By Lyndsay Hall
There’s an afternoon I attribute often to my becoming a writer, though it happened eighteen years after I started writing. I lived in a Miami Beach high-rise called The Flamingo with a man I wouldn’t recognize as pure trash for another month. The windows glowed teal over the harbor, and inside was a shitshow: electronic beats drowned in the walls, Molly was dealt and popped like Tic Tacs, hallway carpets swam in spills. On this afternoon, I was skipping class. I wore a bikini, because what did you think I was wearing?, and—not as an assignment, not born of anything—I wrote a short story. “Runaway.” It was about a broken engagement, or maybe some forbidden love affair. The antagonist was the boyfriend.
(My boyfriend will bring this up later as proof I’m lazy and unmotivated. I’ll realize only then that maybe I’d projected onto my plot there, maybe I should explore why I wrote that story, that afternoon, after nearly four years absent of the hobby entirely.)
I’d started writing, the first time, on the day in ‘95 when my father gifted me Mariah Carey’s Music Box: an album she almost entirely co-wrote: the secret I believed stupidly and committedly to becoming a singer. I probably wrote, if not certainly thought of writing, every day for twelve years until I gave it up after one less than stellar review from my tragically unstellar boyfriend. For writing to be what saved me from him—
It’s been almost a decade since that afternoon in The Flamingo. I moved out slowly over weeks, and after four months of crashing on my mother’s sofa—but often crashing on Sarah’s sofa, and once on Coloma’s sofa in a dog pile of our friends—I moved into an unremarkable, two-story, peach stucco building named Sevilla Plaza. Inside that home, I launched a small blog I still keep today and wrote a short story (if memory serves, a more hopeful one) that I sent and had me accepted into a summer writing program. But on first glance, outside its black iron gates, I knew I loved this apartment that had a name for no other reason than it wanted to.