Excerpt from “English”

by Olivia Alegria (’14)
From the Sarah Fontaine Unit

“When one has reached the highest possible level of excellence, there is a ceiling that keeps him or her from rising up so far that he or she does not float away entirely. Absolute possible perfection is a hotly debated concept, but most parties have agreed that it is nearly impossible to achieve, as proven by the multitudes of people who have obviously left large amounts of potential energy dangling in the ether. It is a little-known fact that Benjamin Franklin developed the first machine whose purpose was to measure the potential energy carried by the possibilities of a singular human being. It is widely considered to have been an unsuccessful model, yet it can be said that there is no possible way of proving its results to be inaccurate.”

“There are two men in front of me on the bus talking about music and art. It would be nice if I were able to talk about such sophisticated things. I’ve always thought I must have the mental capacity for it—I am intelligent enough, I just need to know how to tell good art from bad. I also need to make enough money to buy the art, ha ha. But I feel like I could get somewhere, like I could understand something important that I’ve felt for such a long time, something inside of me. It’s such a strange thing to know some way out, but not know it. I don’t want to stop thinking today, because I believe in luck and I think I’m in the middle of a mental domino trick that spirals in to the big Thing I must understand. I am going to my friend’s farm from college. I am on a Greyhound bus. I can’t stop thinking or else it will go away. It will make me so happy I won’t have to worry about romance or money or other things I want. I will be whole and uncorrupted, and I will be fine with myself, and I will know the right way. I mean this is optimistic obviously, I don’t know how anything could possibly work out, and obviously looking at the circumstances I am probably wrong, but I am a hopeful person. The guys in front of me are still talking about art—such stamina! I think art goes well with wine. I will take a wine-tasting class someday, so I can appreciate it fully. Apparently, with the right training, you can taste whole other worlds in things like wine: spring orchards and lemongrass and maybe even some meat dishes. Maybe I will teach a wine-tasting class someday. The woman walking down the aisle to the toilet at the back of the bus has callused feet, which I can see because she has taken off her shoes. Maybe she is a tired saleswoman, and she is having an affair, and she is truly in love though she will not admit it to herself that her life could be so complicated, yet so hopeful. I think I would like to be a good judge of character.”

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