen
to be your new life-long friend.
You won’t leave me,
so certain of what you can’t see
They come back, shouting
excited for your eyes to adjust
The only way to see
is to pull your gaze across,
pacing the night sky,
avoiding the light.
Put them both in an elevator.
He chooses the seventh floor,
her the sixth.
They nearly rush into each others’ arms
around floor three
But they hesitate,
unwilling to undo so much progress
She’s eating pretzels
Each bite shuddering its sound
a cacophony in this waiting room
He pulls his phone out of his pocket,
checks it. Puts it back.
Gets it out. Checks it again.
Sighs lightly, as to seem
remarkably popular and
generally well liked.
What would happen
if they were to be stuck?
The elevator hovering
just below the fifth floor
Does their conversation
focus on rescue, an effort
to minimize this disruption
Or, do their fingers each reach
for the emergency call button
Hands accidentally brushing
Contact for the first time in months
There are some people
we can’t help but forgive
Not today, though.
Doors come open at floor six
she nods, smooths her skirt
Hopes he’s watching as she leaves
He checks his phone again
decides that salmon,
would be the better choice for dinner.