I wrote “Parting Stains” in the middle of a long distance relationship, thinking about all of the romances in which lovers are kept apart. In so many of these centuries-old stories, (Tristran and Iseult, Lancelot and Guinevere and Elaine of Astolat, Beauty and the Beast) this distance necessitated suffering, wasting away, and often death.
My own version grapples with the pervasiveness of such stories in my culture, and so, in my own
understanding of the situation. The echoes and expectations of how I should feel and behave in a long distance relationship are simultaneously at odds with and parallel to my reality.
I asked for several readers to annotate my illustrated story and provide marginalia for a second copy.
* * * * *
Someone else has already written this story. Not quite the way I am writing it now. I am making some changes. In an effort to understand how the story, and past iterations have affected me, my expectations, as well as my culture.
A story is not just itself. A story does not even begin with itself. A story is the writers, and the readers, and their notes. Perhaps those notes turn into new stories. Because they were not satisfied, or too satisfied, or simply moved to shift from reader/listener to writer/creator.
But there are such gaps between us. We cannot guess at the repercussions of our versions of stories, nor at each individual’s interpretation. It is enough of a muddle to understand what we alone take away from a story.
Retellings are a part of this effort to understand. Through my retelling, I hope to bridge a gap between myself and past versions, between myself and my partner during a long distance relationship.
In asking for marginalia, I hope to bridge the distance between myself and the reader and perhaps
their own forthcoming stories. To shorten the long distance.
The books are hand bound an include seven ink illustrations and six hand-printed, 5-layer relief prints, accompanying my original text.
Special thanks to: Logan Callahan, Chiara Casati, Cathy Immordino, Jarrett Krause, Wenting Li, Folkert Tangerman, and Tess Wilson-Gay