I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I think I am. I think therefore I am? I remember them.
Memory meets language at the intersection of our constructed present.
I walk home tonight through a similar intersection. One eye steady to the ground as I step over it. It must of happened here on the corner of Shafter and Forrest. On the damp concrete sidewalk, against that bush, under those windows. Used and discarded, it still sits in its quiet magnificence. The mechanics of life wrapped in a cloud of death next to a few leaves and some old gum.
Recreation, reclamation, regurgitation, repentance, redemption, resurrection.
I pass through the same intersection a day later, lift my foot to step over it. This time it must have happened somewhere on this block within this past week; definitely this month. Tomorrow it never happened at all.
TO DUSTY / TOO DUSTY
The partitions of the mind keep everything in line. The line your toes touch and tempt — no — beg to cross. The day you cross it is the day you walk through that door.
Room one serves as the waiting room. The air hangs thick with the anticipation of convention, but in the meantime it’s storage. Pedestals, florescent lights, fixtures, temporary remnants all sit atop the Ikea sofa and glass coffee table bought on a clear day. All transition, really.
Room two’s kinetic energy pounds. Three giant windows bring light in and brush against the power tools fresh with heat and saw dust. Here houses the mind and body, trapping the gears that make the whole thing stand on two legs.
To your left you feel a chaotic breeze. Room Three. Step into the back corner of this warehouse. Smell the sealed air of 1998 and look down. Notice the toe of your shoe hit the heel of a bloody sock. Look up and gaze at the sea of empty chip bags and a thousand empty coke cans. See the dipped imprint of a body on the bed. This is a bay window into an unexamined life. A life of all work and no play, of two microwaved hot dogs with a side of orange peanut butter crackers for lunch.
Here you are confronted with your own bland conformity, your own brand of disgust, your own death, your own faith.
I only knew two things.
1. She had a collection of black velvet Jesus paintings.
2. And a lazy eye.
The discovery seemed to happen over night and suddenly my family of strangers converged to take care of business. I stood across the street from the house as I watched everyone enter. Their gasps were audible and I thought about her own gasps at the sight of this invasion. If home is an extension of the mind, maybe this was best let be.
But no. There is work to be done; repairs to be made, items to be sorted, walls painted, cracks filled. Money made.
Typical of any northeastern mining town there is a gradating layer of soot clinging to the edges of the white siding. The boxy frame cowers away from the street requesting you divert your gaze elsewhere. Stewing modesty.
The front door is the mouth of a tunnel carved between stacks of magazines, newspapers and garbage hovering from years of accumulation. It takes you from the front door, through the living room, and into the kitchen. From here you can go left to the pantry or right to the garage. I soak it all in. This is how she woke up every day. Did this cacophony of objects soothe her? Did the box of rubber gloves purchased sometime during the Kennedy administration make time stand still for her?
Each opened bag or dark corner reveal another twist, another dark deviation from reality. A reality I would kindly deviate from as well.
Social security checks cashed and subsequently hidden. The same jacket in every color. Silver and gold versions of the same jewelry sets. Tags on everything. The judgments come in whispers and wide eyed, high browed glances as we pass. Each elevation of the brow communicating messages only those of distant relation can translate. I am in the middle of one of these looks when I notice my mother. I am both amazed and repulsed as I watch her sit in the middle of the floor while her fingers swim through costume jewelry and a pile of cash. The woman who cleaned my blinds every morning is finally taking in a moment. And this moment is not without it’s judgements, I see her brow furrow with concern as she attempts to reason all of this through a distraught revelation. She looks at me with a panicked eye. Suddenly we are 0 for 4 and she realizes the fragility of my future through these patterns of which she has no control.
I reach to grab the box of rubber gloves. They disintegrate in my hands, the black soot now covering me finger tip to elbow.
Ashes to ashes, right?
Instructions for constructing an emotional attachment:
Step One: Time here must be considered linearly. Any suggestion otherwise will prove fruitless. How will you look back?
Step Two: Be aware of heightened reactions to certain moments and objects. This can include goosebumps, sweaty palms, widened eyes, heart sinkage, stomach flying.
Step Three: Take an image. If you trust your instincts and your senses, feel free to use your eyes and file away a mental image. If not then use a camera.
Step Four: Edit out the unnecessary information. Be aware of the tangental and ephemeral.
Step Five: If not reminded of the moment by external forces, make sure to refer to the image at least twice a year for preservation. Allow your palms to sweat, eyes widen, heart pound all over again.
Step Six: Proceed to reference this moment periodically through metaphor.
The tiniest little imperialists they ever did see.
Red lips on a baby face. Women touch the blonde head for a spit of good luck.
Pink slushy down a long straw, the taste of dull sugar from the cane. A small scoop at the end; such a clever design.
Jelly candies and chocolate koala bears.
Wooden sandals cluck the pavement.
Play hard in the warm rain against crashing waves, seriously.
Border the glass windows with towels as the typhoon pounds against the tiny sanction.
Throw sand. Heave sea urchins.
Shoes off at the door.
The structuralists began here.
A maze of fabric dowels and a room full of pillows against a field of cane.
Here the future looks like spaghetti with butter and a long, coiled, phone cord. Wrap it through your fingers, you tiny imperialist, as you eat your evening dinner and they have their morning toast.