The Privilege of Being

Erin thinks her writing is perfect. "It is perfect," she says, by which she means that she is perfect; after all, Erin is a writer, and if one’s work is flawless then does it not follow that one is flawless herself? I am not in a position to evaluate the validity of her claims. I am sitting on the third floor at my desk and out the window I can see the whitewashed winter sky and the tops of homes and trees waving their skinny arms hello or goodbye. I just do not have enough data. Erin, who has access to most of her thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (about 60%, I imagine), commands a far better vantage point from which she can evaluate her worth. She can hold her motives under the light and examine them for cracks, fissures, inconsistencies, corruption. She can bear witness to the formation of a flawless thought that I, for example, would never know even existed in that curly-haired head of her. "Sometimes," Erin confides, "I think things that are unthinkable." I defer to her better judgement.

Nonetheless, there is the incident of the missing twenty dollar bill to consider. This afternoon, Erin asked me, "Did you take a twenty dollar bill out of my coat pocket? I am sure it was there." I replied that No, I did not, and Why would I do such a thing anyway? but Erin had already turned and walked away, her curls angrily bobbing. Later, when I went to make coffee after a difficult day of empty pages and doubt, I found the twenty-dollar bill buried under the aromatic grains. Erin could not recall how it ended up there of all places, and although she immediately apologized – "After all, no one is expected to have access to all their internal processes" -- I still find myself watching her closely: the cross around her neck, her wild hair, the way she watches her fingers while she types. Meanwhile the trees are waving their arms outside; somewhere a tide goes in or out; the moon is waxing or waning overhead. I don’t know what happens when we die, or if life is a falling off from the first flawless light. I don’t know if Christ met the cross fearful, or like a bridegroom meets his bride. Either way I know this: He disappeared when he stopped making mistakes. Over a dinner of over-cooked chicken and wine, Erin and I try to discuss these things, but in the end we mostly talk about various failed loves from the past, laughing till the tears roll down our cheeks – laughing and crying as we pass the bottle.


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