January

— Chanda J. Grubbs

I write because I was raised by a man who reads encyclopedias for fun. Because I have the heart of an astronaut without the disposition for space travel. Because I believe life is worth tasting 3, 4, 5 times, and every time it’ll taste like chicken.

I write because some things are worth forgetting to remember in new ways, and I am already burning down and rebuilding every place I’ve ever lived, every love I’ve ever known. I write because there was this boy once. I write because there was this girl once.

I write because life will become one long grocery list if you let it.

I write because I have 8,001 origin stories and not a single one of them is real but they are true just the same. I write because no one wants to tell the unsexy immigrant story. The one with gaps, and blanks, and unfulfilling mystery. Or the one that starts with a young, handsome man leaving Germany far in front of all that Nazi business and breezing through Ellis Island with his pride and future intact.

He has an old family name, one that sounds polished and important, one that anyone can pronounce correctly on the first try. And he keeps it—unaltered. He goes on to a prestigious university where he meets and marries a charming Southern debutante and studies to be an architect. He becomes famously successful in a small town somewhere unassuming in the Midwest and his children grow up happy and sane and flawlessly Aryan. He buys a new Buick every three years. Always dark blue. Showroom blue, in fact. And he washes it on Fridays in his driveway. Everything is peachy keen until he finds God at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. That’s where the story begins. But the story also starts somewhere else entirely. With another young, handsome man leaving his home. And with it he leaves many other things. He pays for papers that say something different than they should.

I write because there are stories that my grandfather believed—stories of Gods I know only in name: God of Wednesday, God of wind change, God of rattlesnake shake and thundersnow and new growth on an old tree. God of bluff-sky and foal cry and delivering a sow’s stillborn litter. These stories kept him alive. And he is alive in them even now.

I write for the same reason my grandmother always kept on the radio after he died—to hear voices. To trick myself into feeling not quite so alone.

I write because it’s easier to write someone into or out of existence than it is to bring them into or out of existence with your bare hands.

I write because there are stories I know, and I’m the only one left to tell them. Because nothing is ever so completely lost you can’t get it back. And this time, keep it.

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