By Jason Gallagher


She would run out of the house, sometimes barefoot, to the cornfield that was the back border of her house with that of her elderly neighbors. No, during these outbursts, she often didn’t have the time to consider shoes. She didn’t know, or didn’t care, that she was, or could be, considered a cliché.

None of this clichéd life mattered. You didn’t think about clichés when this was your lived experience. Often, life is clichéd in the land where prairie and suburb coalesce. If she had been self-aware enough to know it wouldn’t have mattered. In this land, you can’t spend a single hour an artistic child without seething with that need to run. Escape.

Her cries were never, “My parents don’t understand me,” or “This whole town can go to hell.” Her parents listened to her needs and tried to be supportive: Buying her paints. Paying for clarinet lessons. With all this support, she often wondered what she was crying about. The cries were just another release of that energy that she threw into every song she sung, word she wrote, picture she printed. She will discover the word Dionysian years later. Not today.

In this part of the country, it wasn’t enough to dream of running off to Denver, to Chicago, to New York City. If wasn’t enough to become the next Joan Mitchell, Patti Smith, Beverly Sills. There are so few “artists” in her town that she had to fill every role. She would shuttle from chorus, to the dark room, to editing the newspaper all in a row without a break.

In a way, her cries came out of directionless fear. Paranoia. There would be nothing but agricultural college, or substitute teaching after all that creativity. The cries come from the inability to realize that it didn’t matter what you were doing at 18, or 35, or 72. Dreams die for some people! For others, dreams materialize overnight (like fucking Disney movies) and for others…

For others, rather it be under prairie skies, or with their feet in the middle of pot-holed burrio street, well, for those people, their dreams take forever.


Jason is a contributing editor at Evergreen Review. He currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife. His favorite food is waffles.