12 Days of Significance (35)

By: Sheila Heti
January 4, 2018

One in a 2017–2018 series of posts reprinting stories originally written — by 12 HILOBROW contributors and friends — for Josh Glenn and Rob Walker’s 2009–2010 anthropological-literary experiment SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS. See below for more info about this ongoing project.




I never thought of leaving Cape Cod. I imagined I would live there my entire life long. But then Jack and I busted up — when I finally got the courage to leave — and I thought the smartest thing to do would be to start up a whole new life elsewhere. But where? Where was as beautiful as the Cape?

I figured I’d bring a little reminder of home with me, wherever I ended up, and I looked in newspapers and called people I had known from long ago, trying to figure out where to settle. I ended up in Denver for some reason. Basically, an old friend from grade school encouraged me to come.

I bought the shoe a few days before leaving home, and it came with me in my purse. Now I keep it on the mantle of my white-walled apartment where I placed it after unwrapping it from the Kleenex that first night.

But I haven’t settled in here. I long for home; the smell of the sea. Was I wrong to leave? Perhaps I was a coward. If ever that jerk moves out of town, I’ll head back there at once. But I’m afraid of being there in the same city with him. I too much liked sleeping with him every which way. I’d fall right back into his bed, where it was always so good. But there was misery in every other part of our lives together.

When I look at the shoe all I can think of is the glass slipper that finally fit Cinderella’s foot. Cape Cod fit me like no other place in the world, until Jack, that irritating grain of sand; that erotic burr, as I called him to Martha.

For thirty-two years I gazed at that sky, uncomplaining. I gazed at the sea through all different windows; windows in whatever place I’d rented near the shore. In Denver, I have no home among people. I am a stranger to the entire world; to this Denver sky.

The longer I stay here, the more lonesome I become. I really took my life on the Cape for granted. I experienced the beauty of life there without even thinking about it. Who knows? Maybe that is true happiness; to be made happy by something and not even be conscious of how happy it’s making you. Maybe you have to not know it’s acting on you in that way to even feel it in the first place. And you don’t even know you felt it till it’s past.

Sometimes I leave a penny in the shoe, those days when I’m feeling a little better about my life here in Denver; a little less displaced. But those days when my entire soul stretches toward the Cape, I take the penny out and leave it near the shoe. I tell myself, You are the penny, Doreet. You will now forever be at a distance from that really simple thing that held you loosely, but securely, with love.


SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS at HILOBROW: PROJECT:OBJECT homepage | PROJECT:OBJECT newsletter | PROJECT:OBJECT objects (Threadless shop — all profits donated to the ACLU) | POLITICAL OBJECTS series (1Q2017) | TALISMANIC OBJECTS series (2Q2017) | ILLICIT OBJECTS series (3Q2017) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 1 series (4Q2017) | FLAIR series (2Q2018) | FOSSIL series (4Q2018). 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE . ALSO SEE: SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS website | SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS collection, ed. Rob Walker and Josh Glenn (Fantagraphics, 2012) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY, ed. Josh Glenn (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY excerpts.

CURATED SERIES at HILOBROW: UNBORED CANON by Josh Glenn | CARPE PHALLUM by Patrick Cates | MS. K by Heather Kasunick | HERE BE MONSTERS by Mister Reusch | DOWNTOWNE by Bradley Peterson | #FX by Michael Lewy | PINNED PANELS by Zack Smith | TANK UP by Tony Leone | OUTBOUND TO MONTEVIDEO by Mimi Lipson | TAKING LIBERTIES by Douglas Wolk | STERANKOISMS by Douglas Wolk | MARVEL vs. MUSEUM by Douglas Wolk | NEVER BEGIN TO SING by Damon Krukowski | WTC WTF by Douglas Wolk | COOLING OFF THE COMMOTION by Chenjerai Kumanyika | THAT’S GREAT MARVEL by Douglas Wolk | LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE by Chris Spurgeon | IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Alexandra Molotkow | UNFLOWN by Jacob Covey | ADEQUATED by Franklin Bruno | QUALITY JOE by Joe Alterio | CHICKEN LIT by Lisa Jane Persky | PINAKOTHEK by Luc Sante | ALL MY STARS by Joanne McNeil | BIGFOOT ISLAND by Michael Lewy | NOT OF THIS EARTH by Michael Lewy | ANIMAL MAGNETISM by Colin Dickey | KEEPERS by Steph Burt | AMERICA OBSCURA by Andrew Hultkrans | HEATHCLIFF, FOR WHY? by Brandi Brown | DAILY DRUMPF by Rick Pinchera | BEDROOM AIRPORT by “Parson Edwards” | INTO THE VOID by Charlie Jane Anders | WE REABSORB & ENLIVEN by Matthew Battles | BRAINIAC by Joshua Glenn | COMICALLY VINTAGE by Comically Vintage | BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh | WINDS OF MAGIC by James Parker | MUSEUM OF FEMORIBILIA by Lynn Peril | ROBOTS + MONSTERS by Joe Alterio | MONSTOBER by Rick Pinchera | POP WITH A SHOTGUN by Devin McKinney | FEEDBACK by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FTW by John Hilgart | ANNOTATED GIF by Kerry Callen | FANCHILD by Adam McGovern | BOOKFUTURISM by James Bridle | NOMADBROW by Erik Davis | SCREEN TIME by Jacob Mikanowski | FALSE MACHINE by Patrick Stuart | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | UNBORED MANIFESTO by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen | H IS FOR HOBO by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FRIDAY by guest curators