An Excerpt from IN A YEAR by Nicky Davis
Mackenzie Adams loses her father, a difficult yet lovable alcoholic, to a heart attack on the first of the year. This is a novel about becoming an adult, finding yourself, and what we do when a person we’ve wished would die for a long time, finally does.
… Last night was a bust. I barely slept, and instead laid awake reading about the Five Stages of Grief and being alternately irritated and comforted. I’m not sure if I buy into the model entirely. It has its points, but it’s also just obnoxiously tidy and cute. I don’t believe in emotions that come in five easy steps like that. I’ve never seen one.
So then I’ve been thinking about what I think grief is supposed to look like for me. About what I understand about loss. What it is and what it means.
You see, the shitty thing about being a young person is that everyone is always telling you about how young you are. You say something like, “Life is hard,” and everyone within a five-block radius who is even remotely older than you is immediately down your throat about how “you don’t even know” because you “haven’t even lived.” And then they laugh to each other in this really morbid and depressing way that suggests that at a certain age all this terrible shit happens to you all at once, and then you just “get it.”
I don’t mind telling you that I don’t believe in that at all.
I think age is a fucking joke. A person just lives. And you’ve just seen what you’ve seen whenever you’ve seen it.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an old person or not. It just matters that something happened and you were there. Because all the terrible shit does happen at once sometimes, but it doesn’t wait around for you to get old enough to handle it.
For more details out IN A YEAR and other works by Nicky Davis, check out her blog and website The Conversationalite.
I was raised to believe in two things, magic and love. So, I want to understand the new ways you are trying to get people to love you. Because that’s what life is about, so far as I can tell. When I write I think about which person in the room each character most wants to love them. Because that’s what motivates the words they say, the things they do, the way they touch their hand to their face. The things we do when we want to be loved are amazing, ugly, divine, dishonest and true. And at the end of the day, we are all just a bunch of fucking weirdos trying to survive it.
Being a woman of color, I’ve come up against a lot of pressure to write about “girl things” or “black things”—but the need to find love and belonging is a “girl thing”, it is a “black thing”, because it is an essentially human thing. When I write, it’s my chance to be a whole person, without the need to first be seen as “the black girl”. Sure, I write about the things I know—but if I can tell you a story that feels as true to you as it does to me, then for a moment we are sharing one experience. We can live the same joy and the same pain in our collective imaginations. And when that’s done, maybe something shared leads to something realized, something changed. And there is magic in that.
Nicky is a playwright, novelist and poet, writing about growing up and/or being black and/or being a girl and/or being a human. She wrote her first play. Good Morning, I’m The Voice In Your Head at 15, which she was lucky enough to see staged at The Seattle Repertory Theatre. From there she went on to write and direct her own work at 18, with If Today Were Perfect It Would Still Be Yesterday (and we would still be in love). At Yale, as an undergrad, Nicky was fortunate enough to study writing with Donald Margulies, Toni Dorfman, Hal Brooks and Deb Margolin. She was awarded the inaugural Marina Keegan award for excellence in playwriting, for her plays EARL and 23, and the Berkeley College Prize for Excellence in the Arts. EARL was also produced in a reading at the Yale Playwright’s Festival, and in 2015 was named a semi-finalist for the O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference. After graduating in 2013, Nicky moved to Seattle, where she worked with ACT Theatre as a literary intern. In 2014, her novel-in-progress, In A Year, took her to the New York for the New York State Summer Writing Institute. She had her first professional production of her 10-minute play White Kwanzaa in December or 2015 at West of Lenin Theater in Seattle, a work that infuriated some, and was relished by others. Nicky has been living in LA since late 2015, and is thrilled to be working for HUMANITAS in Santa Monica, working on her novel, blogging, and making tacos when she can find the time.
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