Dear Dr. Chmiel,
I just finished The Book of Mev! I journaled a bit as/after I read, and I just feel like sharing my writing with you. I’ll see you Sunday evening.
Page 299: Book of Mev. Here comes the sobbing I knew was inevitable. Sitting on the bed, propped up against four pillows in Walsh 352 clutching the hard, hardcover book with my ugly hands and losing it completely. My shoulders rattle a bit, more like a shiver than anything, and I adore the sunshine streaming into the window on my plain white bedspread, my toes, my jeans.
My God! Mev was real. Now she is in heaven and I’m reading this book about her and loving her and I am in heaven too, because of this. Thank you, Mev! Writing to a dead person. Maybe a little queer. Never mind that. This is Truth.
Tears pile up along my lower lashes. I wait for them to spill, but instead they dribble messily around the creases where one day I’ll wake up and find crows feet in the mirror. I’m reminded that I’m getting old and one of my tear ducts is deformed and I have a painful lump in my breast but six months, three breast exams and an ultrasound after finding it in Spring ’09, I know it’s benign.
There is no room for mascara in my life anymore. I’m always, ALWAYS brought to tears. Tuesday/Thursday/Markchmielday especially, I’ve learned not to risk it because I’m certain to cry at least a bit in his 9:30 seminar class and watery charcoal smudges on the bags above my cheeks would be a dead giveaway. Pause from writing.
The book is finished! My tears are dry and a smile is eating my brain. Mev took great pictures. The book closes with one of Dr. Chmiel in Brazil writing. Or is he sketching? He is happy. Same face I met with the first day of the semester in Beracha Hall on Laclede. Monsoon Wedding soundtrack playing and I wanted to dance and sing ‘Aaja Nachle’ at the top of my lungs.
Now Mark is my teacher. This beautiful book-its dust jacket already tattered on the front right corner-mine. Mev-like exuberance, laughter and over the stories just imbibed, mine.
I am rich, obviously, to claim all this. And now I’m brimming with desire: to sit quietly, reread all my favorites mentioned throughout seamlessly as a bordered bolt of turquoise silk for a sari-Being Peace, Song of Songs, Dorothy Day-or better yet, to run outside barefoot, find little Dikaksha, Diwas, or ah! maybe even an unsuspecting classmate, and scoop them in my arms panting, because all that is mine is TOO good not to share. I need to watch the sun come up over the Arch again, from my favorite spot-the roof of the East Hickory Garage-and worship God and video the horizon as the change from night to day bursts forth.
I have no more words, just excitement, a mental photo montage and a homeless bandaid that served as a book mark for four days. Wait! It’s not homeless anymore! I’ve just stuck it to my favorite page in the book. Go and find it, dear reader. I dare you!