Sherisse Alvarez is a writer and editor living in New York City. She received an M.F.A. from Hunter College and a B.A. from Hampshire College. Her work has appeared in Palimpsest: Yale Literary and Arts Magazine, the anthologies Becoming, Revolutionary Voices, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a memoir that explores exile, loss, and desire. Excerpts, past projects, and a more detailed bio can be found on her website.
Photo credit: courtesy of the artist
Excerpt from Parting, a memoir in progress:
It wasn’t about the money. What led me there was hysteria.
I couldn’t imagine doing away with the memory of Kareen completely—that would mean agreeing to never see her again—but it was an attempt at blurring, or putting into remission, the memory of her death. The summer after she died, just before I turned eighteen, I would undo that immeasurable grief by becoming someone else.
The friends and close net of support which forms just after someone dies had all but dissipated and I was left with myself. One afternoon when the stillness had become unbearable, I circled an ad in a New York City newspaper: Professional photographer seeks female models 18-25 for films and pictures. I called and spoke to a man named Travis. I wrote down his address, found my way to his Brooklyn apartment a few days later.
He was frail and had small red curls for hair, his face uninteresting but thinly freckled. Not many people I knew had freckles; it made him seem benign. He had a slightly hunched posture like someone who might, in time, require a cane. I went in and he closed the door behind me. A soothing quiet occupied the apartment. With that quiet came the unkempt smell of sex, a danger that seemed beside the point.
Long curtains blocked the light from fully entering. A stark contrast existed between the shimmery dark of the room and the flat white of his skin. I sat down and he sat beside me, my body shrinking slightly when his body met the cushion, his gaze met mine. We were now sitting together, this man and I, and the door, so locked and shut, the door through which I had entered just minutes before seemed, despite its proximity, to desert me.