The road I’m on is long and straight and disappears into the horizon. And if when I come upon that distant point, I find only that it goes on and on.
I’m reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, which is exhilarating and heartbreaking all at once. When I was in college, I fell in love with the Lost Generation and all the literature that came out of the time between the two wars, when disillusionment was at an all-time high, especially for twenty-somethings. After I read A Moveable Feast, I thought about poor Hadley, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife who did nothing wrong except fall in love with him. What was life like for her?
The Paris Wife seeks to answer that question. I didn’t expect I would have so much in common with her. When the novel starts, she is twenty-nine and living in her family home, on the verge of spinster-hood. Then she meets Ernest and suddenly her world explodes. It’s heartbreaking because you know that it’s not going to end well, but she has no other viable options for changing her lonely life, and also, he sweeps her off her feet.
Even though we are living at the turn of a different century, I think a lot of girls bank on the expectation that their lives will fall in place when someone comes along and inserts a profundity into their lives in the form of true love. I’m trying to challenge this expectation in myself, because I realize it is something I now own. In an effort to examine it, I wrote this little piece which I like to call a “floem” (some sort of hybrid between flash fiction and poem, except this isn’t flash fiction, it’s more like flash nonfiction). I don’t consider myself a poet, so I kept it in paragraph form.
by Kerina C. Pharr
It’s a footpath winding through a leafy and sun dappled wood, picked along by the feet of deer and the hooves of Victorian girls. It belongs in a time when stories were the only fuel for the imagination, and books were the only things that kept us company when we were alone. I’ve chased it like a white stag, teased by a glimpse of fair hair between the bows of evergreens. What is this cruel trick of light, and illusion cast from a world that still tries to slip through the cracks around the door jam that divides the real from the fantastical?
I’ve walked too long on hard roads lain down before I ever learned to stand. My feet hurt. I can’t fool myself into believing I remember what I was once chasing. I’ve long since run out of breath. The road I’m on is long and straight and disappears into the horizon. And if when I come upon that distant point, I find only that it goes on and on.
These travelers, they walk alongside me but our paths never come to a cross roads. Sometimes they jut out in front of me and draw my eyes away from that far-off distance. But soon they fall in line alongside me, and I can’t see them any clearer than the stag that runs off into the woods.
“Die Alone” by Ingrid Michaelson