Secret Pop

Feb 24, 2005

Like a bird without a song

I'm wasting a godawful amount of time. But I think fear is -- as always -- at the center of it. Fear and the nagging assurance that I am not going to ever amount to what I had hoped I might. I sometimes feel as if I string the years together with widely-spaced hooks and hang patiently on the tendrils that connect them until it's time to swing ahead. Will I look back on these years and only remember the Christmases and the Comic-Cons? Will I learn the lesson that nothing I have ever wanted has continued to be what I want for very long? Will I look in my closet and count the many articles of clothing I can't believe I bought and finally conclude that my whims can't be trusted?

There are whole spans of my interior life that have gone from me. There are weeks I have forgotten. Even when I see the words scribbled in my journals, I can't make them out. I can't remember what they meant or why I wrote them. I can't keep track. That's what seems to happen when the lists get too long. When you know too many people or learn too many numbers. When it takes you too long to get to the movies to see the films you should. Progress displaces everything. No moment is immovable. This is my chief hang-up with George Pal's The Time Machine. The idea that that machine could occupy that same space for tens of thousands of years. No space lasts for that long. Eventually, something comes to crowd it in. Crush it. Collapse it. Repurpose it. But you still go back to towns you once lived in and expect to see your old house intact.

My friend Geoffrey was visiting for a few days. We went to high school together in Japan, and we have kept in touch -- largely at a distance -- for the ensuing years. And, while the things that made us friends when we were awkward teenagers with no real stories to tell may not persist, fortunately the things we have shared since then do. I don't think all childhood friendships can bridge the chasm into the jaded afterlife of adulthood. But with Geoffrey and me, it's always like sitting on a bench with someone you adore and sharing one coat. You squeeze together so that you can each fit between the constructed shoulders, and you each hold one lapel in close. And somehow you manage to keep the cold out. And even the shivering is welcome. It always turns to laughter. Giddy, giggling laughter.

We spent some time with Beulah and Justin. Braved the spurts of torrent to eat at Hurry Curry and buy amusing food at Nijiya Market. We went to breakfast in places that were popular with firemen and cops. We went to see some comedy at M Bar. We did not see Jolie Holland or the Devotchkas, but we didn't miss them either. And we didn't have nearly enough time.

If I could live in a swimming pool, I might.

Free as a bird

I don't dip into my history as much as I used to. I don't really find surprises there. And I have outgrown much of the child's desire to keep rehearsing the same experiences over and over. What is new might end up being disappointing. But what is old and past is static. And though it might be pleasing, it can never be anything different. I'm not quoting Dead or Alive when I say I want surprises. Believe it.

Every now and then -- and sometimes for days at a time -- I live in the absence of gravity. Maybe it's all in my head. But when it happens, I feel like I am somersaulting through space in that slow, syrupy way that things do without the aid and friction of an atmosphere. My hair gets in my face, but I'm smiling.

Too young for some. Too old for others. Too Mary for my own good much of the time. I'm fine with it.

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