Where do we go from here? Sometimes everything seems so real. Like a heightened sense of reality. Like you’re connected to everything and everything revolves around you. I can touch and feel and taste everything. And then other times I disappear for a while. But I swear! I used to be part of that world! Then I went to sleep and woke up a stranger in a strange land. Am I less real now? Am I the one fading? Insubstantial. Incomprehensible? Or do we all come and go? The borders grow thin. We all slip between fantasy and reality. Who wants to be grounded anyway? I was grounded once. I was the most boring fucking person in existence. So I swan dived into the nearest rabbit hole and found myself on the other side of the world. This is not my life. Not anymore. And then at some point we all wake up. Come down from on high. Welcome back to reality. Rain check please. I’m gonna shut down. There’s nothing left for it. Check out. Leave my bags at the counter. Iced latte to go and if I don’t remember to come back, well it wasn’t worth it anyway. But where will you go? Where will you be? On a spaceship somewhere. Sailing over an empty sea.
Sleep until the sun goes down. Wishing my days away. Keep on wishing my days away. And she said to me to wait. Wait, and pretty soon everything will become clear. That’s how it always works. If we hold off long enough, suddenly everything comes right. That or it all goes hideously wrong. But at least it’s always one of the two. There’s some great impetus for doing nothing. Yeah… I’d really rather not though. Fine. Don’t. and then she looked at me, hand on the side of her face, you know that look. Head slightly cocked to one side, like she’s resting her head in her hand, fingers lightly tapping her temple. And she looked at me like that for a long moment.
‘You know, everything happens twice. But only once for a reason.’ Everything’s a repeat of what we heard yesterday, only this time it doesn’t make any sense. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe nothing ever makes sense the first time. It’s why we’re all consistently lost. Yeah, I thought I knew where I was going. I thought the map I had would get me there. I guess it’s outdated. How quickly things are outdated. I swear there used to be a street here. And on the corner, right there, just after the house with the green mailbox. Didn’t you grow up just around the corner? And we’d go down your backgarden and play in the creek bed. Following it all the way up to the park. Looking for old frisbees lost in the undergrowth. And when the rain finally came at the end of summer, we’d drag the raft upstream along the trail, and float back down through the rapids. It seemed so dangerous and exciting then! Setting out for adventure in our little stream. I went back there not long ago. I could hop across it almost all the way up. What happened to our rapids? To that vast and powerful river? How do things change so much? At least it feels like they changed. But I could have sworn it was this way… and then memory fails and we go plummeting into some unknown depths. Ever been here before? Only yesterday. If you get lost I’m not coming to find you. I don’t know the way.
There’s no stopping some people. Twice more she said, and then we can consider the truth. And if it rains first? Well then in the morning we can collect the raindrops. All the ones that linger anyway. Collect them all and bring them carefully back inside. Polish them off, one by one, and display them together, a vast canvas of raindrops. And we’ll title it ‘Last Night’s Rain,’ or something equally prosaic. Do you know what happens when you start imagining things like that? It’s quite possible they don’t become any more or less likely. Then again, it’s equally possible that they do. I always wager on it making a difference. Otherwise what’s the point of imagination? I don’t want it to just be an escape. Especially since I quite often don’t want to escape there. Surrealism is a dangerous place to go running off to. Boundaries grow thin on that side. Some things are less substantial, some more. And what kind of an idea is it to escape to somewhere and not be better off? Frying pan? Fire? Somebody explain the difference. I’ll take frying pan anyday. If I’m gonna be burned alive, I’d at least like to turn into a half decent omelette. None of this half-baked shit.
Maybe it’s that story. You know. The one that never happened. Or maybe it’s a combination of several that never happened. That works too. The best stories that never happened. All rolled into one pretty little parcel. In a sort of ‘this is how it was supposed to happen’ kind of way. Would that I knew how it was supposed to happen.
So we’ll spin it. Over coffee. At a show. The little things. The Take Away Concerts of life. Moments that, no, not moments, vignettes that create a complete picture. ‘This is how it was.’ All of it is a painting. Why should that be any different? Only a slightly less abstracted painting. Impressionist, rather than outright abstract. There’s a good way to look at it. The story is Impressionist, the modern vignettes are Dali-esque, and what else? Who knows? All of it abstracted somehow. I don’t have the comparison. Think someone with bright colours, an eye for detail, but turning the picture into what they want it to be, not necessarily what it was. An artist’s eye.
And here, our lives! Presented in glorious Technicolor. Just the way we would have wanted to see them.
Call it fleeting. Call it a moment that, in another life maybe, led to something.
You know, I thought of you once. It was a moment pretty much like this one. Quiet. During that mid-afternoon lull. When the world pauses for a few minutes and thinks about resetting. Take a break. We’ll come back to that.
And then she spoke the words, and everything changed. Wanna know how it happened? It was a whisper, that carried such a weight. And it’s such a weight to carry. Whispers always carry weight. That’s how we say the things worth saying. The things that we’re scared to say out loud. You can only speak reality in a whisper. It’s how we trick ourselves and get past the filters. I’m not really saying this out loud, I’m just thinking it. Do you believe me now? How about now? Silence. It’s the best answer.
Looking for patterns in the chaos. Trying to figure out where we go from here. Like playing an endless game of hide and seek. Tell me what you see, and every time it changes. Close your eyes, count to fifty, and everyone around you disappears. Thanks for the loyalty guys, but it’s all part of the game. They’ll be back. But the moment they return you lose. Somebody wins, somebody loses. Try and get out of that clause in life!
She told me she had a scar, a fleck on her porcelain skin.
I’m obsessed with beautiful moments. And beautiful things. I’m trying to stockpile them. Plaster the walls of my goldfish bowl with the imagery, so that every time I forget, I’ll swim around and see them again. It’s everywhere. The intro to a song that you heard once long ago, in a moment that made you incredible happy, and even though that particular moment has been lost to time, the feeling still lingers, transported by the notes of a song. Rain droplets coalescing and running rivulets across the window as you drive home in the evening. A child running ahead of its mother on the sidewalk. An elderly couple holding hands. The fern on a well-poured latte.
I think about seminal moments a lot. Those moments where you think, ‘Yes. This is what life is about. This is exactly where I want to be right now.’ And they’re not always the ones you’d think. Sure some of the seminal moments in my life include a view of the Himalayas at nighttime, or swimming next to a whale shark, or surfing at sunset. But they also include other moments. A joke told by a friend in a cafe. I don’t remember the joke, but the moment was perfect. Crying at the end of a book that really moved me. Watching the stars, without worrying what they mean.
And then making a wish on a falling star.
That was the sign. That was the writing on the wall that I chose not to read.
‘What do you believe in?’ she said to me. And I’m drawing a blank. Call me a realist. Call me boring. Call me pedantic. And yet, and yet. And yet I’m still a romantic. Logically, I look at everything and say, ‘there’s a rationale behind that. There’s a reason that’s the way it is. That’s not magic. That can be explained.’ And then I go off and secretly believe in fate. Or imagine I’ve seen a ghost. Or fall in love with everyone I see.
Everything’s pure right now. The air smells new. Call it autumn. Call it the post-evening glow. But everything’s clean. Made new. Cool, fresh air wafting in to me over the green belt. The night is still, the trees are still, but there’s still the faintest of breaths on my face. Washing me clean. Breathe in breathe out. Start again. Recycled air. But recycled and purified. Born again. And god but it feels good to be alive.