In all of my work, I am driven by the world around me, and the colors that I choose come from things I see on a daily basis. The inspiration for this painting came from a story I recently wrote involving the connection between two lovers whose lives never seemed to sync up enough to be together. I chose to create a diptych entitled “East-North Love” representing the duality of the two characters’ lives. The title refers to both the direction that the chevrons are pointing and to how the two lovers are never on the same page at the same time. One is going one way in life, and the other is going in a completely different direction. While their paths cross, their directions keep them apart. In representing the two lovers, my goal was to create a sense of chaotic balance in which there is no single focal point so that your eye is forced to keep moving around just as the two characters move around in life and never really get what they desire: each other.
When we think adventure, we think pirate ships, sinister jungles, or foreign cities. We think, quite simply, of going new places and seeing remarkable things. But an adventure doesn’t have to mean a glamorous journey. Disappearing into the world of a novel or appreciating the moment of a short story can be just as captivating and just as meaningful as some grand journey. With the right attitude, any moment of any day can become an adventure. ‘
In Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, our authors and artists have pushed the boundaries of what constitutes adventure, digging through the ordinary to unearth the extraordinary. I invite you to join them and look for the adventure in your everyday, moments of wonder, of risk, of opportunity.
With this issue, The Collegian begins its twenty-fifth year as Washington College’s student literary magazine. As the new EiC, I am excited to embark on the adventure of this quadranscentennial and hope you’ll join me each month.
Alone, high up on this mountain, the world feels like it is spinning out of control. Trying to stay motivated, but feeling hopeless. It seems as if I’ve been climbing forever, going nowhere. I’m going to need some help to survive. Isn’t there anybody around to help me? It will all be over soon. I can see the top from here. I feel my foot start to slip. I struggle to maintain my balance. Just a few more steps, easy does it. Suddenly, my balance is lost and just like that I’m gone.
from wet, fertile blood
where men fell
like dark, ear-tagged cattle
ripe with meat,
plucked at the peak.
The living feed
off of the dead
as sick cannibals,
roaming, starving scavengers.
We cherish death.
Survive because of
of our brothers.
I pick one baby’s breath
from the long, low stem,
I lay it on the grave
of a general
along a path that snakes
through a large field.
Mice cackle in the grass,
not emerging from the meadow.
They too have seen the blood
that runs in circles
over summer’s late blooms.
The check-in guy looked at me all creepy.
The lock fell off my door
and the air conditioner broke
in the gym.
I didn’t run more than 20 minutes
because it was getting dark
and this hotel is under a bridge.
Homeless people live under bridges.
And I do not want to meet
a bearded troll after dark
in a narrow concrete stairwell.
I could hear the greasy balding man
flushing the toilet,
and cursing at his wife
Adulterers probably come here,
don’t close the frayed curtains all the way
Take a shame shower
with a trail of strangers’ hair
lining the white tile floor.
Here, coffee filters
like small lumps of grainy charcoal
in the morning
when hidden desires dispel.
When great stories to tell my future brats come to mind, first and foremost is the time I found the purple guitar-shaped paperclip inside the Staples dumpster that the homeless guy sleeps behind in Berwyn Heights, Maryland.
One fine day, my friend and I were perusing the dumpster’s contents for office supplies and I found a solitary purple guitar-shaped paperclip. Then for a while, I carried it around with me telling its origin story to everyone I met.
I managed to earn quite a reputation as the office supplies enthusiast and dumpster expert. But then, alas, I lost my paper clip, and with it, my credibility and reputation.
A wise hot hippie once said: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone?” But I knew what I had. It was a guitar-shaped paper clip and it was purple. And it was cool.
So now every weekend, I visit the same dumpster, hoping to find some more purple guitar-shaped paperclips. But all I find is the same sleeping homeless guy. And now I’m starting to think that it’s been a corpse all along.
You are majestic, king of kings,
with a glorious golden halo
spray-painted over your lips,
and red holes in your soles,
in between your toes,
so your palms stay clean
until you cleanse them of it all.
Imagine your blood, your flesh, pasted
onto every living tongue, silencing them
with the morphine in your veins
once a week, each high forced
to last until the next. Hide yourself
from those puritan stone-throwers
who forget there is always a garden,
always an empty tomb.
What am I doing? I look like an idiot in my fresh running gear and clean shoes. My running pants are too tight and my jacket looks too fashionable. My hat and gloves feel amateur and I know I shouldn’t run to music, but let the nature be my soundtrack. Standing on a path I’ve only ever driven past, I feel like an idiot. I press forward trying to ignore the absence of my father, who admittedly kept me going before. iPod in hand, I hit play on the playlist I’ve made, letting my body and my thoughts fall in line with the music. The path takes me behind my house deep into my neighborhood. I pass homes that mimic mine, noting briefly what makes them unique and not my own.
The cold cuts against my face, chilling my nose until I can’t feel it anymore. I look to the sun, hoping for its touch on my nose and cheeks. The cold turns to sweat on my skin, which turns to heat within my jacket and shoes. My nose is running and it’s almost as though every fiber in me is trying to leave my body until I’ve promised to stop this madness.
My body wants me to stop.
My arms want me to stop.
My legs want me to stop.
I want to stop.
I turn down a path and run over a small wooden bridge that leads into a more wooded part of the neighborhood. I love the trees that hug the limits of my town. They give us color. As I run, I feel my chest tightening and twisting in ways that are so foreign. I can’t tell if these feelings of discomfort are supposed to happen, or at what intensity I am supposed to be aware of them. I can hear my own disgusting breathing over my music, which causes great embarrassment for me as seasoned runners pass me by on the paths. I hold on to the thought of my reward at home, an omelet prepared fresh with toast and grapefruit. Even so, the desire to stop and lay down like a disagreeable old dog is starting to overwhelm me.
I want to stop.
My body wants me to stop.
It hasn’t ever moved like this before. My chest is shocked; my lungs have never needed to expand like this. My muscles are screaming; they’d rather be in bed. My legs are stopping, my arms and shoulders are stiff, and my back is closing. My head is low and the rest of me feels betrayed. I try to pull myself further down the path that is now winding me around the pond into which I used to throw our koi fish when they got too big. Something to the left catches my eye. It moves rapidly behind me nearly knocking me over. I slow and steady myself. I slow and steady my nerves. I’m easily spooked, like a horse at night.
I yank my earphones out of my ears and turn to see what just nearly collided with me. I look through the trees, unsure of what I’m looking for. A person? An animal? I see the legs first, followed by the thin body and finally the frightened and reserved face. A doe stands watching, considering me. I’ve seen deer, the occasional buck, but always deer. I see them running through my backyard, taunting neighborhood dogs as they gallop past their fences freely, and I see them sometimes slain in fields or against roads. They nibble grass and steal from my mother’s vegetable garden. They leave perfect prints in the snow, and stroll in between the trees at a safe distance. I always see deer.
This deer in this moment on this cold January morning is seeing me. One of those people who had infested the land of her kind, forcing her to navigate the old familiar space timorously.
Her round dark eyes glare back at mine.
She is afraid, deeply so. She is nervous and unsure of what her fate will be if she continues this staring game with me. Neither of us moves. Neither of us looks away. I want to say, I’m not going to hurt you. It’s okay. But what would that do? I have nothing for her. I want nothing from her. She wants something from me. In her eyes, I can tell. She wants understanding, reassurance, and ease.
She is looking at me. Really regarding me, trying to discern what I am and whether she can, dare I say it, trust me. She is beautiful. I stand where I had stopped, where she had interrupted me. I don’t want to move for fear she will run away, calling me “another one of those humans.” I am compelled to earn her trust. I know what it is like to feel like a guest in my own home—if I could compare what a deer in suburbia feels like to anything. If she steps closer, like I feel she wants to, then I’d know this running charade would not have been a waste of time. I stare back at the deer, pleading with her to give me this sign.
She’s like any other deer I’ve seen before. I’m like any other human she’s seen before. Only, we are both standing here. I can see her chest heaving and she can see my breath flowing. Her dark round eyes are engraving me with serenity and I would like to think I’m putting her at ease. I do not wish to harm her and I know she does not have ill intensions for me. Something moves between us and I’m letting it be her call. Finally, she takes a small earnest step back, as do I.
When I step back I still regard her, holding her attention. When she steps back she still sees me, keeping her guard as high as it will go. Her head bows and I know this is it, she’s decided all she can about me. She turns her head and takes off further into what is left of her woods. I stare after her, wondering first why she stood there as she did, and next, why the hell did I? I always see deer. She wasn’t special. She fades until I can barely make out the sound of her small feet cracking twigs and stamping on leaves, and I see in her wake what I hadn’t seen in my own.
She was trying to claim her woods and I was trying to get her to trust me. She had been trying to stand her ground against a threat and I had been trying to challenge her to accept me. I didn’t need her trust; I needed her affection. I needed her message. I always see deer, but they don’t always see us. They don’t really see us. How I must look running, something they do for reasons I’ll never ever comprehend. They run for warmth, they run for safety, they run for travel, and they run because they can.
She didn’t stop because I startled her. She stopped because I enticed her. When two beings who can’t speak encounter one another, they speak through the eyes. She was asking who I was and I was asking her to trust me. I already failed her with my lack of consideration. As I put my earphones back in I took in a breath and resumed, grateful for the interruption. Grateful for the moment to stop and consider another being that also had some questions for me. I always see deer, and I always drive past this pond, and I always look at these houses that mimic mine, and I always think I should go running, but I never do. It’s when we stop doing what we always do that the ordinary shows us why it’s more than commonplace. That deer, admittedly no different than any other deer, found something in me. A connection.