Reg Innell/Toronto Star/Getty Images
Joy Williams, 1990
This will be the fifth of a total of seven encounters (as of now) that I will have with Joy Williams.
Previous stories by Joy appearing in BASS can be found here :
Bromeliadsfrom BASS 1978
TheSkater from BASS 1985
Health from BASS 1986
TheBlue Men from BASS 1987
And I will encounter her again in 1995 and 2005.
Because Richard Ford (the editor of BASS 1990) decided to place the storied in the collection alphabetically by the author’s last name, Joy appears last in this collection.
The story is a fitting end to this group of stories – I really enjoyed it. Perhaps some of the enjoyment came from the knowing that I had reached the end of this book (more about this in the next post).
But – not to take away from this story, it deserved to be in this collection.
Dan Kois in his September 2015 piece for the New York Times on Williams writes - “The typical Williams protagonist is a wayward girl or young woman whose bad decisions, or bad attitude, or both, make her difficult to admire…”
In this story, there’s a little bit of that with Gloria. I don’t particularly admire her…but I like her –
As I read this story and details were revealed, I started to wonder if I’d behave the way Gloria does knowing what she knows. Perhaps at another stage in my life, when I was younger, I would – and it’s fun to think about it and run through various scenes, but now, my life, those who depend on me, look up to me, pretty much place boundaries on the extremes of my behavior.
But who knows?
I might have that opportunity.
How will I behave?
I’m looking down the road now and I’m facing a big ‘ol nasty monster. One that could start eating up my memories – and if this monster appears when it did in my father, I’ve got about 15 years – give or take. And if that doesn’t get me, there’s another one that could gobble me up in 23 years if it appears as it has in my mother.
Knowing what may be coming for me, has my behavior changed?
I believe that it has.
I’m not Gloria – not stealing a dog from monks or (basically) kidnapping a little girl.
No, I’ve made some lifestyle changes that I hope will keep that monster away – and give me, and my family a little more time.
I wear this ROAD ID dog tag on my runs. It has emergency numbers on it just in case I get run over and they have to peel me off the road. As you can see, there is also a key on the chain. That key came from my father’s attaché case – a leather one that he made and the key was used as a clasp. I engraved M and the boys initial’s into the key as a reminder as to why I am running. As I push myself down the road, the key bounces against my body reminding me, motivating me.
I get home, drink chia and make a kale smoothie, ginger, beet, turmeric, peanut butter, hemp.
I eat lentils for lunch and save meat for dinner.
I read and try to get some sleep – which is a real challenge.
I write in a journal about my fears – my hopes for my family if the monster gets me.
The monsters hang over me and my life and I think of when I might encountering them on a daily basis.
Sometimes those thoughts weigh heavily – like when I hear my father’s voice on the phone – as he struggles to form a single word…that emerges from his mouth as “helfujakf”. I think back to the last time I was able to have an actual conversation with him and am astounded at how much he has changed. And I wonder if one day my son’s will hear me struggle to get words out.
And the hugs I give my boys at bedtime last a little longer.
Will there be a trigger? Will there be a point where I can feel the slip? How will I deal with it then?
Looking back through these entries it looks like I first touched on this subject back in 2009. This was before the boys were born. I was wrestling with my future then, and I continue to do so today 8 years later.