Joyce Johnson on Returns (and the Pull of the Past)

by Florence Sunnen

“I’ve had a lifelong reluctance to reenter places I’ve left, a resistance to anniversaries, family holidays, visits to graves or offices I used to work in. My adult life has been one of discontinuities. To pass a house where I once lived is to feel a magnet pull upon my innards – I feel I could open the door, climb up the steps, take the key out of my pocket, walk into rooms just as they looked before moving day. Thus I avoid certain streets. If I visit my mother in the apartment where she still lives twenty years after my father’s death, an enormous drowsiness overtakes me. She has a cat who shreds the furniture. One night it vomited on the piano top, removing its mahogany finish.”


Joyce Johnson – Minor Characters. A Beat Memoir.