Asterios Polyp, David Mazzucchelli
Pantheon, July 7, 2009
If you can spare some time, stop by.
I want to tell you something that I was thinking about on the way to … well, doesn’t matter where.
It’s about the rolling hills, the rolling hills that span the miles beyond road signs. That’s where dreams go to hide is what I think.
Al’s Oasis Exit 260
Motel Campground Pool
Along highways, byways, interstates and backroads, all that mass of nature—albeit breathtaking and bountiful—dissolves into a blur. Eyes hone in on their own trusty targets—motel-no tells, 24 hour egg plate diners, waitresses in short skirts, video arcades, cop cars, mile markers, vending machines, a check of the hours till sundown. On the way to Denver, a Poopsies sign triggers a giggle.
Far less easy to see is the trajectory of possibility that stretches well beyond the spectacular hills.
FROM THE VANTAGE OF TWO THOUSAND YEARS, THE SPAN BETWEEN 259 B.C. AND 210 B.C. MAY SEEM NEGLIGIBLE TO SOMEONE LIVING TODAY, BUT (Asterios could tell you better than I) EACH OF THOSE EIGHTEEN THOUSAND DAYS MUST HAVE BEEN AS PRECIOUS AND UNPREDICTABLE AS THIS ONE.
Like this. You might think that finding a Swiss Army Knife on the twentieth day of the seventh month of two thousand and something does not equate to a particularly earth-shattering event; yet, framed by context—inside one treasured day in the lives of two (and I know you can back me up on this one)—the knife is gold. It is an example of what can be found in any given moment lurking in the shadows of dull. Not even dull. In all the ordinary too. Everywhere. Anywhere.
Sure, some days are bigger than others. There are those immediately engraved into calendars and minds—like the night we met (7/30/2001), after a Roxy Music reunion show in Rosemont. But what about the thousands of other days that have come and gone, dancing into oblivion? There must have been plenty of good memories to pluck and tap from those days too.
There we are now in the Dodge. Driving up … oh, I don’t know where.
Remember our first Thanksgiving on Drake, all that food for just the two of us? And Jax still a puppy, not 6 months old?
TO LIVE (as I understand it) IS TO EXIST WITHIN A CONCEPTION OF TIME.
BUT TO REMEMBER IS TO VACATE THE VERY NOTION OF TIME.
EVERY MEMORY, NO MATTER HOW REMOTE ITS SUBJECT, TAKES PLACE “NOW,” AT THE MOMENT IT’S CALLED UP IN THE MIND.
Life is a timeline of memories.
THE MORE SOMETHING IS RECALLED,
It was the first time we put up that beautifully hideous silver West Elm Christmas tree, picked for its euro-kitchen proportions. There it is now, silver Christmas framed forever to sit on a dusty fireplace mantel. I remember something you said to me just before we took that very picture. Really, I do.
THE MORE THE BRAIN HAS A CHANCE TO REFINE THE ORIGINAL EXPERIENCE,
Never mind. It’s not. . . .
BECAUSE EVERY MEMORY IS A RE-CREATION, NOT A PLAYBACK.
Impossible, if you want to know the truth. I mean, really.
Obvious are the constants like Thanksgiving and Christmas and birthdays and weddings and anniversaries to plug into any equation, but happiness contains more than just the sum of the obvious. What is impossible to add into the total are the variables, things so unremarkable their imprints were missed entirely. Too bad really, I bet there was plenty good in that mix. In fact, I’m sure of it.
If you could spare some time, stop by. I’m looking for … I don’t know, if you could just fill me in on any of it that you remember. . . .