July 25th, 2007
There are times when you go through life for awhile in a daze and you don’t realize that you’re just moving day to day in a trance until you stop for a moment and think, hey, I forgot that I was alive, and you notice how comatose you had been going to class, going to work, going home, staying up until five in the morning and catching a few of hours sleep before doing it all again. Why do we live like that? That’s what the spring was like in a nutshell.
But now it’s summer, and for the last six weeks, I’ve been alive. For the first time I’ve really been awake. And maybe that happens every summer and you forget. But ever since the first day we went looking for apartments something started clicking, the air was different. The fog was lifting. And then we moved. And it was like that feeling when you’ve been sleeping outside in a tent and the cold morning air hits your face, and wakes you, bursting in from the screen on the wall, and you hear the birds chirping and the wind rustling the trees and the light kind of sparkles in your eyes, you know that feeling? Maybe you don’t. But in a word, I would say crisp. But no, you need more than one word. Because it’s not just crisp, and it’s not just clear, and it’s not just cold, its a good cold, that fall cold, like when you were five and you were starting your first year of kindergarten and you went school shopping and you bought crayons and folders and were excited about Lisa frank stickers and your first backpack that was neon colors, because neon colors were all the rage, and you were a little scared, but a little excited, and in the fall the leaves crunch, and the grass still smells fresh, and you carve pumpkins and ride the bus. So that was how I felt when I woke up that first morning in my new bed, before I knew I lived in the room that my friend Kennen remembered, because he dated the girl who sold me her furniture, who moved to New York, so it was really her bed, but I suppose now it’s mine. My kitten was asleep in my arms- maybe because she can feel that I sincerely love her, or maybe because I was warm and my room was cold because we live on the first floor apartment and have the only thermostat in the building and the third floor gets balmy in the summer.
There is an amazing vibe you get from our apartment, maybe because of the dark wood detailing, or the thick, mirrored buffet that stares back through the dining room and opens up embracing the family room. The ceilings have hand painted patterns, and the kitchen feels cozy and warm and is eclectic with knick knacks from Grandma and Mom and Donna and relatives or friends of relatives. We keep the blue pot on the stove because it gives the feeling that someone is about to cook, there is a tiny hammock in the backyard and turtle stepping stones that narrate the path in the front yard and all the way to the wooded archway beside the garage. Maybe 100 years ago, the garage used to hold horses and still has the rungs to tie them to, which then turned into an auto-mechanic shop, and now holds four cars, one for each apartment, except that instead of a car we park our bikes. But next to that garage there is a wooden archway. You see, the archway is pretty to look at, but the door sticks and scrapes along the bottom when you open it to use the garbage or dispose of the recycling in one of the five proper bins. And why would you need to lock it when you could walk around the left side of the garage? Maybe it’s just because it looks pretty. It has vines and flowers hanging from it, though I can’t remember right now if they are real or fake. My mother loves fake flowers.
The funny thing about the archway is that no one knows what it is called. Every guest we’ve ever had at our apartment that has seen the archway cannot think of what the word is. There’s a word. Really, there’s a word for those and it’s not veranda, it’s not terrace, it’s not gazebo, it’s not gate. I got a message from my friend Amir with the words, “garden arbor?” the other day and I was very confused until he explained that maybe that is the word, but it’s not. But I will let you know if I come across it.
A funny thing about words is, every time you learn a new one you suddenly you hear it about four times that same week, and all of a sudden it seems that everyone is starting to use that word, or has been using the word and maybe you never noticed. It’s interesting because maybe we just skim over things we don’t know, or don’t notice until we are ready to learn them. What if life is like that? Maybe there are things we don’t even realize are out there because we are unaware of their meaning.
The fourth of July was not too long ago. Natalie had boughten $200 worth of fireworks. Her family and friends lined the deck, sitting beneath the best three hour fireworks display we had ever seen. Amy and John and I were at her house, which was on a lake, with neighbors that had little kids that later beat us in the best wiffle ball game I had ever played, and they were the most genuine people.
After we got back, I went to see Haynes. We were on the bridge to the west of Hennepin Avenue. They were the second best fireworks I’d ever seen. I could not lift my jaw. I almost thought it was stuck like that, even though there were bits of firework cartridges raining down on us, which I found in my hair the next day. That night went on to one of the best Karaoke bars I’d ever sang at, probably because the crowd was one of the best crowds I’d ever been in, we belted out Total Eclipse of the Heart, Frank Sinatra, and Bon Jovi. And I love that John and Justin are photographers and that Justin carries his survival kit wherever he goes. He got a picture of all of us looking as excited as we’ve ever looked holding shots of whisky with ten girls who were throwing a bachelorette party. The night continued its ridiculous course as we finished off a bottle of whisky. The next morning we told stories for hours. We left to get pancakes at noon and the neighbors were outside. We laughed because everything made sense.
Have you ever thought about how much you enjoy the sound of book pages? Paperback, hardbound, coffee table, textbook, bible, every kind. There’s something about it that tingles in my ears. Maybe it’s the mystery of all the knowledge that falls between the covers. Or maybe it’s just the crinkling and the flipping. When I was growing up I used to love listening to adults talk. Especially grown men, the ones you’d see on TV giving political speeches. It wasn’t in the words necessarily, but in the pauses and the vowels. It was partly the echo-ey vibration in the back of their throught and partly the sounds of the s’s and t’s as they came together. I would just sit and listen. You can hear it if you want to. Listen for s’s, pauses and vowels sometime when you’re sitting in an office, at a restaurant, waiting for the bus, or watching TV. You’ll hear it. Or maybe you won’t. What a strange thing to remember.
So I’ve been noticing alot of people that are stuck in the daze of life. Most of them do not even realize it, it just keeps them moving. In that daze they don’t need to think, and they don’t need to know what the shadows really are. And their body goes into autopilot, and they are lucky that their brain takes care of things like breathing, and keeps their heart beating, and their blood flowing and lets them see in color. And they move through life and they make the sounds of s’s and t’s and they forget about the light and the wind and they don’t notice the fireworks anymore and they forget what hobbies are and they probably won’t remember until they retire and they remember what life is, or maybe they won’t ever retire, maybe their wife will die and maybe they will die, and then maybe they’ll notice, when they are watching their life, when there is no wind, and when there are no knick knacks, and maybe there’s nothing and they become part of the nothing, but maybe that nothing is everything, and maybe they won’t know anymore what it is like to notice nothing because they will be one with everything and they will be aware of it all at the same time, and they’ll realize that they were God and are God and have been a part of everyone they’ve ever known, all along, and then they will care, or maybe they won’t, maybe they just are, and then they’ll get it. Maybe there is no time, maybe you can be in any time, maybe time happens all at once, maybe consciousness is like lucid dreaming, maybe we create linear motion, or maybe everything is static, or maybe it’s not, maybe all the answers are in the trees, in nature, and in the water, and in the air. Because we didn’t make the leaves. And there are patterns in nature like there are patterns in life and there are patterns in the seasons and maybe there are no coincidences. And maybe everything happens for a reason, and maybe everything is random, and maybe every decision we make starts a separate path from that point, moving in separate directions at the same time. Maybe there’s a million worlds and a million paths and maybe there’s a million different you’s out there all at the same moment but you are only conscious of this you, but when you get done with it all, you’ll remember all the others like how when you’re dreaming you are in a separate reality but you wake up and everything comes back to you. Or maybe there aren’t. And maybe when you die it’s just like this, but somewhere else. I hope everyone thinks about that once in awhile.
One of my favorite movies and books is Contact. In the movie there is a part where Ellie asks her dad, “Dad, do you think there’s people on other planets?” And he pauses, and says, “I don’t know, Sparks. But I guess I’d say if it is just us… seems like an awful waste of space.”
Thoughts don’t necessarily occur in order, like life. It merely exists in clumps of tangents that stream from today back to 1986, to Plato and the beginning of time, to the end of it, and to arguments of times existence and to the darkness between the fireflies, or the amazement in a seed that could grow into a redwood forest, somehow we’ll get there, everything comes full circle.