I bought a copy of Sylvia Plath’s memoirs from Amazon, a huge book costing me just a couple of dollars.

It was an ex-library copy, with a clear plastic cover and the “BIO, 920, PLA” sticker still on the spine. I wondered what kind of library chucks out a book by Sylvia Plath, and what they would replace it with.

I mixed up a drink of valerian root and warm water, which I sipped. I slept like death for fourteen hours. When I woke I did not recognise my apartment. But I felt refreshed. Like a child just born. Yesterday I was feeling neurotic about something, but I can’t remember what it was. I put on some loose trousers and a vest, and jogged gently around the park. Stopping to stretch and look at some crocuses freshly emerged from the ground. The mud giving birth to these flashes of colour. Insects buzzing lazily in the heat, and lighting on the petals. I jogged past the water, ripples on the surface catching the light, and fat carp swimming beneath the surface. Stupid and happy, nibbling at the weed and crumbs of bread thrown in by tourists.

I was about half way through writing my dissertation. A pretentious esoteric piece on mark-making as a mystic practice. An overblown way of saying that many people do art because they like how the brush feels in their hand, and the splodgy texture of the paint on the canvas.

I called my supervisor. “Is it ok if I change my dissertation?” I said, “I want to write about a friend of mine who’s gone awol,”

“What’s that got to do with The History of Art?”

“It’s an existential piece,”

“Does your friend see herself as an existential artist?”

“No, but that makes her self expression all the more authentic,”

“We’ll talk about it,” said my supervisor. I took this to mean no Cara, you cannot write your History of Art dissertation on your screwed up friend with whom you have developed an unhealthy obsession. 

I love biros, I love writing with biros because they have a tiny ball-bearing in the nib which rolls across the page as you write. I sat at my desk for an hour writing everything I knew about Katy’s life, trying to find patterns and sense. I found pain, chaos and confusion.

The next morning I got an email from Katy.

Hi Cara.

Hope you are ok. 

Sorry for not replying. Been busy. 

Do you want to go for a drink tomorrow??

Love Katy


3 thoughts on “Valerian

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