Some people have days when art is too much to bear while others of us have pink sweatshirt days. I have two pink sweatshirts, a dark one and a light one. Both of them were purchased on vacation because that’s how cold it was in San Francisco and that’s how sick I was down in Fort Myers, Florida. Something about going on vacation uproots things I didn’t know were bothering me. I did not have a restful, relaxing time out in California. The nodermeet was fun but apart from that the trip was pretty much a bust. Going to Florida was even worse. I was sick on the flight down and by the end of the week I was wondering if the constant nausea was morning sickness. Whatever I had eventually went away but I spent most of the trip sitting in solitude, listening to silence and shivering beneath my dark pink sweatshirt.
Historically the month of March has been a time of change in my life. A friend of mine from high school was killed in a car accident when I was nineteen. She was driving up to school when she hit a patch of ice and lost control of her vehicle. The news was especially hard to take since another classmate of mine had been killed six months earlier. He died in a freak construction accident and maybe it’s because I went to bed thinking it would have been my friend’s birthday that I woke up crying after I had a dream about her. I went into the computer room, I started typing and I didn’t look back. The things I write are mainly for me. I wanted to write about things that were going on in my life. I wanted to create people I could connect with and places I could go to when I needed an escape. I wanted an opportunity to put people like my friend into memories that wouldn’t fade and if who and what I write about is for me why should I care if no one else likes it?
The characters I created are people that I want to meet. I know these people are out there because all of my characters are composites of other people I’ve met. None of my characters are my friend that died but her story is part of what I want to write about. She had a boyfriend through most of high school. We finished our third year and when we came back for our fourth she told me what had happened to her over the summer. I won’t go into it partially because it’s still upsetting and partially because I don’t want to write about it as if it’s real. I want to think about her problems within the framework of a fictional world where instead of her dying in a car accident she goes on to marry the man she fell in love with so many years ago.
During the time that she was alive I wouldn’t have said that she and I were especially close friends. Mostly we sat around complaining about our respective parents, roommates and the horrors of going to a Preparatory school. The conversations were typical teen talk but one day I came back from class to find a card and a gift sitting on my desk. The gift was small but carefully chosen. She must have known me well as fifteen years later I’m still thinking about what she gave me. After my friend's funeral her mother gave me a hug. Our graduating class was small. Everyone knew everyone else, almost everyone came to the funeral but the hug was important to me because not everyone else got one.
I write about people dying tragically young because I remember my friend and her funeral. Writing is a way to preserve the memories of the past as I move towards the future. I have had days where I felt like I couldn't get out of bed. There are still times where I feel like I can't do anything. People perceive me as an adult but if you look closely you'll see that I’m still the little girl who needs the comfort of a soft pink sweatshirt before I can sit down and write about how I really feel. Lost, adrift, lonely and fragile. The warm cotton of my pink hooded sweatshirt is insulation against the chilly indifference of others. I reach for it when I need protection, it goes with me as I walk down by the lake. Late at night and first thing in the morning the sky has pretty pink ribbons running in, with and under the rest of the colors. My bright pink sweatshirt matches some of those stripes and on my walk back I’m not alone like I was before.