“If you had it to do over again . . . .”
What if you do have it to do over again?
This time without the brow beating, the screaming, and the yelling (and the disappearing act)?
This time without the ghost careers dreamed by somebody else and proven, for me, uninhabitable?
It would be different leaving the job-job at the bank and setting the compass for the South Seas, but that Gauguin by way of Maugham story’s about leaving: this is about staying and being for a while drifted in suspension.
Either way, either story’s about ambition and art.
For having been the good son, for having done too many favors, for volunteering, for working on other people’s boats, for taking permanent jobs that weren’t and wouldn’t be for anyone, for reading too much and grading too many papers (considering the result), for suffocating a long time, for being poor a long time too, for being a chump (too long) . . . I think I will be a while processing all that.
Old story: The North American Review sent me $20 for a short-short. I cashed that check, added about $4 to it, drove down to Bottom of the Bay on old Route 1 in Laurel, Maryland, and brought home a bottle of Chivas.
And that was that.