The paint is still there. I can see it from my window.
It’s funny; I don’t remember being sad at first. I was seventeen then and all I can remember is an orange blur of anger and hatred. I hated her for messing up dad and I hated her for leaving us. You know, we didn’t even find her suicide note until almost two years had passed. I was a freshman at Princeton and was home for Christmas break when I found her letter folded up and shoved behind the front cover of an anthology of Poe. It was a sonnet. My mom was the only person pretentious enough to write a suicide sonnet. There was one stanza for me, one for my dad, one for her parents and two brothers, and the last couplet was for miscellaneous friends, family, and colleagues. She didn't leave a will. The stanza for me read:
My Troy, I will smile at you from above.
Your words are your gift and I wish you knew
Your life is meant for creation and love.
I only desire that you loved me too.
I think that was when the sad began. I had wasted so much time being mad at her for abandoning my family and ruining my father when I was the one responsible for her death because I never loved her enough. I killed her.
I wasn’t sad for long, though. The sad was like a summer rain shower that lasts for an hour or so and then disappears into the blue sky. I didn’t want to end up like my mother or father so I stopped thinking about them. I ignored everything that reminded me of my previous life.
I have always been very good at ignoring.
The problem with ignoring is that you can't really leave a top on a boiling pot of water without expecting it to overflow when your eyes are closed.
In the kitchen, my pot of water overflows while I look out my window at the graffiti. I rush to rip open the ramen packet so I can eat lunch before going to my first class at the community college.
Community college is just like high school. It doesn't even deserve the title "college." All the girls are trying too hard to move their hips when they walk and I can see the lines of make up along their chins where they tried to paint on new faces this morning. All the guys have spent hours making their hair look like they just got out of bed and their eyes have judgment instead of bags and shadows when they look at me, an almost-thirty-year-old, walking into B66, the Intro to Creative Writing classroom. I lower myself in slow motion onto the chair closest to the door and watch the glorified high school students parade in like a wave of swinging hips and artificial bed heads. Finally, a man about my age struts in wearing glasses too big for his face in his feeble effort to appear younger and hipper than he is. He looks at me, smiles, and nods, causing his snorkel-like spectacles to tumble off his nose and onto the floor in front of him. The girl closest to me snorts and covers her mouth to conceal her laughter. I look over to see that it is Lucia, the girl who dragged me to the bowling tournament the other week. She grins and flails her phalange spasms in some sort of enthusiastic wave.
Kill me now.
"Uh okay so we're going to-uh-get started now with-um-" The professor trails off and straightens his glasses.
Of course I get a professor who cannot successfully complete a sentence.
"Right so the-uh-creative process is what we were-you know. Right. Yes. Okay. Now remember that I was explaining on Tuesday that to takes a lot of focus and-well-effort to come up with inspiration for a piece because-um-"
His presence is painful and he is completely wrong about everything that has come out of his unnaturally small mouth.
"Writers have to-like-actively investigate their environments to find-"
"That's not true." I couldn't help it.
The professor looks at me like I just stepped on his puppy.
"The job of writers is to observe the world and write about their subjective observations. Not peel apart their surroundings looking for some bullshit to knead into prose."
"Sorry-uh-but-um-Mr. Holden is it? I don't-" His shaking fingers push his glasses up his nose.
"Do you know anything about writing or are you just some idiot they pulled in off the street to waste people's time?" I find myself standing in front of the class. "If you try to find inspiration, you will fail. You have to let inspiration find you. You know? Just like a watched pot never boils, a search for inspiration never succeeds."
The professor-I never bothered to learn his name-stands, stunned, opening and closing his tiny mouth like a goldfish.
I storm out of the classroom, fire in my eyes, ready to request a transfer to advanced creative writing.