M. and I wrote this, together, back in the early days. It was still a bit new then, to write fiction online, with (“hypertext”) links. We were new to each other, too. Writing it, I remember, was a way of trying to love. I remember afternoons kneeling on the floor of his rented apartment with slips of paper, our printed texts. We would move them around, try to make the connections. And then we’d each go back, write some more fragments, return to the floor. I remember those late afternoon hours as the light faded - heady hours shared in this little world we tried to create with words.
M. remembers it differently. When I say, let’s work on a project together, he eyes me warily. Do you think that is wise? he asks. Do you remember what it was like working on ____ ?
For a time, we had several projects together. There was a novel about a floating girl. We read from this together - in Philadelphia, I recall, in Providence, in New York. We had matching bright orange jumpsuits that we wore, and while I don’t remember all the details, I remember there was a giant orange canvas sac that I had sewn for the shows, and that at some point during the reading, I zipped M. into it, and rolled him across the stage.
We had a band. We called ourselves Djuna (for Djuna Barnes, of course). When the posters for our (only) show went up around town, though, people thought we were called “D.J. Una.” Which, I suppose, had its own kind of charm. We played at the Safari Lounge and some guy heckled us so persistently, I was afraid to do my favorite song, the one where I whispered nonsense lyrics in French.
It was another life we were living then. How easy it is for me to fall into romanticizing the past, to soften its edges. To gloss over the difficulties - the disagreements, the hurt feelings, the frustration.
But isn’t it enough to live those, in real time? Can’t the gift of memory be that it is imperfect?
About Kokura: Two young anti-nuclear weapons activists tell their individual stories, and the story of their failed love. The dates and sites of nuclear weapons testing loop along the top. Kokura was the intended primary target of the second atomic bomb dropped on Japan, but Nagasaki was chosen when weather conditions became unfavorable over Kokura.