The Bitch Ponders, Part 2

[Samuel Johnson, 18th century]

To continue the post before the one before this one:

I also thought that at the conference I might see M, who I worked with at the Miami Herald, he was my friend and neighbor (as in don't talk to your neighbor, schoolteachers would say; he was in the desk behind me, I think) and confidant. I knew he was getting an MFA in creative nonfiction.

So I am at the conference. I am invited to the cocktail party put on by ** University, where The One received her master's recently. Before I go, I'm standing in mezzanine level of the hotel and looking down and I think I recognize her in the lobby.

At the cocktail party. There she is. She is at the buffet and I am at the buffet and she is talking to someone and we are this far apart--but she is talking to someone and I say nothing.

Then I am talking to the person I came to see at the party. We talk for quite a while. Then we part and I am at the cocktail party saying hello to a young writer I know from a Jewish women's reading we did together. Then I am in the next room and I see The One and she is talking to a man in a dark suit. Next time I turn around to approach they are still talking but they have moved about three feet away. And the next time, three more feet. I am defeated. I do not want to pursue. It seems too difficult, psychologically, to trail them and insert myself inside their conversation. And then the next time I look, they're gone.

I am so agitated. I am so so sad. I am 90 percent sure that she saw me. I talk to an old friend from those days who says it is sad that The One cannot forgive me, that she is still holding on to that anger. That she should move on beyond that. I go downstairs to catch up with people I'm eating dinner with and I'm still sad and I tell them and slowly during dinner the sadness and agitation dissipate.

I still don't know if I'm thinking about The One and making the Sighting so important because she has rejected me. I remember a friend who broke up with his girlfriend then wrote her letter upon letter, and I thought it was way way too much, that he was besieging her, but then he went back to visit her and they are now married 15 or more years with two smiling children. I thought his pursuit was extreme, but I was wrong.

What am I so eager to talk about with her? What am I so anxious to discuss? I want to talk about the teenagers we were when we were starting college, and I want to know if journalism was ever as difficult for her as it was for me (crying in sheer anxiety before interviews), what she's learned in the years that she pursued that profession while I pursued style and "self-expression," why she decided to study "creative writing" and what she learned that was different from her everyday. My everyday is taken up with the study of the masters of the essay, and the current practitioners, and reading that I will use in my own work that I struggle to find a structure for. Only an idiot would ever write for free, but we, my brethren in the creative writing world, do it all the time. (As Samuel Johnson put it, No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.) We are innovators and thinkers and we are trying to convey meaning shaped in pieces that will last quite a while if not forever, but these pieces are not valued enough, and so though no one crosses our palms with silver, we offer our carefully-honed work to magazines that serve a thousand or five hundred or fifteen hundred. We write these things because we have to and how odd odd odd it is that someone who is making a living at journalism would choose to study how to write more exquisitely and for a much smaller audience.

Or maybe she is wanting to write books, and for a large audience.

--to be continued--