Andrew Abbott (born 1979) currently lives in Madrid Spain. He attended the University of North Carolina (Wilmington) where he failed beginning ceramics twice. “My work is mostly small and done on paper because up until this point I have lived a pretty un-stationary lifestyle and I’ve never had a studio where I can do large works.” To see more visit http://allabbott.com
We Did Not Return
Image. Imagine. In 500 words or less.Bangkok Map
I want the knowledge,
I crave the city map, the plan,
the ground with human tracings written small.
The 3rd Assistant Concierge follows me into the garden.
Things have happened in gardens before, I know, my senses serpent-sharp.
I think she said: "Where do you want to go?"
I have no idea where I want to go: hardly ever do
I was hoping this time the map would tell me.
So I stammer something about food and hunger and she says:
"I could show you
good girl-show. You like girl?
Top secret, don't tell hotel."
"I am lesbian," she goes on. "You don't have to be afraid of me.
"I take you to ping-pong show, banana show, cigarette show.
After show, you stay with girl, bring home.
Bring home be good for you, yes?"
I tell her: I can't get much topspin from my paddle:
it makes me resentful of ping-pong,
cigarettes stink and
I just had a banana at breakfast. No thanks.
When she walks away, I wonder.
What shows I'd show to go you
if you were here or I were there.
Would I take you to the puppy, kitten and toddler show?
Or the sashimi and Allagash Tripel show with the Dancing Kumamotos?
Or the soulful poetry show with the big chocolate eyes
and the snaky, forearm punctuation?
And after show, would you be my home?
Be good for you, yes?
The passengers erupt into applause as the plane lands, but I am not applauding. I am retching into a paper bag. I regret that the contents of my final Turkish meal did not stay with me even for a few minutes on U.S. soil.
Soon everyone is taking out cell phones. I pull mine out and begin to dial before it occurs to me that the phone has no service in America. I am not worried; Mom will meet me at the gate like she always does.
I used to enjoy the tradition of meeting Mom at the airport. There were hugs and smiles and comments about my new hairstyle, and she would embrace Murat and tell him her plans for our visit. I will feel an emptiness when I meet her alone. Without Murat, the novelty of Chicago-style pizza, gigantic SUVs, and whole aisles devoted to breakfast cereal will not amuse me. I will have to claim these cultural artifacts as my own without the smug knowledge that I will return to Turkey, where Murat and I will stroll beside the Mediterranean and eat fresh mussels from street vendors.
My stomach lurches at the thought of mussels. Murat has ruined them for me. He has ruined Turkey for me. I cannot experience any part of it without thinking of him.
I stay seated until the plane has emptied and then slowly make my way to the exit. A flight attendant says something to me along the way, but I ignore her. If I try to speak, I will beg her to let me stay on the plane.
I pause in the doorway before stepping out. I think about the mussels and the clear blue of the Mediterranean, about lazy afternoons in Turkish cafes and the bright red of the Turkish flag. I think about how Murat and I drove deep into Anatolia one summer, looking at ancient ruins and sleeping under the stars. I think about holidays with Murat's family, how his mother proudly cooked homemade dumplings and his sister taught me to read fortunes in coffee grounds. I think about how Murat assured me that he was at the library all those evenings he wasn't at home. It seems I did not learn to read fortunes well enough to determine my own.
“Abuja is the capital of Nigeria. It used to be Lagos, “I inform the ‘quizmaster,’ but he shrugs and says that he didn’t write the question.
“It’s just trivia,” Colin tells me, “By definition, it’s trivial.”
Last night I told Margot that I’m the saddest person there’s ever been. She said that everything is relative and that I need to put things in “perspective.” Think about the people in Africa, she said, who don’t have food, and therefore don’t have the opportunity to make abstract conceptual art. So I shouldn’t feel so sad because critics don’t like mine. I should feel lucky to have critics. Starving Africans don’t have art critics.
Margot texted me today and said that she doesn’t think she can be around me any more. Or, she can be around me, but not in the same capacity. I’m too sad. Though the word she used was “depressed,” because that makes it sound more medical. It gives it more weight. You’re a dick if you break up with your sad boyfriend, but if he’s depressed…well, it’s hard to be around someone who suffers from mental illness.
In light of the breakup, trivia should feel more trivial than usual, but it doesn’t. It feels much more important. I tell the “quizmaster” that the game has no integrity if correct answers are marked as incorrect. I gesticulate vehemently with a cheese fry. Bits of faux cheese speckle my dark polo.
Colin tells me to eat my cheese fry already.
After my last show, Margot told me that my art could be interpreted in too many different ways. I saw nonrepresentational labyrinths. Critics saw somebody trying too hard. Margot saw PVC pipes. And if I left it so open for interpretation, she told me, I couldn’t be upset when people went ahead and interpreted.
But the capital of Nigeria is Abuja. Nothing to interpret. “Everything’s relative,” I tell Colin, “And I really need this to be more than trivia.”