…or what was intended to be a tribute to the great Veva Purvious, who recently announced her impending departure from my law firm. Eyes on stalks and Mini-me in tow, she is making her way to the door, has very nearly now passed through the door, even as I put down a few remarks here.
This is not a tribute to the great Veva Purvious – not anymore, as anyone can see, as you can see – because in truth, it is completely beyond me now to write on a predetermined topic. Anything at all. Like the time I set off on writing about a business meeting of some import and it came out a musing on the size of a woman’s face.
It just gets away from me, somehow.
If it were in me to be a writer, really, a writer, staying on topic, well, that’s a must. Also it could be helpful, I believe, for me to know colors, and plants, and architecture. Extremely important in the way of descriptions, I am told, if you read them. Do you read descriptions, I wonder? Elmore Leonard, who was a writer, gave some advice for other writers, and he said, “Leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.”
I tried to read a Thomas Hardy novel once, a long time ago, I don’t remember why. I know it was called The Return of the Native. The first three pages of The Return of the Native were nothing but words about a landscape. An intricate description of, I guess, shadows and shades and of the subtle shapes of the various leaves. I thought to myself – and what a line that is, because who else would I think to? – “I probably won’t be finishing Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native.”
And I did not. Finish it, I mean. Because all of Thomas Hardy’s novel was parts I tend to skip.
What’s left, then? Honesty. Certainly, honesty. If not colors and not plants and not architecture, then at least honest emotion. Fearless and unblinking feeling. But here again, as with staying on topic and with descriptions of the various sorts, when it comes to honoring the great Veva Purvious, I find myself lost. A complete failure.
It is not for the reasons you’d think.
It is not that I lack the bravery. It is not, I believe, that I fear looking foolish when in fact I am nothing but looking foolish at each turn, practically all of the time. Rather, when it comes to the great Veva Purvious, my honesty collapses only out of a stubborn refusal to embarrass her in the unlikely event this blog ever somehow comes to light.
Tonight, on the eve of her departure from my firm and, let us be honest, likely from the rest and residue of my life, I will say this. I do say this:
Veva Purvious, it is not too much a thing to say you saved my life. When you texted me that night. When you sang Radiohead’s “Lucky” at the top of your lungs all the way driving me to work. When you inexplicably came ‘round to my house in order to roll loose change. When you wrote in your journals each morning just to tear them into tiny pieces each afternoon. When you used the word “pussy” in a joke to a roomful of old ladies, I stepped back from a not-too-metaphorical ledge. You are a force of nature, a paradox, and also you saved my life. To Hell with the rest of them, they are who they will always be, and to Hell with your own self-doubt – go ahead and wear the damn brown suit.
Honesty is exhausting.