This summer I took a trip to North Carolina, where I grew up. I have been living in Hawaii for almost six years now, and I haven’t lived in North Carolina for almost thirteen years. When I fly on a long flight I try to go, first class. Not that I need more space or leg room, I just don’t want to be treated like shit for twelve hours.
I took a book along with me on my flight. Even though the seats lay down and I have a glass of wine, I still can’t sleep on the flight. The only friend I ever go see in North Carolina gave me a book by Sylvia Plath called The Bell Jar last year for Christmas. I read the book for most of the flight, between trying to sleep and the services of a first class fair.
Sylva Plath was an American writer and feminist. Sylva Plath was also treated with electroshock and later committed suicide. Her life was very interesting and the book was autobiographical of the time covered. Here is more on Sylvia Plath if you are interested. As someone who has tried and failed, I can say there is no greater failure in life than a failure in death. The book kind of revolves around coming to grips with that failure and the confines of feminity.
I didn’t finish the book on my flight. I finished it at my aunt’s house that I stay with when I visit. My aunt was a feminist and a pioneer in the female entrepreneurship in media, she owned a print shop. She took me in when I was thirteen, which was a year after I first told someone I wanted to die.
Two years after she took me in I tried and failed. We don’t talk about that much. Reading the book made me remember why, it was painful, confusing, and embarrassing.
After I finished the book, I passed the book along to a dear friend of mine. The book had been passed around at least four times. I signed my name in it, just like my friend who gave it to me did, and below the other two names that I didn’t recognize. I flew back to Hawaii ever so aware of my own current stifling bell jar.
It was only three days after I returned to Hawaii that my best friend’s boyfriend committed suicide. I was the first person she called, I was there and I looked at the scene through my lens. Everything was a mess. Before he did it, he trashed my friend’s house. My friend’s house was a scene filled with trash, dirt, and broken glass. The broken glass took me back, and a deep sense of empathy softened the disarray.
He was in a bell jar too. I always sensed it from the moment I looked into his eyes. Last Christmas I looked into his eyes, he always avoided eye contact with me. When I looked into his eyes I had to tell him to look at me in the eyes. That is when I saw him, it was like he was already falling off a cliff. He was swimming in a thirty-second drop looking back up at me.
I couldn’t have helped him he was already gone, at least that’s what I keep telling myself.