Letter from the Editor
Art by Kim Salac
Sometimes, life ebbs and flows. The “yay”s have their time, and the “uh oh”s steadily creep in uninvited. Other times, though, life flies out of nowhere, lands on your windshield, and cracks it down the center.
Last week, I left home for Charlottesville. It was a misty morning, but with a synchronous class on the horizon, I put my trust in fog lights and the warmth of daybreak, then went on my way. I moved steadily through a thick haze, past blurry creek beds speckled with reds and browns in the leaves of thirsty sycamores and the manes of nearby horses.
Then, after miles of dense coverage, the clouds suddenly lifted. Ahead, golden rays of light broke through clearly defined tree branches and lit my path forward. It was like a Grecian myth come to life. I saw my way out of the Labyrinth, straightened my spine, sighed a breath of relief, and then — PANG — let out an embarrassingly gauche squeal.
Two hours of limited visibility, and I come out unscathed. But then, just as hope shows its smirking face from behind a corner, a pebble the size of my pinky nail skydives from the heavens and ruins it all. When I got back to UVA, I texted my dad with the good news (I’m alive) and the bad (the windshield is not). Fittingly, he responded, “Ugh.”
In this edition of Iris, we face the fog in various ways. For some, there is clarity and magic to be found beyond this year’s low-lying wall of clouds. Pasha McGuigan’s fictional short story, To Name Something and Call it Her Own, follows a bibliophile determined to uncover a looming literary mystery. After a year of quarantine, newfound anxiety, and waiting for time to pass, freelancer Addie Gilligan authors I Fall in Love Every Day, in which she vows to just enjoy “the damn moment.” Plus, in A Poem About a Hike, Lulu Jastaniah assures us as we stare down the gloom that “The overlook is worth it.”
Other writers, though, echo the “Ugh.” With sharp comebacks and searing chronicles of f*ckboy-induced cringe, Lexi Toufas divulges Why I Didn’t Go On My First Date. Then, in How It Started. How It’s Going., Sadie Randall refuses to let UVA’s racist legacy hide behind the haze — frustrated and overwhelmed, she clarifies: “This pandemic has shown me what is necessary.” Prompted by the fast-approaching presidential election, Chloe Lyda asks Can You Separate Your Morals from Your Politics?, and answers about as subtly as rock snapping glass.
Disorienting as the journey may have been, the Iris team emerges from the fog of this year with gratitude, humor, and resilience. Bursting with honest confessions and soul-derived calls for action, this edition of Iris posits: after white knuckles on steering wheels and fractured windshields, maybe there is unexpected power in simply living to tell the tale.