SSM: “A Simple, Rigid Structure” by Andrea Kneeland

23 May

There’s been a lot of humbling, wonderful things said to me about my essay about how books saved me that I wrote here at Vouched a few weeks ago, and I thank everyone for all of them. But I have to confess, in the weeks that followed, I’ve realized how good I made myself look in that essay. It was my past I made to look ugly; myself I made out to be a redemption story, a conquerer of sorts over a life that could have pushed a lesser man to lesser things.

I’ve collected my fair share of lesser things.

Through college, I was at best a pompous ass, concerned so much about my own aspirations, I basically drug whatever girl I was dating at the time along through the swirl and mess of them. I lived like I thought an artist should live, carefree and fleeting, one idea to the next, believing that to regret my mistakes was to regret who I was. I probably still do much of that today, and I can’t help but to thank my wife for her grace.

The thing about being able to fold yourself up is that you can’t have any real plans or ambitions; at least not any that you allow to float to the surface very often. If you allow yourself to want too much, that wanting will start to take on a definite shape, will start to need room, and your ability to bend is compromised.

The problem with this is that when you are suddenly confronted without a safety net, and decisions need to be made, one thing seems exactly the same as the other. So when Luke left, she just gave notice at the Denny’s on Broadway, boarded a Greyhound bus, and tried for the exact same life in another state.

When she met Richard, she didn’t know he wasn’t the type to eat at Denny’s, that what he actually enjoyed were things like jogging and organic free trade coffee. He’d pulled in with some friends around one in the morning and they all ordered pancakes and Moons Over My Hammy and other drunk foods. He was the quiet one, the designated driver, and when one of the girls in his group didn’t quite make it to the bathroom before she vomited, he was the one to apologize profusely, to leave Susan a $40 tip plus a note to give $10 to the staff member that had to clean up the puke. His phone number and email address was on the bottom of the note. She felt both obligated and hopeful when she wrote him the next day to say thank you. He immediately asked her out for drinks.

Read the full story at Barrelhouse.

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