I live in a large complex, three towers in all, connected by a sprawling underground mall, and so I wasn’t as concerned as I should have been when they shut it all down. I explained to the security team that I lived in the left tower and there was no need to impede the flow because this was where we all lived. They said that they found the idea ironic and used force when I tried to cross again.
My students thought this was all very funny and sent the dumbest one up to my room who decided to lick my face as a joke. The fact that he was infected made it funnier for everyone. They had already planned a tour of the neighborhood with the sole purpose of spreading their germs. They thought that was ironic. They insisted on saying that even after I showed them what the word actually meant.
I remember the passage out back. It was a secret thing. And that it is what made it marvelous. I remember being there with you. And that makes me sad. That is why I can’t sleep like I remember I did. I wish it were not like that, but I rip everything up, and I think I can answer for that.
That’s easily one of the dumbest things I’ve ever written. Or maybe this is it. Probably. A close second anyway.
The exploding virus came to my town and I didn’t know what to do. People were scared. It was something that they didn’t know. And that was it. There was nothing else but that.
It was a dance called the virus. We were on the sidelinelines and than we were in it. It was a terrible thing but it was us. We weren’t okay. And then it was something else. And, later, we talked about how we would remember all of this.
I just remembered something. I was talking with you. Maybe it wasn’t you. She looked like you. She had a pain in her breast. And I related to that. It was a pain and she spoke about that. That pain. I don’t have that pain in me. And I said my thing. I probably said it too loud. I was empathizing but it sounded like emphasizing. And that was it. The pain in her breast. And I wanted to keep talking and I probably did but I should not have. I did not leave it. So here we are.
Here is the thing. Not the environment. No winter. I woke up today and I thought about my dream like it was real. And I am sure you do that too. But it’s over. Simple. Not a hard thing to think about. Simple. And here.
I can write and write and write. Novels about kidnapping prostitutes, native spirits, 9/11, even abandoning Earth. I can write a trilogy about that. I can write screenplays about high school angst, tree-planting and searching for that impossible love. I can write a lot about that. I can blog 1,200 times about writing all of that – and plenty of other things too, like New York and movies and dead things I find.
I can send letters and emails to agent after agent. I can go to conferences about writing and seminars about cover letters. I can go to a lot of those. I can write the agents again, using those new-found skills. I can do that for 35 years. And I can (and did) receive over 450 rejection emails and letters. I can be ignored too. I can write them back again.
I can do all of that, and yet I can’t get one person, not one, to publish my work, let alone represent it. I should write a book about that.
Suddenly he gave a start; a certain thought from yesterday raced through his head again. But he started not because this thought raced through his head. Indeed he knew, he had anticipated that it would certainly ‘race through his head’, and was already expecting it; and it was not yesterday’s thought at all. But the difference was that a month ago, and even yesterday, it was only a dream, whereas now, now it suddenly appeared not as a dream, but in some new, menacing, and quite unfamiliar form, and he suddenly became aware of it himself. It hit him in the head, and everything went dark before his eyes. (45)
It was a feverish condition with moments of delirium and semi-awareness. Afterwards he remembered a good deal. Once it seemed to him that a good many people were gathered around him and wanted to take him and carry him away somewhere, and there was much arguing and quarreling about him. Then suddenly he was alone in the room, everyone was gone, they were afraid of him, and only opened the door a crack from time to time to look at him, threaten him, arrange something among themselves, laugh and tease him. At times it seemed to him that he had been lying there for at least a month, at other times that was still the same day. (117)
Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment
Here is a place I know. It is easy. I know where I am. I am here. I am afraid of it. I dream of living in this. It isn’t a thing that is anything else. It is the thing, all of itself. And I am here. Lucky me. There is a sound. It is quiet and not. Oh, an abstract thing. No. It is tiny and whole. It is physics. It is a big thing. It is the everything thing. But don’t say that. Too many steps back.
It is that thing in you, that thing you hold too tight, little too much of you that you don’t want to let out, that you might say no to, that you might think that is too much and is everything. And that is the thing, tiny as it might be that is everything. It wakes you and makes you remember.
It was a while back and I was different then. But I wasn’t. You weren’t. We were there. And we remember. And that is the curse. It is love. Or memory.