“There’s this crumbling apartment building about five blocks away from my house. Brown bricks, a clearly unsafe staircase, and a permanent ‘for rent’ sign in the yard. I walk around it and imagine a life where I own the building, restore it, listen to the ghosts and all of their conversations, all the music they played and sang in these rooms. And what would those ghosts look like? I also like visiting the art museums that are ten minutes and seventy minutes away. I look at the paintings and try to determine which ones are truly cursed. And what kind of curse would they have? A painting of a young eighteenth century white woman wearing a wig is sure to kill all the houseplants. A still life of cheeses with a dull yellowish knife? Maybe that would cause a friendship to shrivel or a husband to start leaving wet towels in strange places. Questions like that—derived from putting myself in a space where I can ask those questions—get me to write notes in my cell phone or pull out a notebook. When the world becomes an adventure again, it’s time to write.”
Note: I wrote the above recommendation months ago; when this publishes, my current home state will finally begin a shelter-in-place order. I thought about writing something new, but that felt pessimistic. One day, we’ll go to museums again, one day you’ll look at the right painting or sculpture and it’ll make you want to write. In the meantime, you can visit these spaces online—I highly recommend touring the J. Paul Getty Museum.
—Megan Giddings, author of Lakewood (Amistad, 2020)