These are his eight reasons to keep living:
I’ve been poking around the Creative Outlet Mall lately, wondering if I should sign up for a class and if so, what class and for how much, when I saw this flyer for the 16th Annual One-Day Romance Writing Workshop. Too bad I missed it (it took place a month ago, but the organizer plans to run a romance writing class sometime in the coming year)
In the City of Possibility, an old warehouse has been converted into a Creative Outlet Mall. All kinds of creative classes get taught there.
The more popular ones are hosted in spacious seminar rooms with large windows and comfortable chairs. The less popular subjects get taught up in the rafters, in cold and filthy corners.
Events at the Creative Outlet Mall
“All the world’s a stage,” is the opening line from a funny As You Like It monologue on the several roles a man typically plays throughout his life. As he goes from one role to another, little seems to depend on his own thoughts; he slips into each role because of his age and what’s expected of him at any given point in life.
What roles are we playing, and have we accepted them without question?
Let’s take this theatrical metaphor of life and use it for relationships that have an abusive dynamic. Whose stage are we on, what role are we playing, and is it hazardous to our sanity and health? Although they’re painful and degrading, we can slip into these roles relatively easily, and stay in them for years – maybe most of our lives.
The elevator’s acting up again, so I take the stairs to my attic studio. On the third floor, I bump into Elana Elisa.
She puts a hand on my forearm. “Do you have a couple of minutes?” she says.
I wait too long for any lie to sound natural. “Sure,” I say.
“I was just going down to get the mail, and I thought I’d tell you some things. Seeing as you’re new here, it wouldn’t hurt to know a little more about your neighbors.”
If there’s a dominant feeling in Hugh’s life now, it’s futility. He had at one point a successful career in finance, felt that his success qualified him to speak about success more generally and become a life coach. He imagined himself a famous motivational speaker, with best-selling self-help books, seminars, crowds of admirers.
And he struggled for years, drained his savings, and took to drink.
Elana Elisa thinks I’m harmless. I don’t doubt that behind my back she’ll say unflattering things about me. But she’ll also confide in me, because I’m discreet and inoffensive to her.
Origins and Appearance
She’s middle-aged with short, curly dark hair. Her favorite outfit is a turquoise tracksuit. She generally favors tracksuits, though she isn’t given to exercising much. Her skin is pale, and she’s told me she dislikes sunlight.
She was born in Florida.
Howard is a grad student. Often, I see him roaming the basement laundry room in pajama bottoms and a faded t-shirt, a far-off look in his eyes.
Origins and Appearance
Howard is slender and athletic, with dark hair and eyes. He’s in his mid-20s.
His mom’s side of the family is Korean. On his dad’s side, his grandparents are a US military veteran and a woman from the Philippines. Howard himself was born in Mexico (to vacationing parents who didn’t expect him to arrive a month before his due date).
I’ve been binge-watching 1940s and 1950s Hollywood film noir with Howard, who just handed in a big end-of-term assignment that he doesn’t want to talk about. He was happy to have me join his celebratory binge-watch; he apologized in advance for the fact that he would be saying little and staring lots at the TV. He’s watched all of these before, and one of the few things he told me was that he’s dreamt sometimes of being a film noir detective. So then I thought, if you did wake up in a film noir, how would you know? Here are a bunch of signs you’re a character in a Classic Hollywood film noir: