I’m Elizabeth. I don’t have any children or a job. I grew up in a place called Elizabethtown, a little town in North Carolina, but I have always wanted to be an actress, so I moved to New York City, and we probably wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t moved here and if you hadn’t moved here or it would have been harder to meet anyway. When I was little, I thought the town I lived in was named after me. I thought that it was my town and that people moved there because they wanted to live near me, but then my parents had my little sister Annie and then they had my little sister Mary and then that didn’t make sense anymore. We weren’t living on Ann Street or living in the state of Maryland. But then when I was in the fourth grade, I had to write a report on Queen Elizabeth and ever since then I have always wanted to have an era named after me too. I wanted everything to be Elizabethan. I used to wear a crown and sit on a lawn chair in the front yard waving to cars as they drove passed our house. The royal hand wave, sometimes people thought there was something wrong with my arm. My parents thought I was crazy, but I’ve never been institutionalized.
I made paper airplanes and threw them as far away as I could out of my backyard, but they always crashed into a tree or a fence or a house or the ground. I stopped making paper airplanes after I saw the airplane crashes that happened on the evening news. I never knew if anybody survived.
After that, I collected tree braches that had fallen in rainstorms or that had died and broken off, and I spelled out SOS with them in the backyard. I waited for airplanes to fly across the sky during the afternoon and then I waved my arms so that they would see me. I kept hoping that they would save me.
Michael Kimball is the author of four books, including Dear Everybody (which The Believer calls “a curatorial masterpiece”) and, most recently, Us (which Time Out Chicago calls “a simply gorgeous and astonishing book”). His work has been on NPR’s All Things Considered and in Vice, as well as The Guardian, Bomb, and New York Tyrant. His work has been translated into a dozen languages and he is also responsible for Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard). His new novel, Big Ray, will be published by Bloomsbury in Fall 2012.
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