Synecdoche with References to a Previous Life in Iowa City
by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Those relatively free nights, we’d hitch rides with Charlie and drive to nowhere. At nature’s edge, we’d openly admired the green and gold horizons and spout prose about cow pastures or shooting stars.
Other times, we’d patronize the town’s spaghetti hall (amateurs performed country on Mondays). We northerners alternated between reminiscing about department stores, movie houses and general urban amenities and admiring, aloud, the local, dust-covered homesteads of our grape-stomping professors. Above the sound of banjo and guitar, Charlie, my officemate, Sandy from the writer’s workshop, and Dani, the published poet, would shoot whiskey sours and would dive under the table for the crumbs from our communal garlic bread.
None of us finished our degrees. Dani’s assistantship dried up before he earned enough credits. Sandy dropped out when her mom died. I got married. Charlie got drafted.
Back East, we forgot Kenneth Burke, enthymematic reasoning, small time literary magazines and the integrity sometimes concomitant to creative nonfiction. Of my Iowa coterie, one became an executive assistant, another proofread copy for a New York-based conglomerate, and a third joined a commune.
As for myself, I took to selling blood, to wiping bottoms in a daycare center, and to photographing birds for the local chapter of the Audubon Society. After a handful of babies and almost as many menfolk, I reinvented myself as a technical writer with a specialty in editing texts about disorders of the alimentary system. When a few research hospitals became clients, I was able to pay the rent.
(KJ Hannah Greenberg is usually too busy parenting her teenage sons and daughters to contemplate her navel. If she had five extra minutes, she would bake quinoa pie and feed it to her imaginary hedgehogs. Meanwhile, she steals time by sleeping a little less and laughing a little more. On rare, alternate Tuesdays, Hannah and the hedgies fly the galaxy in search of gelatinous monsters and assistant bank managers. Sometimes, they even catch a few.)