Wednesday, March 04, 2009

86 The man who was wasn't there was here

The trees lost their leaves early that fall. I saw them falling when it was still hot enough to wear sleeveless tops. I noticed that the school age children had disappeared from the trams. I became aware of more traffic. People who could still afford vacations abroad coming back to jobs if they still had them. I had come back to the city after a long vacation of my own. However mine was far from voluntary. I had been elsewhere to attend to some old business. I was happy to be back but I did not yet feel I had arrived. For the first few weeks I had no obligations. I spent the first week alone at home. Reading. Cooking. Drinking. Sleeping. I had friends in the city but I did not call them. I felt the need to keep my own company. I stared at the ceiling in the sticky heat and let my mind evacuate. I had vivid dreams. Feet cut so deeply they did not just weep blood. They flowed. I decided these dreams told me to choose my steps carefully. I decided it meant that dangerous days were ahead. The day came that I finally woke and realized it was time to reconnect with the world. I made a few calls and made a few appointments. I met friends and listened to their summer stories. I gently deflected any questions they had about my time over the summer. I had no wish to burden them with my life. It was enough that I had lived through terrible things. I had no desire to reach back across time and exhume them. I had no desire to do anything but keep my mind and my body in one place. I had no desire to summon demons. My present was good and peaceful. It was all that mattered. My shirts were grey and red. I wore jeans exclusively. I never wore trousers. My hair was cut short again and my nails were clean and trimmed as they hadn't been in months. I felt lucky. I was over here. Some of us went over there and never wanted to be over here ever again. I felt lucky. I had gone over there and I hadn't wanted to go. I had wanted to be where I was. Where I am. I couldn't explain to my friends where I had gone or what I had been doing. It wouldn't be believed. Whenever my thoughts drifted there I remembered a snatch of dialogue from an antique movie of the future. I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. I could only hang on with a survivors grip to the miraculous words of banal existence my friends related to me and I ate them up like a dying man eats at hope. I pounced on every detail with joy. I found the most mundane elements of life rich and satisfying. Walking down the street today I kissed a beautiful stranger full on the mouth. I don't understand why I did that. I don't understand why she returned my kiss so fiercely. I decided later that sometimes there are moments and places and times where people are possessed. It must have been something like that. All I know is that for a moment all boundaries collapsed and when I returned to myself I was much further up the street and the girl had disappeared. Maybe she had never been there. I don't know. My life is a series of presents unpunctuated by past or future. Since I returned I am here now. Since I returned I realize I never left. Since I returned I realize I can never leave again. Except once. It's enough.

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