Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fall On Your Knees

One day soon, if someone asks me I'll say I was never here. I'll claim the last five years never happened, because they didn't. They never happened. These words don't exist, have never existed. Whatever words did exist you won't find here, no matter how hard you look.

I'm not assuming anybody's going to look hard.

If there had been that much time I'd feel something, wouldn't  I? Wouldn't I have some memory of something having happened? But I don't feel or remember anything other than things that happened way more than five years ago.

I know time is supposed to fly, but it doesn't. I'm not denying that there are indeed some things that fly, just that time isn't one of those things. So, no, I'm not one of those flight deniers. There are, though, plenty of things that I'm prepared to deny, and I don't give a rat's ass what anyone has to say about it. If I haven't seen it or can't remember it, it goes right in the 'denial' column.

I fall down. I've fallen down. That's something that I won't deny, but I'm also not prepared to admit it as any sort of proof that the last five years happened. Maybe I fall down in some other dimension. I don't know, to be honest with you, but I do know that I don't fall down in what some of you people will insist on calling the real world or "the here and now."

I'm not going to deny that hamburgers exist, because I ate one recently. Ate the living shit out of it, and almost felt some small sense of gratification simply because a hamburger isn't soup and soup is mostly what's served up in Limbo, if anything is served up at all.

I realize that by admitting to the hamburger business I'm opening the door for folks to say that the very "fact" that I recently ate the living shit out of a hamburger somehow proves that at least ten or fifteen minutes of the last five years actually happened. It doesn't prove that at all, and doesn't have a thing in the world to do with the last five years. Nothing does, because the last five years never happened. The hamburger, the soup, the occasional serving up of something --these things all take place (which isn't to say they happen) in what I call the astronaut creases, these floaty, slow motion interludes that are necessary to sustain a body that is living completely outside of time.

You notice that not a single one of these clocks is in working order? See? That's what I'm talking about. That's exactly what I'm talking about. For five years nothing has even attempted to tell time. Everything has given up. Everything has stepped away from the car and put its hands in the air. Everything is waiting. Everything has stopped and will soon be over.

I'll never have been here, and even if I had been here, I can for damn sure tell you that I wouldn't have been one of those people who thought he was here in any kind of a hotshot, make-a-difference sort of way. You can certainly try to claim otherwise, but you were never here either.

You know that phrase "here and gone"? It means something.

At any rate, happy holidays to those of you who persist in believing that you're living in some sort of precious present, even though you aren't. Please don't think I'm not sympathetic to your delusions, because I surely am.
I can remember how irresistible that whole notion can be, and those memories and flashbacks are never more acute than during the Christmas season, which before the last five years never happened I loved unconditionally. Even in the bleakest limbo there's still something about it I love and cherish.

I can, in fact, describe almost exactly what it is about Christmas that I love, and love unashamedly. I love it for all the things it can still make me feel and remember (those feelings, of course, don't in any way discount my claims that the last five years have not existed; they are feelings rooted in memories of a time before the last five years never happened). And those things are so deeply rooted that I can now say that only the last obliteration of consciousness can threaten them. They are so powerful that it is even conceivable that they will survive beyond time. In a sense, of course, they already have.

I am, in the words of some writer or another, a self-made lonely man. Yet the rituals of the season (which I still faithfully honor even in my hermitage) continue to provide pure, narcotic transport. All it takes is the warm glow of the lights on the Christmas tree and an endless loop of the holiday standards of my childhood and I can travel even further out of time than frankly seems possible, given how out of time I already am.

There's something melancholy about these experiences and memories, certainly; the feelings they inspire, it seems to me, meet an almost precise definition of "bittersweet." They hurt, these feelings, but there is happiness buried deep, deep within them, and I remain grateful to have access to such a powerful store of memories and feelings. They are probably best shared, of course, yet they are so intertwined with memories of shared moments that there is some loveliness in them even in isolation.

I was truly happy once, it occurs to me, and not just once, but on a great many occasions. I was happy and hopeful and possessed of a certainty that there were people to whom I belonged, and a place that fit any reasonable definition of home. This season played such an over-sized role in nurturing my dreams and my imagination; it inspired my love of stories and music and community and ritual. It cultivated wonder. Even now, living in the no-longer present, I am able to recognize that I was blessed to be born into a family, situation, and time that honored such things and made them possible. As a youngster it was regularly made apparent that this was a blessing, and that there were people all around me and all around the world who were not so fortunate as I was.  A proper appreciation of our blessings required that we see these people, recognize ourselves in them, and acknowledge them with at the very least the offering of compassion.

I am in limbo now, but I can still feel and remember all those old wondrous things, and can still recognize and acknowledge those less fortunate and offer what's left of my treading heart to them, and also to the old memories and rituals that once made me such a happy and dreaming boy. A boy with a present, and a future. A boy who hadn't yet fallen.

The world was better and more whole (holier?) once, I believe, before the last five years never happened, but perhaps, in truth, it is only I that was.


  1. Thank you for pouring your guts out - it has not gone unnoticed. This is an exceptionally sad and beautiful, and beautifully written, story.

  2. Who can see happiness as clearly as the unhappy?