“…You see all the red flags early on in a relationship, but you’re so in denial, you think: ‘Red! Red is great! Red is the color of love!’ “
….to the old library in your home town. We will leaf through frail pages and trace the faded photographs of your ancestors with our fingers. We will sit down in a fort of books and journals pulled from the shelves and search through forgotten family trees and piece together untold stories. We will imagine what our lives would be like in those sepia tone years, how our days would be filled with work and fresh air, and our nights — with candlelight and barefooted siblings and freshly baked bread. We will find your namesake in a crumbling tome.
….to the bridge above the city on a moonless night. We will rise above the traffic and the taxis darting through the dark like so many fireflies among sleeping skyscrapers. We will watch the water of the river below us ripple and fall still in the breeze. We’ll look up at the stars and make up constellation names the way the ancients used to, connecting mythical beings to human fates born under their dim glow. We’ll write ourselves into the story of a star and float upwards, stretching our hands out until we touch the sky.
….to your windowsill, both of us breathless after a kiss so long and tight that all the air leaves our lungs. We will wrap ourselves in blankets and climb up into the window, nesting in that portal between the entirety of the world outside and your bed, still warm, where our shadows now stretch. We will share a cigarette from a pack your brother left behind, dangling our bare feet, our toes touching, unable to let go. We will feel innocent and young, like high schoolers drowning in new love, all the roads and possibilities still open, twinkling ahead of us and calling forth.
….to an island in the north, where fir trees and winds rule the landscape and the sea is onion-green and wild. We will come by boat and gather driftwood for a totem pole you want to build, and make a fire out of bark and pine cones. You will take the dog out for an early morning walk in the fog and come back hours later with a new song you wrote among the pines. I’ll make the coffee on a rusty stove and curl up on the porch, a ball of wool and fleece and notebooks on the mossy logs, writing a story that can only be told in a place like this, where the air is cold and filled with smoke and seaweed and your music drifting in the morning wind.
You put a spell on me. Not with your words, which self-destruct like coded spy notes. Not with promises made in a haze of smoke and ice cubes cracking in your whiskey, which melt away with morning fog at first sunlight. Not with your lips, which are greedy and selfish, which pull me in, your stubble scratching my skin and your tongue rough, like a cat’s. Not with your eyes, which pierce and enchant, then look away when my own rise to meet them. Not with your music, which randomly shuffles into my life, usurping the soundtrack of my moments, disrupting the equilibrium of my thoughts, beating along with the throbbing of old wounds, as if your pulse is the same as mine, our blood flowing as one.
But that night, as we walked through the city of a million strangers and a dozen friends, you took my hand and held it so gently, so surely, never letting it go. You held my hand and I floated over the cobblestones, higher and higher, in disbelief and enchantment, joining the blossoms soaring in the city’s winds.
And then the night was over, and the day came, and the next, and I’m still here, floating with the fallen flowers and the plastic bags and the stray feathers, lost and off-course, getting stuck on branches and lampposts before the wind gusts rip me off and carry me higher still, possessed by the memory of your hand holding mine.
Where are you now that I am so high above, spell-bound and cursed, no longer even human, not knowing how to bring you up to me or how to come back down?
Writing and deleting. Minimizing and re-opening programs. None of this is worth it. Neither you nor I. Just a spec of dust on a spec of dust on a spec of dust on the great open plains of the universe.
3,000 years from now, when the nuclear-enhanced cockroaches evolve into a highly civilized society, some rogue team of nuclear-enhanced roach archeologists is going to dig out a couple of badly erroded database servers labelled “WordPress” from one of the great ancient pre-nuclear-cockroach-era craters. They’ll spend some 20 years more figuring out how to decode the binary code into ancient English and that into Modern Nuclear-Enhanced Cockroachese. And then they’re going to collectively wonder what on earth we were thinking, recording utter drivel on those silly primitive discs. Especially on April 17th, 2015 of the pre-nuclear-cockroach-era, when our efforts could have been much better spent offline, preventing the inevitable extermination of the species and overall-type apocalypse. And then they’re going to have a good, hard, nuclear-enhanced laugh, and thank us for that nuclear part of the deal.
Just remember who you’re writing this for. It isn’t for us.
We’re skin and bones and arteries and nerve endings, and there are thousands of warehouses and digital archives scattered across the world filled with books written on why we behave how we do, and why we get hurt and how it’s all in our heads or our souls or in our nature as a species or in one or another god’s great plan for the universe, and they’re all wrong because there’s something else that’s deeper than souls and more intricate than nerve endings and chemical imbalances and heredity and childhood traumas that makes us need things, need others, write run-on sentences and long for what we cannot name or describe. We break without it and refuse to glue back.
But the thought that won’t leave today is that whatever clues could ever exist to questions about the origin of the Solar System, but even more so — of humanity and its infallible fragility, crashed and forever scattered into the Utah desert, among the shards of a 260 million dollar space capsule, which traveled almost one million miles to the place where the gravitational forces of the Earth and the Sun balance out and captured solar wind itself; a space capsule the parachute of which has simply failed to open.
Footprints on the pavement, dark shoe-shapes etched into a thin, fresh layer of 3 AM snow. Someone passed this way just now, barely before me. The tiny falling icicles haven’t even half-way covered the tracks.
Awake and alive in the cold of the night, I follow the trail. This was how we knew nature back then, back before prime-time TV or even before fancy Victorian drawing rooms, before urbanity and before books. There were trails to follow, fish to catch and herbs to pick.
This is how we learned – footprints, too small to be human, the snow just starting to cover the trail, a lone deer heading south. Footprints, human, but wearing strange foot coverings, running, just before me, following the deer trail – another tribe’s hunter out tonight. Footprints, light and small, in four rows, leading to the river, maybe women out to fish.
A door slams shut in a house up the street. The trail hadn’t lied.
I follow my own scent back home. I think, I could have made it. We all could. If the TVs and the drawing rooms and the street lights and the books disappeared, we’d remember what it was to watch for tracks and follow trails. We’d remember about hunting spirits and river wisdoms and how to build shelter in the woods. We’d remember to pray to the wind. We’d never again doubt ourselves and our made-up worlds and wonder whether Kant or Descartes or Nietzsche or Jesus were right.
We’ll rise, awaken, follow the trail. The stars hold enough answers; nature’s rules are as simple as life.