This micro nonfiction piece is packed full of metaphor and meaning. It starts with a brief (very brief) history of the PATH train that ran from New York to New Jersey, opened in 1908. It was a technological, engineering marvel. People were amazed that you could go from one state to another so easily, so quickly. That’s a metaphor–perhaps. The word state.
In the not so distant past, the writer is in a Walgreens and is hit on by the clerk. The clerk is a young girl, the writer assumes 17. I don’t know how he could know this for certain unless he asks. But he assumes 17, and because 17 he thinks back to when he was 17 and loved a girl. But at the time, he was also a girl–anatomically speaking. But now he is in transition. Also, an engineering marvel, going from one state of being (in the eyes of society) to another. But that’s not all. Even though he looks young he will be 30 soon–30 is, dare I say, still young. I hope so anyway. But this clerk at Walgreens believes him to be a similar age as herself. But transitioning, the author informs us, is like going back in time, in terms of physical appearance.
The PATH train is used again to show how Cornelius Vanderbilt stood, holding a strap, rather than sitting, due to how many people wanted to take the PATH train. When his friends made fun of him, he was not ashamed. He would, he said, rather ride standing there than to take a private car. The author connects this with the fact that everyone is trying to be someone other than themselves. An insightful piece about the change of society, but also social constructs. (C)
This piece is about everything the author doesn’t know. It’s about more than that, obviously–and it doesn’t always make complete sense literally, though metaphorically and emotionally it certainly does.
Lines stand out that touch the human emotional cords that all writers try to touch, try to stroke. Those ones are the ones about unknowing, about being afraid of mirrors, about jumping off a 50-foot cliff and not knowing where you might land. presumably, this author landed in water.
This piece makes me think about those moments I’ve had, fewer now than once before, when I’d look into the mirror for too long. It’s like saying a single word over and over and over and over and over and eventually, the sound of the word loses meaning. If you stare in the mirror for too long, your reflection loses meaning as well. It reveals as a shell that isn’t you and you, as in I, begin to question it. This piece is like that–perhaps for the author, and that’s it made me think of. I like that feeling. It makes my skin crawl. My eyes dry up, my mouth fills with a metallic singe as though I’ve just dropped a penny in my mouth, or perhaps something stronger. This piece elicited some physical reactions in me. I like that. It’s real–or perhaps just passing. (B+)
This short piece of nonfiction is what the title suggests, but also so much more. Abigail Thomas is older now than she once was. She’s in her 70s, still publishing, still writing memoirs. She even, if you read the little bio at the end of this piece, has 4 children and 12 grandkids. It is, perhaps, no surprise that she has written this piece. My father, who is also in his 70s now, is less forgetful than he once was, but is also forgetful.
But this piece is about the feeling of remembrance as much as it is about the act of forgetting. It’s about how to remember as we grow, about what we’re forgetting. At first, it’s about the small stuff. The real small stuff. Like keys, which you won’t forget for long if you lock your door. But then there’s a small section at the end of the piece that asks the question of what do we want to come back as. And this too is a rememberance, of sorts. A remembrance of what Thomas believes fish are or aren’t. A remembrance of the physical world, rather than intangible thoughts. I like this piece because it touches on issues I often think about as well. (B)