You Know Better: Issue Three

August 2008. I've been thinking about spaces - the places we go to, live in, leave, put our things. The ones we look to for change, for distraction and monetary salvation. It's true that in New York, our spaces - all of them - are smaller, closer together. That each of them rings of other people, of what came before. Still, this is how I prefer it.

Read on for a taste of this issue. To get a copy, stop by Bluestockings or email isabel at isabelsparkle dot com.


Your name is all over the state of Georgia. There's a town, a county, a university, even a trucking company. Several exits on I-85. Near Cowpens, South Carolina, Heather and I stop for snacks and fuel and meet two women in frosted blonde ponytails. "Where you girls headed?" asks the mother. Her daughter crunches potato chips beside her, shy but interested. "We're from Maryland."

"Home," says Heather. "Away," says me. We lean against our purple rental car -- we've given it a name, tucked empty snack bags in the door pockets, perfected the uncomfortable angle at which we have to hold the iPod adapter so the music comes through the scratchy AM radio stations.

Our new friends wish us safe travels and return to their car, pulling the pump out of the tank and replacing the nozzle with a clunk. Heather and I dust off our hands and exchange a smile. On the road, everything feels significant. Like the pockmarked pavement of this rest stop, the drawling cashier who wants to know if I'm Italian, the sun pushing through the trees across the street. Like how you're more here than anywhere -- how I drove 600 miles south to leave you behind, how quickly I ran out of steam. Maybe it's not surprising. The place we're headed was your town once -- your friends, your interstate, your park. Knowing we'll soon be driving past your old street, I feel a mixture of loss and hope; remembering you won’t be there, I can’t decide if I'll be relieved or disappointed.

Heather drops her cigarette to the ground, stubs it out with her cowboy boot. A moment later I'm behind the wheel again, turning the key, adjusting the mirrors. It's a beautiful day, the car runs fine, it's my turn to drive, we've got sweet tea and popcorn. But I'm already getting sleepy, and the yogurt-covered raisins we've brought from Brooklyn are slowly melting. I steer us up and out of the sloping access road, park crookedly at the stoplight and wait for the green. No one's coming.