I just finished reading Richard Brautigan’s last book, “An Unfortunate Woman.” In it he speaks to the death of his friend who was overtaken by cancer and then also of a former woman-tenant in the house where he sporadically lives who commited suicide by hanging.
Richard Brautigan killed himself.
David Foster Wallace killed himself a little over a year ago, this week.
I am still mourning the death of DFW. I did not even know him. I am devastated that he is gone. I read in the NYTimes recently that they are going to make a movie of the play they made of the book he wrote, “Interviews With Hideous Men.” I own that book. I read that book. I’ve read everything that DFW wrote, every thing that is, that I could get my hands on. I miss him. I miss his humor and his smarts. I miss reading a writer whom I felt I so thoroughly connected with. I feel so sad that he is gone. I feel awful for his family his wife, and even his dogs. [My dogs probably wouldn’t notice if I suddenly became dearly departed, until dinner time that is, then they would wonder and wander where I was – they stalk me at 7:30pm every night waiting for me to tell the boys to feed them.] I miss being surprised by some weirdo left-field article from someplace I wasn’t expecting to read DFW’s words. The US Open was this week, I don’t even like tennis, but I know he would’ve watched the matches and been awestruck by the upset his favorite player graciously experienced in losing to a young upstart from South America; so I watched the finale interviews pondering what DFW would have thought of the whole thing. I missed him.
I am attracted to depression. Men with depression. People who are depressed. I was not depressed, until recently. I can see in myself, a long pattern of depressives in my life. People with whom I intentionally sought the company of to balance me out. Now that I am depressed (as much as is possible for an ADHD manic such as the like), I find that I am not so interested in personally hanging out with the sadness of the living. Yet I still read, am drawn to the words, the feelings invoked, the psyche of the de-press.
Yet unlike the women of Brautigan’s tale. I have survived malignancy and do not feel any compunction to hang myself. I am a fortunate woman. I have a beautiful family. I have a cutey house. I get to grow my garden. My husband swears that he loves me and he did all of the dishes after he cooked a delicious meal this very evening. I can pay my bills – though sometimes I don’t want to. I have a happy existence. I live in fortuitous circumstance. I am fortune.
Yet I remain mysteriously unsatisfied. Why I cannot begin to say. My former classmate sent a postcard colored in orange (she knows I love orange) and stripped in black/white fabric that read only one word: transform. I know that I should, but to what is really the question. I have spent my whole life transforming, striving to be better. I’ve worked so hard – nearly to death. Am I not transformed enough to be satisfied? How would I know what satisfaction looks like, feels like, is like?
Richard Brautigan couldn’t live with himself after loving and losing the woman. With heavy heart I see that DFW just couldn’t go on living, period. I am living, I am tending, I am.