Guest Post by Katie the Roommate
Dear Folk of Blogland,
Do you remember me? I remember you. I’ve been watching you closely for a long time now.
I am Katie the Roommate. I’m the girl who lives in a world without lemons. I’m the one for whom a dead author’s face was powder-sugared onto a chocolate cake. And I’m the one who celebrates the birthday of this blog.
Today this blog turns three.*
Before we ponder that, though, let us reflect for a moment on the nature of this blog’s authors.
I’ve noticed that they like to talk a lot about plots, and a lot about pants. Probably there’s some rationale behind “pants” being the antonym of “plots,” but it a rationale that neither my godlike reason nor the Oxford English Dictionary has revealed to me. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, but from what I understand one of them wears pants and the other wears plots. Have you ever worn a plot, dear anonymous personage of Blogland? No, neither have I. Maybe plots are invisible. Maybe we have an Emperor’s New Clothes situation going on here. Maybe the reason Susan sometimes leaves the shower curtain open in strange configurations is because she’s hanging her plots out to dry. Who knows?
Here is what I do know: I wear neither pants nor plots. Not only do I have a predilection for skirts and dresses, but I also was born with a lobe missing from my brain**, by virtue of whose absence I am unable to comprehend plot. I mean, I can read a work of fiction, yeah. But I find plot boring. And incomprehensible. And sort of useless. Give me some dude standing in a field having a forty-page-long philosophical reflection on a mouse’s tooth. That’s what tickles my fancy. That’s why I read books.
Which I realise runs against the entire purpose of life of 97.2%*** of this blog’s audience. My apologies. Include forty-page-long diatribes and I will buy your works of fiction despite the plot that so disgustingly plagues them.
But my handicap does permit me a unique skill, which is of benefit to you here. I am going to do for you what Tyler-Rose and Susan, beplotted (or bepantsed) as they are cannot. I am not going to tell you a story. Rather, I am going to suspend before your eyes a moment.
You’ll have to excuse (or, preferably, glory in) the absence of Richard Armitage from this not-story, because I’m afraid it’s a rather serious not-story. A rather beshirted****, non-bepantsed thing.
So here’s the moment. Okay, actually it’s two moments. I’m fickle, and also not-writing three papers, so we’ll have two moments. But first the first:
It is sometime in the summer of 2011.***** There is a street somewhat to the edge of a tiny college town. It is extremely tiny to one girl who flies from a city with more people than my corn-fed, prairie-bound brain can count. Her name sounds like the reverse of the Tenth Doctor’s only true love. She lands at the airport and is satisfied enough with a bottle of organic yuppy juice from Starbucks, but soon she boards a musty van to reach that street on the edge of the tiny college town, and as she approaches, everything gets tinier and tinier. Tiny inorganic grocery stores, tiny roadkill, tiny lack of any signs of human life. “What atrocity have I brought upon myself?” she laments to the rather-concerned-at-this-point bus driver, as he drops her off on the side of the street in the tiniest town she has ever entered.
At the same time, another girl approaches. Her name sounds like a children’s book character whose inordinate passion for nylons, lipstick, and invitations will eventually lead J. K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman to claim that puberty is sinful. Which is confusing. And silly. But I digress. She is not wearing nylons, lipstick, nor invitations, but shorts. (Maybe that’s what plots are? Just shorts? Huh.) Her grandmother is very concerned that she is wearing shorts for her arrival at a fancy college campus. Shorts-wearer is very concerned that her grandmother is very concerned. It’s generally just a concerning situation. Her van is less musty, but just as much filled with concern as the van descending into the hellish pit of tininess that is a tiny college town.
So there’s a tiny town, a street, and two concern-filled vans depositing two girls who have never met nor heard of each other****** on the side of that street.
They’re not thinking about novel-writing. They’re thinking about shorts and grandmothers and organic soda and dead deer.
An overly cheery admissions counselor hands them their room assignments. They are in the same room. From what I understand of the event, they were more delighted, at least at first, that Tyler-Rose had showered since she last rode a horse so that Susan didn’t die of an allergic reaction at their meeting than that they were both storytellers.
They figured that out in due time, of course, but that’s a story and therefore incompatible with my brain. Ask them if you’re curious.
Back to the second moment: three and a half years later, October 2014. On the same street, but on the opposite side. Tyler-Rose and Susan are still roommates. And they’re spending their Friday evening not wearing nylons or lipstick or, I think, plots (but since those might be invisible I can’t know for sure), but writing greeting cards slogans they can sell for big bucks during their starving artist years.****** They laugh a lot. They think they’re quite clever. They probably are.
So there you have it: a not-story. One street in a tiny town, three and a half years, and two girls who haven’t left it, nor tired of each other. Except now they laugh instead of bemoaning their wretched existences and/or their shorts. Which is preferable, if you’re their roommate. And isn’t that a wonder, that a story I can’t tell you bridges two moments, and makes and keeps a friendship?
Okay, one more moment actually.
Tonight I attended a concert. A folksy, vaguely-famous-for-a-hellishly-tiny-town band had come to town, and that was enough to get all the professors out in fancy dress with their spouses. Across the theatre from me, I saw a line of professors and their spouses, all of whom I know to have heaps and heaps and heaps of children. Just an incomprehensible number of children. But none of the children were there. The parents must have procured some brave babysitter to wield the lot of them, or maybe they just gave up and left the zero- to seven-year-olds to themselves. Either way, here were these professors and their spouses, all friends, enjoying a night out together.
I think we tend to look at things like that and say that that’s the essence of friendship.
Except that it’s not. There’s twelve dozen children between those three professors’ homes; if these nights out are the essence of their friendship, then their friendship is pretty darn measly. The thing that has made them friends is not the vaguely-famous-band concert they attend together in vaguely-fancy dress once a year. It’s their mutual sorrows and joys, their shared endurance of twelve dozen children, their joint suffering of a teeny-tiny town and its inorganic grocery stores. That’s the meat of their friendship. The vaguely-famous concerts are, to be trite (because it’s 11:58 PM now), the icing on the cake. But it’s a really dry, tasteless cake of suffering and concern and horror.
This has taken a dark turn. There’s also some laughter in the cake! Some poverty-stricken greeting card slogans! Don’t worry! The cake sometimes tastes good!
But you, ye lucky little ducklings of Blogland (if you have managed to read this far), get the always-awesome icing of constant vaguely-famous concerts. You get Tyler-Rose and Susan in fancy dress all the time. You get the leisurely moments of the day, when they have procured a babysitter for their plots and their pants and are just chilling out in happy-land, clapping at a banjo solo
All of this to say: the constantly-awesome awesome cake of The Feather and the Rose is pretty awesome, but you wouldn’t have that cake without the tears-and-agony-and-occasional-laughter cake of their friendship, without their suffering each other’s plots and pants and potted plants. And that’s pretty awesome, too.
Everything is awesome.
Happy birthday, blog.
* Theoretically, it turned three on Saturday, October 18. But since the 2nd blog birthday was celebrated on Saturday, October 19, a day after the actual birthday, it seems fitting that the 3rd blog birthday be celebrated two days after the fact, on Monday, October 20. (By the time this is actually written and posted, this will no longer be true, but let’s just pretend. The infant Clive Staples Lewis wrote a poem cycle called Dymer that begins with this lovely address:
“You stranger, long before your glance can light
Upon these words, time will have washed away
The moment when I first took pen to write,
With all my road before me—yet to-day,
Here, if at all, we meet; the unfashioned clay
Ready to both our hands; both hushed to see
That which is nowhere yet come forth and be.”
That’s what we’re doing here. Welcome to my life: Monday, October 20, 2014, 10:04 PM. I’m glad to have you here. Isn’t 10:04 PM swell?
** Tyler-Rose and Susan will be starting a GoFundMe campaign shortly.
*** Hi, Arena!
**** Heaven forbid shirtlessness.
***** I realise this is all written in the present tense and I know that Tyler-Rose and Susan hate that and that makes me giggle. Hee hee hee.
***** Unless Facebook somehow had connected the two of them before this, but that makes for a much more boring not-story. Ignore reality, please.
****** Sorry not sorry if one of you were going to write a post about this and I’ve now stolen your content. Or if I’ve let slip your top secret income source. Oops.