J keeps asking me to write about providence.
“Write about Providence,” she asks me. All the patched asphalt spots in the street have sunken over the winter and we are bumping violently in her truck. Down town. It’s all because that morning I came up with a new description of the city.
“It feels like we’re actually in a huge factory and all these buildings are actually in a bigger warehouse. And not a good one. Something out of a Kurt Vonnegut book.”
At first I keep it vague. As if I, for some reason, mean to allude to all Vonnegutesque factories. I don’t. I don’t know very many. I’m referring to Player Piano, a not-very-good Vonnegut book (if there is such a thing anyway) that we used to have and I spent the better part of my child-hood reading the opening (factory) scene of. So one could argue that while I don’t have great breadth of knowledge, my detail is pretty reliable in this case.
I am particularly pleased with this last explanation of the city which fortells an eventual factory worker in the dystopic future because it is my latest analogy and therefore my best. Also, if they made a movie of it, maybe they would find a technology-filled room full of full-grown humans gestating in pink goo.
J likes it too.
“I dare you to write a story about Providence. Can I do that?”
“I don’t know.”
We’re at Borders in the Mall on our way to the Apple store so that I can find out which way I’m not covered for repairs this time. My computer hinge is broken. I can’t write a story about Providence if my computer keeps falling flacidly open or closed on me. Especially not in Providence. It’s too over-determined.
The factory analogy has replaced my assertion that Providence is the place I would be least surprised to see a zombie (tied with Ward, Colorado.) Before that, I called Providence a staging ground for a city. It was something out of Columbian magical realism: the city-dwellers (a dynasty of super/supra-human caretakers of town and myth) spend all their time and magic preparing Providence. It is a festival set. A place where a city is about to happen. Either that or it is being polished and honed by commercialism so that it won’t be surprised with Metropolis happens overnight (like DUMBO, now).
But I’m not going to write about Providence because I’m too smart for that. If I do, it will eventually be used against me. Deployed mid-fight by J who will have indexed documentation about how I feel about the place she lives.
I won’t write about it because, at times, I love it. No qualifications. No kidding.
But mostly I won’t write about it because I know you guys. You read my stuff and sometimes you laugh. I say it tastes bad and you immediately go out and buy some to eat. I mean, you pay money for the pain. Believe me. I know. I try hard to prevent you the pain. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from goodreads.com is that I can write the most discouraging, pained review of my life and an hour later at least two of my friends will add it to their to-read list. Then a few months later someone will inform me,
“Femmephane, I read Charlotte Gilman Perkin’s Herland, and it was terrible”
“I know. It starts out as interestingly terrible but then it gets really old really fast. I stupidly decided to write a paper about it once.”
“Yeah. I remember. You should have warned me.”
“Aren’t we good reads friends? I do all of my public warning on there.”
So when it comes to Providence I’m warning you: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.