Leaving

Leaving Hawaii broke my heart. For years, it was all I could write about. The tropics and heartbreak. I couldn’t separate them in my head, in my relationships. I’d flinch if you touched me. Even my skin felt wrong. In the cold, saltless North.

And place can break your heart. I believe that. Hard luck, few opportunities, poverty, meanness. It feels like somewhere else will give you a proper chance. Somewhere else you can be the person you’re meant to be.

Except. Except. I went back to Hawaii in 2000, just before the elections. It wasn’t the place I’d mourned. And I wasn’t that girl in any case. The thing about heartbreak is that it’s internal. That’s what we mean when we use that metaphor. Something inside us hurts. Not our city. Our center. I hurt. I hurt when I breathe. I hurt when I walk past that restaurant where you laughed. I hurt remembering kissing you in that park. The sunset feels like it’s crushing me. This place is killing me!

But what hurts is inside you.

The sunset doesn’t recognize you. That restaurant. That park. They don’t remember. They don’t have anything to do with your suffering. The dog goes on with its doggy life. Sometimes, you’re the only witness. And that can feel so heavy. So lonely.

Leaving Hawaii was the best worst decision I ever made. It turns out, it didn’t have much to do with my heartbreak after all. I suckled my injuries for longer than I should have. Longer than I needed to. Until they seemed funny.

My silly old heart. Recovering despite my best attempts to hold it down and forcefeed it the past.

Place is just where you lived for a time. Where a part of the story was set. But you’re the story. And you can’t outrun your center. It’s there in peace and in famine. It’s there in heartbreak and joy.

Last week, I hung out with a cat dying of cancer. He had this feeding tube like an odd antenna, and medical tape wrapped around his neck. His belly was shaved and soft as tenderness. He was so happy you’d never know. You’d never know his situation.

1 thought on “Leaving”

  1. People who didn’t move around so much when they were growing up have no concept of this – none.

    How you left yourself in that restaurant, whose floors you mopped every Thursday night. How those streets you walked, the colors, the smells, are stuck in your memory. The cognitive dissonance of going back.

    Layered on top of this, how you feel about your past can change, as well… that’s a trip!

    <3

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

More info →
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Powells
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle
A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

More info →
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Powells
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

More info →
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Powells
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle