I've had an index card taped to the wall in front of my desk that reads, "What a terrible mistake to let go of something wonderful for something real." I'll be honest, it was something I came across on tumblr and proceeded to jot down so that I could think about it some more and it wouldn't just be something I reblogged and forgot about for forever (...wait? what? I have a tumblr? That's embarrassing). It wasn't particularly inspiring but something I was perplexed by. Regardless, I taped it to my wall when school meant there was a heap of papers on my desk and I wasn't ready to let go of the words I hadn't figured out yet.
When I have to do homework, I usually do one of two things : procrastinate by cleaning or procrastinate by going to the gym (proving I'll do anything not to do it)(this makes me sound like so much more of an active/"together" person than I am but I'll tell you now I'm not a gym person nor a clean person). One particularly frustrating day, I googled the quote I'd seen on tumblr and happened across a dozen more oddly perplexing but increasingly more fascinating quotes that after a few scrolls and clicks revealed themselves to be excerpts from Miranda July's "No One Belongs Here More Than You" book of short stories! Alas! Miranda July is an accomplished college drop out that at 37 years old has published two books of her short stories, directed and written the film Me and You and Everyone We Know (now at the top of my 'to watch' list), and did all of the above while acting in Portland, Oregon. She'll also tell you that school got in the way of her beginning her adventures/aspirations and actually changed her own name to July based on a zine. Um, way cool.
I justified spending the twelve or so dollars on a copy of "No One Belongs Here More Than You" by telling myself I'd use one of her stories as my blog post for this class. Except, once I finished the book from cover to author's note, I wasn't quite sure what I thought anymore. The quotes I loved so dearly were needles in a haystack of a jumbled combination of plot twists, obscured reality, and a whole thought of stuff. In fact, in most of her stories I rushed through them so quickly to get to the quotes that I loved so much that I wasn't even sure what the point was or what it was about (...not that either is always necessary in a good story). Her amazing one liners that stand alone as quotable index cards to hang on your bedroom wall are perhaps the clearest clues as to the meaning of her story but other than that, she doesn't give you much but leaves you out on a limb to decipher the rest.
The story that stood out among the rest of the sixteen stories packed into the yellow covered book to me was called "Making Love in 2003". It begins with a nineteen year old young woman sitting in the living room of a publisher's home with his wife who told her that the fictional piece she wrote had "promise". One year after telling her so, she's back with the ultimatum that this moment will define if she is going to be a writer or if she is not going to be a writer. Unfortunately, he doesn't show up and she instead finds out that the woman who is eager to get her out of the house is none other than a famous author and also that her classmate is ahem getting risky with the publisher in his frontseat. The rest of the story follows revealing what that fictional piece was about (at first I thought it was a rape until I then realized it was the true story of her first love that she let go of) and then what she does when she teaches teenagers with disabilities. I still need to read it again to wrap my mind around all of the pieces, but the way in which the narrator recounts her relationship with the 'dark shape' is both relatable, haunting, sad, funny, and all together something I can't forget in the most genuine of ways. And I think I fell in love with being confused?
My favorite lines from the whole story:
For the first six months, I just walked around in a constant state of amazement. I looked at other couples and wondered how they could be so calm about it. They held hands as if they weren't even holding hands. When Steve and I held hands, I had to keep looking down to marvel at it. There was my hand, the same hand I'd always had- oh, but look! What is it holding? It's holding Steve's hand! Who is Steve? My three-dimensional boyfriend. Each day I wondered what would happen next. What happens when you stop wanting, when you are happy. I supposed I could go on being happy forever. I knew I would not mess things up by growing bored. I had done that once before.
If you like funky stories that are both emotionally driven and somewhat chaotic while still remaining down to earth and relatable, I'd recommend her pieces. I love how she makes out of the ordinary circumstances feel, well, normal such as an entire story about a woman who teaches swim lessons in her kitchen. Then again, the more I read her work the more I just want to read read read Miranda July and write less because I'll never write something so brilliantly.
*this was an assignment for my creative writing class
**go read Miranda July now