Whenever I’m visiting my ‘rents, my mother steals whatever books I have on me. Sometimes she tells me what she thinks after, sometimes not. I still haven’t figured out if she’s trying to gauge what sort of human I’ve become or just enjoys reading.
One snowy Michigan winter a few years ago, she quickly finished my copy of Bring Me Your Saddest Arizona by Ryan Harty. She handed it back over the luster of her giant oak dining room table. It was late, and I could see the soft blinking of decorative holiday lights flashing dimly on slopes of snow out the window.
“This book was really sad,” she said. I raised an eyebrow.
“That’s in the title,” I said. “What’d you expect?”
“I expected it to be happy-sad. This was just . . . depressing-sad,” she said.
I laughed at her and was slightly incensed by her dismissal. But I knew what she meant. There’s an emotion not unlike sadness, just next to sadness, that feels pretty great. It’s a sappy sentimentality — the quick, cleansing tears of a drunk girl. Sometimes I try to crawl into this emotion, just curl up like a warm fetus and suck my thumb and indulge in melancholy. Nostalgia is my favorite emotion.