Monday, January 27, 2014

wishing on salt

This weekend marked my last P&W event—after a week of “lasts” that included my last trip to the Westwood Petco for kitty litter—and I felt acutely how much I’ll miss being in a room full of friendly writers who instantly get me. I know I’ll be in other rooms full of writers, but not in quite the same way.

Then one of them told me she could never take a job as a grant writer, because it would be too tedious for her creative mind. She also complained to our intern about the smallness of P&W’s grants. Apparently, she would like more money but is above asking for it. So at the end of the day, I was thinking about how I’d miss eleven out of twelve people in that room.

We spent half the day on writing prompts, one of which was “If you were granted three wishes, what would they be?” The writer who brought it led us in a guided visualization exercise, in which we encountered a genie at a garage sale. Here’s what I came up with.

You can't wish for more wishes, but you can wish for more throw pillows.
The genie hovers above the shoebox, a pink puff of smoke and gauze.

“Is there a catch?” I ask. I remember the book my mom once read to me, about the girl who wanted her divorced parents to get back together. The witch in the story made the girl’s sister terribly sick in order to bring both parents bedside. This story, I think, has colored my whole life. I always think my wishes are killing children just offstage.

“No catch,” says the genie.

I don’t know why I think I can trust anyone who lives in the same box as a pair of Steve Madden kitten heels, but I do trust her, or at least I give in to the strength of my wishes.

I look over my shoulder to make sure no one I know is around.

“Well,” she prompts, “come on. It can’t be that hard. And no wishing for more wishes.”

“Oh, I know.” Does she think I haven’t read the books? Seen the movies? The problem isn’t coming up with a wish. The problems is wishing. The implications, the responsibility, what it says about the universe and all that has and has not been granted.

But I’m a simple creature and I wish for the same thing I’ve wished for every time I’ve lost an eyelash for the past three years. I’ve wished on birthday candles and shooting stars that turned out to be airplanes, and salt thrown over my shoulder. I don’t think you’re even supposed to wish on salt.

Often my wish has spliced in two—for the bad thing not to happen, and the good thing to happen. But they’re the same wish, really, which is life. Which is love. And when you put it like that, it hardly seems greedy at all.

I’m not afraid of wishing. I’m not afraid of my wishes coming true. I’m afraid of becoming my wish, a sad pulsing thing made of longing, like a lone organ grown in a lab. They can do that now, I think. They grew a hamburger in a lab, and everyone said it tasted terrible, like they could taste that it had never eaten meadow grass or licked the head of its calf. Like what they really wanted was to devour the end of something.

1 comment:

Claire said...

Really enjoyed your wish story.