I wake up early and I two-factor on in. I make clean sure I’ve got the num lock stack-impacted because I like that keypad over the far right side. Reminds me of all the days I spent behind a desk back when I was young and when going to sleep at four and getting up at eight didn’t bother me even a little.
I remember worrying in those days about how uncomfortable it would feel for friends to visit me behind that desk; I wouldn’t know where to put them. I remember, too, putting my feet up in a booth in a fast food place nearby on a lunch break–this was visiting a friend and knowing where I could be put by her easy enough. Reading some novel or other at the time, too.
Every summer I remember other summers even more. And every fall I wash into replication. I wish all falls were the same and all summers lifted up exponentially. I’m happy to be the same degree of happy every time the leaves are turning if every time they’re in full effect I can lift myself a little bit higher, slicked by sweat to tripping. Sounds lovely and ideal.
In reality my greatest joy is almost always following me about two years back.
I was always snaking slow laps on downtown paths those days. A little way north and a little way east. That was me, the one with earbuds in, hands in pockets, slithering here and there, collecting steps. That would have been 30 minutes north and thirty minutes south if I was generous and ate while I walked. No snake but I talked like I wanted to be; it’s because it sounded to good and I was lashed.
And that’s it, isn’t it? I say “paths” when really I mean “path” when really I mean “I walked a single loop and hated to diverge from it appreciably,” when really I mean, “I wish I hadn’t always failed to wonder what was slipping past the edges.”
The world is so, so large and how much of it I’m not ever going to see even in my near field vicinity just shocks and appalls me every single Tuesday morning: that’s when I’m trapped at a desk for three hours and $12 per. When I’m free to move but moving not freely I never think about it; so long as I’m walking I’m under the illusion that the walking could venture any which way and still matter.
I’m now in the present tense and over on Market Street thinking about all the stuff that goes up that we don’t see going up. Like buildings and like those memorials for car wreck deaths on the side of the road. On a road trip once I saw a hunkered family hammering a white cross on the freeway and I knew they’d lost one of them very recently and that I was one of less than 30 people on the outside to see what I was seing. The driver with me didn’t even see it; she was watching yellow lines and tail lights. I thought about how sad it was, but it felt fake to think that way for very long, so I left it billow off into memory. They were feeling something so real and we were going 80 miles per hour in a 60 zone and didn’t get pulled over even once for the whole 400 miles we went.
Anyway, in present times again, I waltz around the corner, forgetting that family’s last name that I never knew, and I eye the packs of short haired jacks wearing their loose khaki slacks. Their polos are tucked deep into, I guess, their silk underwear. That’s what I’m guessing. It’s great fun to guess across divides, to crack jokes. These jokers suck on lunch break cigs and I wonder how much smoke those fabric folds can hold. I’m playing here, but I don’t know any of them and I never will. They’re above my paygrade in a literal sense and we can all feel it.
“A trip to the tropics might be just the thing.” I overhear that on my way back. Who talks like that these days? “Just the thing.” For what?
And a trip to the tropics. Don’t they know how soon those tropic’ll be under water anyway? Guess that’s why it’s just the thing again; soon enough it’ll be no one’s thing anymore. Hard to think about for very long. Hard not to think about in lots of short bursts.
I had a dream last night that someone nuked New York City. I was in a Midwestern basement and everyone was scared but acting normal; the jitter of every heart venting through a filter, I guess. That’s dream logic. They were all acting like their fright could be settled back into regular every day activity. “I’m scared of heights. I’m scared of snakes. I’m scared of becoming dust.” Not like the world had totally changed. “I’m scared of whatever alien race is out in the ionosphere waiting to erase us all from memory. I’m scared that the green sliver I saw through my bedroom window when I was eight wasn’t just a shadow or a tree but something.” But all the rest of it’s going 80 in a 60 and won’t get pulled over, not for ten thousand miles.
In that dream, I got a text from some social media magnate letting me know my friend Elisabeth had checked in as “Safe” in New York somewhere. “I didn’t even know Elisabeth had moved to New York,” I thought. And who was Elisabeth now that I’m awake and I’ve two-factored in and I’m out and about and walking past jokers whose year-end bonus exceeds my annual take home? In my dream I felt sad at how good I had gotten at letting people slip away and I cried a little before I realized I was doing the same thing as everyone else in my dream. Why cry for an invented Elisabeth when there’s whole scores of dust piles out on the East coast?
I come round the corner and the streets go haywire. Crystal clear cutlery clutters the gutters. Some lunk dropped a box of the well-bought plastic stuff on his way to a wedding reception and I’m the only one around to say sorry for it. So I’m sorry. I wish the married couple luck though I’ll never meet them. I’ve got nothing to do with what they’re going to do even minutes after “yes” or “I do” or whatever they chose to say but I just want them to be loved and happy. Even though I had nothing to do with the cutlery spill, I’m sorry. Sorry from my sockets to yours; sorry to make you watch me act this way.