I started this blog to document the process of writing my first book, The Saltwater Twin and Other Mythical Creatures. If you’ve spent time here, you know I mostly write about what’s going on in my brain as I write, revise and obsess over this massive project. I spend as much time as I can on the manuscript. But in the meantime, a girl’s gotta eat. So, today I’m going to share a story from my day job. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I wait tables a couple nights a week. But by day I’m an interdisciplinary teaching artist, which means I work with students, teachers and community members in schools, healthcare centers and jails on all kinds of writing and performance projects.
I’m currently working with a seventh grade class at a Chicago public school on the South Side through one of my favorite arts ed organizations, Urban Gateways. My students are creating a performance that investigates connection – the people, places and things they feel connected to and how they are impacted by that web of connections. Seeking material to inspire student writing, I started thinking about the missed connections ads in the classified sections of local papers or on websites like Craigslist. I thought that could be a fruitful place to start an exploration of connectedness. A little digging brought me to a beautiful site called Literary Bohemian, an online journal of travel writing where I found a prose poem called “new york craigslist > personals > missed connections>” by Megan Falley.
My students and I talked about the concept of a missed connection ad. I likened it to a flyer you might see stapled to a telephone pole or tree for a missing pet or person. We talked about the people we might miss a connection with – a friend or relative who died or moved away, a fictional character we could never meet in real life or someone we hadn’t yet met, but hoped we would someday. We talked about dreams and being weird and how in poems you can use images that are dreamlike and surreal to say something about a relationship that is hard to say in words. Here are some of the poems they came up with. I think they’re pretty brilliant. We’ll use these poems and more to compile a script the students will perform at the end of May. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.
You were last seen walking through downtown. I was the one that you passed by laughing. You were wearing a dress of writing, writing I supposedly wrote to you and I was wearing something white because you will never write to me. I want to see you as more than a friend but I don’t know if you want to see me as more than a friend. We should meet again in the middle of the desert.
You were last seen in the library. I was the guy reading at the table. I had a yellow and gray sweater. I felt that I found my true love. Meet me in two years at Navy Pier.
You were last seen in a field of snow. No. A closed door. No. Singing a love song to me. I was the one that cried for you. I was the one who called your name. You were the one who told me you loved me. The one who said hey to me. Meet me at the middle of the field of snow.
You were last seen in a house. Field of candy. Laying in a water bed. Now playing with your little toys. Now eating baby food and making a mess. Last seen in the park, swinging and singing. You were wearing your second outfit I got you. I miss you. I miss you. I was the one holding you. I had on red and blue. Picture on the wall, hearing your number one song. Reading your book. Watching kids’ movies. I watched myself letting you go. Make sure you meet me at 3:00. Make sure our eyes are open. Watch for me because I still see you.
You were the man who spoiled me and loved me. You were last seen at the movies when we watched our last movie together. Then three months later you were gone forever. I was the one sitting next to you with the long ponytail and nerdy glasses. The one who loves and misses you very much. Meet me in my dream at midnight.
I last seen you at McDonalds buying a Big Mac with a large Sprite. I was the one at the other register buying a chicken sandwich with French fries and a large Sprite with the light blue half jacket. I felt like I was in heaven when I looked into your eyes. I looked like I was starstruck. Meet me at table #4 and there I will be sitting, eating my chicken sandwich and drinking my large Sprite. I’ll be sure to be looking cool. I will not forget those wonderful eyes. I could never.