I made a couple of mistakes yesterday as I was waiting for the orange line:
I saw a man walking gingerly and beaming wide-eyed at something he was holding in his cupped hands. He was smiling and I thought, surely he’s found some robin’s eggs or rubies or something. So you can imagine my dismay at finding, when I leaned over to catch a glimpse of the small and precious treasure as he passed by, nothing but a smartphone Facebook feed.
I saw a bunch of stickers saying “sorry, out of order” slapped all askew on the door of the train and I thought, those kids, how did they get their hands on a stack of official CTA “sorry, out of order” stickers, and what fun it must have been to slap them all on this door here and run away laughing, and then the train and its truly non-functional doors left the stop.
When we were kids me and Wyatt spent long stretches of the summer digging enormous holes in the backyard behind the garage. We dug up big rocks which seemed to be the remains of dinosaurs. We played golf which was a game involving the hitting of small rocks with baseball bats. We played in the sun and the rain and the street. When my parents were gone we used our AOL account to try and chat with girls from California, which, we understood, was where all the best girls could be found. If we were feeling audacious we would pretend to be from California ourselves, cool teenagers from California. We were seven and eight. Once we tried to scan Jason’s senior picture to pretend we were him but we could not work the scanner. The computer had a game called Doom which allowed us to kill the devil and we killed him again and again. I don’t know why my parents bought the computer but there was some talk that it would make us all smarter, and that we would be able to use it to control the lights in our house. Neither came to pass.
We went into Jason’s room when he was gone, which was all the time in those days, and we played his Sega Genesis and listened to his CDs and got wild kicks out of the swear words. We loved the smell of the incense he used to hide the smell of the weed he smoked of which we were not aware. The machines were new and exciting and there were more to come into our lives. The central air. The big TV. The new garage was so much bigger it covered the dinosaur holes and most of the yard. But we were older by then and pragmatic about these meager losses, and occupied with other things besides.
“I don’t want you to feel like you have to own the room.” That’s agency talk for “you’re going to sit quietly in this insurance company office building and listen to somebody talk about spam emails for the next six hours.”
December, still! The time is passing slow and painful. A calculus scraping through the constrictor walls of this urethra of a universe. The string theory strings all pushing out the skin of spacetime like a great and saturnine cosmic delusion.
There are measures. Saying things out loud on account of nothing, for example, things such as “hooray” or “all right.” There are symptoms. For example, spending more than the usual zero seconds getting brain cog into notch that knows, has always known, that “poetry collection” isn’t pluralized “poetries collection” after the fashion of “attorneys general.” There are palliatives. Walking back and forth in a straight line, for example, one foot leading the other, forward, slowly, chin up and steady, eyes looking past all the worlds, holograms that they are.
Jess Sah Bi, it looks like you live in San Francisco and make video games now, but your voice is sweet and your old songs are a balm.