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My Paper: A Love Story
By Jennifer Edelson
June, 2005, 13:41

ike a prosperous prickly pear, love blooms slowly maybe once every couple of years.

Last month, it happened in a big blossomy show of adjectives, nouns and verbs. Love grew within the confines of a single piece of grainy bonded paper -- an expanse of bare, lonely space, on a worn desk in front of me.

Let loose from its cardboard confines, this single piece of paper took on life outside my soul. It shined its pearly white and begged me to blow in its dappled ear. To breath on its smooth broad surface until it rippled. But love being what it is, I wavered.

Our relationship started slowly. For weeks we danced around our insecurities. We flirted with intimacy. At first, an uncomfortable silence stood between my desire and its longing. We wanted something magical, but didnít know how to express our feelings. I was afraid. My paper was unnerving.

Still, unlike so many papers before, my new darling refused to let me off easy. It waited impatiently, a repository longing for some frenetic thought to fill its crisp tight fiber. But then words appeared in a rush of loose-association, and my strokes came quicker, spilled out more fluidly.

Round left scribbles, up then down, affected my timing. My paper stayed firm, but my own resistance broke like a dam. And when my paper looked, hard, like black, black onyx into my eyes, I said, "Okay, you win. Take me."

My white paper. This semi-naked sheath of dimpled space like skin beneath my fingers. This deliberate scrap of unformed belief and quiet yearning. It insisted that I finish, that I keep going. It demanded -- like a hungry newborn baby. Still taut, and just a little dirty, it lay flat, yet slightly crumpled, like a stiff tucked sheet messed by human longing.

My paper, its soft surface and rough-hewed edges, climbed inside my heart completely. My hands filled its softer spots with substance. Filled the small spaces between it smaller fiber mesas with electricity. We merged, and in the process, all sorts of agreeable emotions came flooding out of me.

I tried but could not breath. I had no clue where it would take me.

Our skins touched, manuscript to fingerprint. No one, save my paper, had ever seen me so bare, so completely. I felt exposed, and my paperís arrogance seemed frightening. But it was a thrilling frightening. And satisfying. My mind hummed like a burning star as it falls to earth in a jumble of though and idea. And the burning hurt in ways that dove me crazy.

My paper worked its magic -- cast its spell. Only I didnít see that it was almost done, and still only cared about making it happy. As it took from me, I grew empty.

Laborís dirty sweat soiled my darling. It became, like many relationships, a shrinking wasteland of dedicated insecurity. A stenographic desert that bred sharp, spearing words. Like succulents scattered haphazard over unwieldy territory. Impassioned so deep, it almost, almost, hated me.

I wanted more but my paper spent its lines too early. Beneath a stark bare-bulb glow, my white paper shone like a dry expanse of sandy littered shore before a tumultuous sea. Brimming with too much life, it almost suffocated on vocabulary. Meaning, buried like sand crabs at high tide, was not as safe from drowning, as it ought to be.

My paper grew tired, and because I could not surrender, began choking. It broke into fragmented geography. Dissatisfaction bled between thin boundaries. So I tore it away, off its pedestal, and sent it to New York, as far as I could from my body.

Content to just exist alone, long lines and sultry characters defined my paperís breadth. Paragraphs and prose pushed against its story skin like well placed padding. They formed physical markers.

Pointed Tís and lean, swiney Sís imprinted dark moles against pale papery casing. My paper had a mind of itís own. It had admirers. It no longer needed me.

After weeks of passion and labor, I gave my paper everything Ė and it grew into its own and left me. For the kind of absolution my love for it alone could not be. In the end determination molded my darling and introduced me to a stranger.

And it, like all loves, left me alone again, feeling sad and hopeful and relieved. IN Icon 

Jennifer Edelson is a Minnesota attorney and legal writing professor. Her writing has appeared on all the finest refrigerators in the Twin Cities. Jennifer can be emailed at:

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