Amherst '95

Contributor: Sean Crose

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Back in '95 I was really into the postimpressionists. Van Gogh and Gauguin were my favorites. I'd watch the Altman film, Vincent and Theo late at night by myself in my parent's den while getting loaded on beer, taking time every few minutes to step out on the back porch to smoke a cigarette and reflect. Those were the times. Art was important. Life was a mysterious, golden gift from God.
I had a girlfriend at the time named Gretchen who lived up in Western Massachusetts, by the Vermont border. On the weekends I'd ride up the to see her and on the ride back home I'd check out the fields and hills around the areas of Sunderland and Amherst and marvel at the colors. Everything looked almost purple or blush – just like in the Gauguin paintings of Tahiti.
I'm not sure whether the fields and hills really looked that way or I just wanted them to. After all, the fields and hills of Tahiti probably didn't look much like Gauguin had painted them. To the post impressionists, perception was everything and I was following their lead, perceiving life as I wished it to be rather than as it really was.
Perhaps that's why I resented the fact that I lived in Waterbury so much. It was hard to perceive life in Waterbury being anything other than what it was. There were no great natural scenes that Gauguin or van Gogh would ever be interested in.
Also, it's hard to perceive yourself as a starving artist when you're trapped working part time in a busy supermarket. Gauguin and van Gogh would never work in a place like that. They would literally starve first.
As time went on I began to realize I really wasn't much like van Gogh or Gauguin. They were the real thing, starving artists. I was merely a writer who struggled under the burden of unconventional normality. To this day I'm not sure whether they had it right or I did.
I'm glad, though, that I'm not van Gogh or Gauguin. I'm not going to cut my ear off, after all, and there's no way I'm going to die from syphilis in a hut in the South Seas.

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My name's Sean Crose. My writing has appeared in such publications as "Crack the Spine," "The Copperfield Review," Six Tales," "Fiction365," and "Breakwater." I live with my wife, Jen, and Cody, the world's greatest cat.
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