A Desire to Vanish – Polished Personal

…the impact of separation in an individual’s life

Text: “Perpetual Motion” by Tony Hoagland

Theme statement: When an individual desires to be removed from circumstances in the present, they will, in the moment, feel a sense of satisfaction, and will trick themselves into believing that the desire to separate themselves from their circumstances is stronger than their desire to remain.


Everyone at one point in their lives will feel like wanting to separate themselves from an unpleasant circumstance. But what prevents us from doing so is the uncertainty that comes with separation. But when we’re courageous to face the unknown, we might just find ourselves packing our bags, heading out the front door, and traveling to wherever the road takes us.

This is what I wanted to do when things become uncomfortable.

After we ate, my cousins and I would go upstairs, and we would start playing some board games so that we didn’t lose the time we had with each other. My parents would be downstairs having their typical talks about how life was going and how everyone was doing. 

My aunt would look at them as if she wanted to really say something, but then just gaze down, muttering something under her breath while my uncle would step forward with a large grin on his face, telling them that it was all fine. It wasn’t. 

My parents would be getting ready to leave, but not with me as I was spending the night with my cousins.  My uncle began to look anxious and twitchy, perhaps thinking to himself how ‘in a little while’ he would be removed from having to deal with all the people in his life, he would be removed from these unpleasant circumstances.

This is what he wanted to do when things become uncomfortable.

Not a moment after the door would close, he would go towards the pantry and pull out a bottle of alcohol. My aunt would have looked at him before he took his first step towards the pantry and already realized what he was about to do. She would grab his leg or his arm or anything that she could and beg for him to not do this while I was still in the house, but he just looked at her without any remorse and pushed her away. One bottle would turn into two, two into four.

He guzzled the bottles away like it was water. This is what he’s do – he’d vanish into the bottles.

Drinking seemed to give him pleasure, perhaps because he wasn’t happy with who his wife was and how his kids turned out, or perhaps because he disliked the people he was forced to be surrounded with. Instead of having to physically remove himself from his family, he would simply drink and let his mind wander and separate.

It was as if when he looked at my cousins and my aunt, his ‘loved ones turned into strangers’; he could no longer recognize who they were, and it was as if his mind was driving halfway across the country, with the windows down and the radio on, convincing himself that he was doing something which involved ‘freedom and becoming’. 

My cousins would start bringing me upstairs, afraid of what he was about to do. He looked at one of my cousins, and he rushed towards her, realizing that she was trying to keep me away from him and slapped her. My uncle had buried himself into an anonymity so deep’ that it had no bottom’, and he didn’t realize it. He would behave strangely and move his face close to mine, with the strong smell of alcohol leaving his mouth, with nothing to cover it up.

When I saw my uncle after he drank, he seemed so much happier – he felt satisfied with himself. It was as if he was ‘between the future and the past’ – in the present – but in a different place and a different time, somewhere far away from this moment.

He vanished.  I wished to vanish too.

He would be laughing for no apparent reason, and at the time, I would look at him and believe that he was happy as well.

In the next moment, his ‘desire to vanish’ became stronger than his desire to remain. He would rather live distant from his unsatisfying reality, embracing his false illusions nurtured by the liquor. I was only a child; how could I tell, how could I see through his facade when I couldn’t understand the reason for why he didn’t want to exist with me in this moment. Maybe after a few years, I would understand, but I would never agree with what he did.

As he separated from himself, he separated from his family, from me – and we would never be able to see him without fear, without terror.  For a life vanished in the bottom of his bottle.


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2 thoughts on “A Desire to Vanish – Polished Personal

  1. Dear Abhay,

    I found that this narrative piece worked very well as a personal response having read the poem that you are responding to. Your theme statement is succint and efficient, and it has all the working parts that are necessary and responds to the essay question quite well. This theme statement also does not detach from your writing, and it is very clear to see the themes of separation within your piece and your response to the question. In regards to the actual writing, it was well formatted and free of errors. Your sentence structure is varied, and the overall brevity with which you write fits the urgency and suspense of the piece very well. Oftentimes, we get caught up in forcing ourselves to continue to delve deeper and deeper into details that don’t matter, so it’s refreshing to see how relevant you kept this; I really think that your writing benefitted from the short paragraphs and constant movement.
    Your quotes from the poem that you used such as ‘it had no bottom’ worked well to really tie your response to the text, but I felt as though it was a bit saturated near the end and almost felt rushed. In the last three paragraphs, you used three direct quotes, and you used none in the first three, for example. I would remedy this by just taking out the last two, as I really don’t think that having this many was necessary because your piece already connected pretty well to the text.
    That said, this was a great piece to read and to learn from, and I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.



    1. Zaid,

      I liked how you really got into the mind of an ‘English marker’ and gave some really concise feedback for me, which I did consider when writing my diploma, so thank you. Even when looking back at this piece, I also feel that my quotations from the text did get a bit too saturated, which partly took away its significance. To end off, I just want to say that I’m grateful for having gotten the opportunity to work with you in AP as well as Creative Writing. Looking forward to seeing how much you grow in your grade 12 year.


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