May We Shed These Human Bodies (And Other Small Press Lit I Miss)

I’m home early for the first time all week from work and I’m busy deflating a mattress and cleaning up old furballs from my poor lonely cat. I sat back on my bed and stared at the computer for a moment lost trying to remember what it was I needed to do, and my eyes scanned over my bookshelf.

Have you ever heard of Curbside Splendor? It’s a small press based out of Chicago that I was an editorial intern for during college. I put-put around LinkedIn and see that old classmates are also shedding these editorial internships and other unpaid positions and transferring into the real-world parameters of what once-literary creatives are becoming–transcriptionists, admin assistants, billing coordinators. And I’m staring at my bookshelf thinking about how amazing this book, May We Shed These Human Bodies by Amber Sparks, was way back when I was an intern in a freezing winter listening to Alt-J, packing extra sweaters and lugging coffee tables through the blue line coming back from that little apartment in West Town.

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This book was so magical when I read it. It was all poetry and mood and devoid of adjectives, just pure noun and verb (at least in my memories). I flipped through the book to find a bunch of bottom-page dog ears and tons of underlined phrases. I used to write in a lot of my books to remember phrases, even just simple words, to jot down in a different notebook and reference when I was struggling for a word.

This was my favorite passage.

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“It is easy to make new people, but difficult to grow them, these restless ones that take so long to leave the nest. We are unsure always. Even now we long for leaves, for years marked by measured change, by rebirth and regrowth–and we sometimes leave this world early, hoping that, like Dante’s suicides, we may shed these human bodies for the punitive grace of greening branches and deep, steady roots once more.”

I always dreamed of writing like that one day.

My problem is that I find the actuality of the world we live in to be endlessly interesting. I find reflecting on my own experiences and habits and internal road-maps utterly fascinating and yet so vain and worthless. I don’t know how to make up worlds. I don’t know how to lie, to cheat, to do anything that would compromise the serendipitous nature of beautiful, blistering reality. I don’t write to lie. I write to see. And I miss it. I miss it dearly.

This week I’ve been going office crazy and spin off into existential thoughts about the trajectory of my life and what I will do for the next five, ten, twenty years. If I’ll spend the majority of the time locked up in a cubicle or if I’ll travel the world or live abroad and I feel like I’m choking underwater thinking about feeling so trapped to a screen for the rest of my professional life.

Hence, may we shed these human bodies.

One day.

 

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