“It is quite true what Philosophy says: that Life must be understood backwards. But that makes one forget the other saying: that it must be lived – forwards. The more one ponders this, the more it comes to mean that life in the temporal existence never becomes quite intelligible, precisely because at no moment can I find complete quiet to take the backward-looking position.” – The Diary of Soren Kierkegaard
“We delight in our sensuous involvement with the materials of language, we long to join words to the world – to close the gap between ourselves and things – and we suffer from doubt and anxiety because of our inability to do so.” Lyn Hejinian
It occurs to her in this space, in these particular white walls (only in the bedroom did a smell briefly hearken her back to her past; she did not pursue it), in this, present – (though it isn’t anything like that – i.e. static, rather like a conveyance it keeps moving) is a vastness, though a rather awkward gift it is since it is hard to put to any good use. She thinks it could be pleasant to play You Belong To Me by Patsy Cline on a phonograph but she has neither record nor device so there’s little point in that. How to describe it? A ribbon of butter churning in a fairy tale in which she keeps lifting her face up from the masher or grinder or pulverizer, her task to count the granules, to turn the quernstone, to harness the powderiness, to order the pebbles. Right now the best her story can offer is the company of the baba yaga hag; the trolls always hide their spoils behind the wood shed. Of course, in reality she is not lifting a finger, nor is she dropping crumbs to awaiting mice; it’s just that it’s something to fill the void with, the idea of the scraggly heroine in raggy shawls. And her benefactors and tormentors (like baba yaga one and the same), they are threads leading in all directions. If she only knew how the story unravels.
I bought the book because I was in love with you. But now I cannot read the book because I do not know if I am still in love with you, or if it still makes sense to go on as if I am in love with you. So the book remains a captive on my shelf, for the time being hostage to my confounding and ever-changing sense of things both real and imaginary.
1. That time when we were talking about rejection and you said you had been dumped so many times that you had grown immune to the experience, I regret not mentioning that you were the only person to ever break my heart.
2. Tonight, when I ran into my playwriting idol at an reading and we gawked at each other like long lost friends, I regret not asking her how she wrote and performed that first piece when she was a nobody back in the day which haunts me still.
3. At the aforementioned event, after reading from her collection of dance reviews/poetry/ephemera, when the author asked which non-linear bits stuck with us, I regret not saying the bit about the reviewer not being allowed to drink wine before the show because it is funny and because laughter is a good way to salve the wounds that arise from appraising the situation and finding myself falling short.
A rent in the fabric of her serenity, luminous like the lake she drove past, surprised by its brightness on such a grey day, occurred at the estate sale where she went to collect a stove. She was standing in the nearly empty garage, surveying the wreckage, when a young man said to his companion, do you have a projector? From behind a rusting golf caddy he procured an aqua canister, the width of opened arms. Before her eyes, the man then conjured three aqua legs – a tripod! she said to herself, entranced – balanced the canister on it, flipped the thing 360 degrees, and unfurled a silver movie screen to the delight of his companion. The woman there to collect the stove stood, a witness to the event, dumbstruck by her sudden and desperate need to have this shiny object. The thought weighed on her that had she been in the room at the time of the couple’s discovery, that it could have been her to see it first, except that until that moment she did not know what she was lacking. It perplexed her to assemble the pieces of her desire; the tripod was mechanical, and therefore linked with her scientific father; the aqua-tinted metal stood for her murky, melancholic, water-loving childhood; and the screen itself, generous, a reflector of light like the lake she had just observed. And here it was, before her, but not to be hers. Such is life! She knew there was no changing the outcome, the couple would take the screen, at a bargain price, and she would collect her stove and pine for the unattainable, and thus, perfect item.
She drove home, the gnawing inside her now accompanied by the rattling of the stove in back. She put on the most cymbal-laden CD in her glove compartment and resigned herself to the crashing. She thought of how it had come to be that she was driving around picking up stoves on a Sunday when previously she had been practicing with a band. The dissolution of the band had not been her decision; it struck her now that the others had been laboring under the premise that the band was her brainchild. The band might have been preserved if members had determined that the band was their idea as well. It’s strange, she pondered, how switching one’s perception the slightest can shift things for good. When the option came up, she turned off the main road, and found a side road chock full of bumps and curves. The music caterwauling, and the stove clattering such that she thought it might collapse into a pile of rubble by the time she reached home, she followed the arc of the lake, imagining the banging metal as her rage, boiling unseen beneath her smooth, mirror-like surface.
It boils down to caring. It bothers her to think she is caring less about certain things she used to care more about. Yes, she is certain, there are things she is moving away from, and other things she is moving towards, in terms of caring, although the exact perimeters of those things she is unclear of. It strikes her that there are many things in life which she once cared an awful lot about, but now hardly considers outside of times like this, when a feeling of regret makes her contemplate her lack of caring and a caring is reborn in her. At other times a random thought or news item can infuse her with a new caring. At such moments she sees the ease in it; the minutiae of her caring are like waves in an ocean conveying her. Still she worries about the particulars of her caring, and whether or not she is caring or not caring and in the optimal proportions.
It was just what she found herself going for, a nebulous sort of thing, more of a feeling than anything. Yet she slipped into it, a kind of mood, a melancholia, even, yes; only it felt like finding herself, or falling into a familiar room. Like a tune she plucked out on the piano, a simple melody, 3 or 4 chords tops, just playing them over and over again. It certainly wasn’t brilliant by any stretch of the imagination, but it wasn’t brilliance she was after, no, more of an itch she felt like scratching by means of those 4 chords. An itch was a sadness. It wasn’t the stack of paperwork she brought home for the evening, no, that was just ghastly, she’d rather die then resign herself to cracking that pile of crap when she had a burning itch there reminding her of her longing. That’s where her loyalties lay, why she didn’t show the troubled parts of herself the door; she found comfort in her state of uncertainty.
Prospect St. Seattle, 1984. Girl-child leaning on a pole marked Prospect. Languid like the curve of the cornerstone. Eyes downturned, passions curbed for the time being. Loneliness leaving pock-marks on the present and the future firmament. Meeting glamour with hands in pockets. At some point there will be a sense of deja vu; this thing that I am doing I surely attempted before. Is it a boon that I cannot remember my failures?
The very act of searching for the exact date on which her husband declared his infidelity one year ago, proves the adage that time heals.
I can see art on the wall of my new day-bed nook. Something neither small nor large, a medium-sized piece, although I don’t know whether it would be portraiture, or a landscape, or something realistic like a photograph. I also don’t know if I envision it framed or not, hanging from a nail or taped up.
Before I can decide what to procure for my viewing pleasure, I must paint the wall, whose present shade of green is decidedly sinister, not the warm luster which would best set off a work of art.
There is a lot to consider.
And while I’m cataloging desires, let me put down that since childhood I’ve hankered after a certain bed-prop/cushion/pillow which allows one to be fully functional while reclining. The house where I spotted this device was occupied by intellectuals who kept the complete works of L. Frank Baum on hand. I always thought that being able to comfortably read in bed would open many doors for me but at the same time I did not dare to mention this nor bare this request until now.
She couldn’t seem to break into their inner sanctum so she vowed that she would wow them by doing just what they did, only with so much style and precision, they would feel ashamed they hadn’t noticed her before and would act quickly to rectify the situation.