Thursday, February 12, 2009

If I Were A Painter I Would Paint This:

i stare out at the open psychotic abyss of the past.
i feel no fear, nothing inside me will allow me to tremble
i approach the guillotine stoically with a clear mind
every moment i have ever experienced before this is rolled out flat like an eternal pancake immeasurable and indistinguishable
the naked invisible casing and skeleton of this time
soon this moment's carcass too will fuse itself to that wall and become empty and hollow

for now i forget every face that ever stared back at me
they are as familiar to me as so many cloud formations that have floated overhead unnoticed, unspecial.

anywhere in the world i have been, i've found myself dreaming, doubted myself, fell in love, felt hatred, been wet and cold, and swam through the warmest waters, waving out to sea, stretching for the horizon that implies the ends of the world.

i am here ten years ago, but i am not. there is a different smell in the air, a different shade of light cast down by the sun. there are different voices, whinnying in a different timbre. the atmosphere is different. everything is eternally optimistic, but damnable. Passing by the local church, awe still fills me. Something sacred lingers. I feel lucky to be alive, at least I think that. I don't think i ever felt that. I was too young, but I knew that moment was special somehow. I'd walk those streets and breathe deep that heavy warm wet misty air and see the entire world out before me, ready for me to shape it to my will. I was ready to grow and seize every opportunity which would befall me. In comparison to that, now I am broken, hardened, still a dreamer, but my time is less. My zeal and excitement are tempered. I am fat with living, and yet have not lived enough. Where will i find room for the rest?

In this alternate past, I am on a rooftop drinking a red wine, with a woman in my arms. We make love, she pleasures me on that roof as the sun sets and we look down on the city. I feel the perfection of this moment. I feel we two are really shaping this moment in life to our satisfaction, letting go of everything else. I feel champion of the world, for a second.Here too, so many years later the sky is different, the colors of life are different, the bulidings, the air and the body that breathes it in through its nostrils and mouth. this new old body carries the weight. It carries the dream of a younger me, idealistic and pure, walking through empty streets in a land far east of here, when time was never my enemy, but still somehow solitude some times was. Time maybe first showed itself to be my terrible adversary when i was forced to leave that place. I knew then that the two years I had spent there would never be again, that those moments were frozen for me and I must remember them, because that was a capsule of my youth, my inimitable experience, my triumphs and failures, back when they didn't cost or win me so much.

Now i suppose things taste sweeter. the moments are shaped more to my liking. I am the one making the choices. Making the mistakes too. I can blame others less and less the older I get. I still sit alone in the dark in the wee hours of the morning. No one knows me now. I wait for the sun to make me his companion. Let him warm this little room up. I do not dream of riding on a beam of light, but i have dreamt about how when you put your flat closed-fingered palm up in the air covering the sun, it turns red and even as tightly as you can shut it, hundreds of little particles can be seen slipping through, reflecting off the light, and I wonder how I have caught the sun, mostly. I used to dream that when I was a kid. I haven't done that in years. The sun isn't up yet, but I think I'll dream it now anyway. The sun feels different to me now than when I was that age, trying to catch and stop the sun with my hands. Trying to hold a delicate yet breadthless warmth flatly on my hand, holding it back like a tiny brick in an everlasting wall of heat, balancing it against all other forces.

I yawn more now. I'm tired more now. I sleep different. Maybe more plagues my mind and I can't just rest through these thoughts anymore. Maybe more things are in me waiting to get out and now they know time is the enemy we must defeat.

I marvel at how one can look at a photograph and be transported back into that moment. I can see myself with this blue and red striped long sleeve shirt, baritone horn in hand. My parents both at my side, as proud as they ever might have looked. I remember that day, waiting for the concert to start. We all stood in line, we were going to play in the high school auditorium (we were in 6th or 7th grade). The kid in front of me played tuba, this Canadian kid. I remember him dropping his mouthpiece. It was a crisis. We stood outside waiting our turn, in the heat, for what seemed like hours. I remember now sitting on the stage, with my mouth poised, my lungs steady, eyes first on the sheet music, then out at the crowd. The lights reflecting off all the shiny brass of our instruments. I remembered the little excitement dwelling within me on this little special night in my little life, that I lived for a while on this little island in Southeast Asia, what should've been a completely alien place, but in a matter of years had become a new sort of home. The people I knew and loved and saw day after day, the streets, and buildings, the faces, the smells, the trees, the air, the things I knew most now were here. So now it was home. My family, the friends and people and things I knew for my first 8 years were somewhere else. But they were not as immediate as all this. As the sticky Singaporean heat that made one's glasses fog up when you walked out of the comfort of an air conditioned building.

So we played that concert and it went along smoothly, without incident. I remember my parents and my little brother outside waiting for me, their faces full of smiles. It felt like a family moment, one I will never forget, the sort of feeling we'll now never repeat. It was a moment, I feel sappy and cheesy to say, I felt pride. I don't even play anymore, it wasn't my choice to play baritone horn, and I wasnt that keen on the music we played. Hell, I wasnt even that good of a player. But I do remember feeling pride then. Looking back, I suppose I was justified in doing so. For even now, its one of the few actual accomplishments I've had in this life. I would've thought that by 26, I would've done so much more for myself, my life would've been figured out to a much greater degree. I would've assumed an adult "normality" , as it were. This is nothing like the way I assumed adulthood would be. Nothing. I imagined I would never spend a sunny, warm weekend at home alone. I would've been in a room full of friends, drinking beers, watching football and cracking jokes. I would never be bored, or confused, or alone. None of that is real. Maybe in the 80s that's what a 26 year old me would've lived. But in 2009, the world has changed, and things have happened to change me from the sort of guy who would be hanging out at a friend's place on Sunday, drinking beer, having fun, watching football, taking up my place in the American pastime of a 20something. Maybe i never was that sort. Maybe i was always an oddball destined to strike out on a different sort of path, and leave that quaint and happy, familiar early adulthood behind. I don't go to work all day and then go to softball practice and have games on the weekdays. I dont go to bars and talk to girls and make lots of small talk and have lots of friends. I don't know someone in every neighborhood I drive through. Not like the adults I knew when I was growing up here. Maybe because I wasnt allowed to really fully grow up here. Maybe because my home is spread across the globe a bit, or doesn't exist.

I had a flashback to another time a few minutes ago, but that moment is passed. I don't know whether to talk more about that familial feeling, the loss of an adulthood I'll never know, or making one's home in a different place for a moment at a time. These are themes I'll pick up again. I'll delve deeper into the places I've known as home for a while at a time. I'll think more about people I knew and things I remember. Riding a bike down this street and seeing this happen. Walking alone somewhere and what I was contemplating then. And how I contemplate it now. The way the sun feels at any given time in my life. It's so hard to imagine that it's always been the same sun, or has it? The sun, in its seemingly ageless enormity, still has aged along with me. And at every moment when I closed everything in me except my acknowledgment of the sun, wherever I was, at whatever age, that sun was different. As different as I was at each stage. Slightly different. It certainly meant something slightly different, but it's almost always meant something magical. I always hold onto that feeling of the sun in those special moments that I know I want to remember. I look all around me and say to myself that I want to remember how the light shone down on this place in this way at this moment. I tell myself I have to remember it. It's precious. the sun's light is always precious. No matter where you are, how old you are. Being alive is special. That's something often hard to really grasp, hard to remember.

being alive is special even when it sucks
when you're sick tired lonely and cold. when you're broke down and out lost or grief stricken. sad, angry, filled with rage, regret, felt betrayed, abandoned, unloved. still we are lucky, maybe especially in those times, consumed by the most terrible, forlorn feelings. feeling alienation, negation, nausea. This is what it means to be alive, to be human, to struggle and feel. feel anything, be it pain and these less than desirable states of being. it's all miraculous.

at this moment i want knowledge more than anything. I want to understand a thing, any thing completely. To know its secrets and hidden truth.

there's a pallid yellow light creeping up out of the horizon beneath a wall of pale blue clouds that encompasses the rest of the sky. if i were a painter i would paint this.

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