In my dreams it was always in motion;

It would be prettier that way,

In the backseat of your car.

To die while hugging an elegant curve, bending with the light around the trees.

No one able to place flowers at the side of any road, because I’d have spread my last breath across half an acre.

The entire forest could be mine.

The stones and fallen leaves left trembling in my wake. 

"Bad things are going to happen.
Your tomatoes will grow a fungus
and your cat will get run over.
Someone will leave the bag with the ice cream
melting in the car and throw
your blue cashmere sweater in the drier.
Your husband will sleep
with a girl your daughter’s age, her breasts spilling
out of her blouse. Or your wife
will remember she’s a lesbian
and leave you for the woman next door. The other cat–
the one you never really liked–will contract a disease
that requires you to pry open its feverish mouth
every four hours. Your parents will die.
No matter how many vitamins you take,
how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys,
your hair and your memory. If your daughter
doesn’t plug her heart
into every live socket she passes,
you’ll come home to find your son has emptied
the refrigerator, dragged it to the curb,
and called the used appliance store for a pick up–drug money.
There’s a Buddhist story of a woman chased by a tiger.
When she comes to a cliff, she sees a sturdy vine
and climbs half way down. But there’s also a tiger below.
And two mice–one white, one black–scurry out
and begin to gnaw at the vine. At this point
she notices a wild strawberry growing from a crevice.
She looks up, down, at the mice.
Then she eats the strawberry.
So here’s the view, the breeze, the pulse
in your throat. Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat,
slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel
and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely.
Oh taste how sweet and tart
the red juice is, how the tiny seeds
crunch between your teeth.”

- Relax written by Ellen Bass

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My name is Dexter. I am 27 years old, and I am drinking tea in the early afternoon on a wednesday in my living room. In this precise and unremarkable moment, I am holding a photograph in my mind of a young girl sleeping on a couch with a radio on the table next to her, I am typing this sentence, and I am listening to a record. Time is passing but I do not feel like time is passing and sometimes I could almost believe that it does not exist. Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe I am still young, riding idly in the passenger seat of Eddie Hamels old Buick, smoking stale cigarettes when I was 15. Maybe all the love I’ve felt in my life exists as more than just a plume of smoke, slowly vanishing, leaving only its scent on my clothes. Maybe it’s a small stone, perfect and smooth and clutched in my tightened fist. Maybe it’s both of these things simultaneously and we all get to choose which reality we live inside. 

Real time and perceived time couldn’t be less agreeable. Hold your breath for sixty seconds. Call someone you love and talk for sixty seconds. There is a difference, and we have language to describe this phenomenon - “Today flew by”, “Work dragged on forever today.” and for good reason. Time is malleable - a force like gravity, and though we have calibrated it to a standard, even that isn’t consistent outside of our planet. Time distorts, slows down, and eventually stops as you get closer to black holes, speeds up as you get further from gravitational pull, and inside of our minds can cease to exist entirely in moments of pure awareness. 

Inside a room, a man sits with a piece of paper and a pencil. He takes one second and divides it in half. He splits it in half again, and again, and again, and this goes on forever in infinite divisibility. In this scenario one second could potentially hold an infinite amount of time inside of it.

Across the street, two teenagers sit in the back seat of a car at dusk, their fingers intertwined, their foreheads pressed together, tiny eternities passing with their every breath. The dawn will come, the sun will rise, the clock will continue to advance in its cold and resolute way, but until observed means very little. 

So I am sitting in a chair, in my living room and I’ve finished my tea and started the record over again. I am still 27 years old, albeit several minutes older than I was when I began writing this and the sun is cutting through my drapes and the cats are asleep and I have since lost the photograph in my mind that I held before, and I am thinking of a time when I was younger and I fell asleep in the middle of the day in the bedroom where I grew up in Chicago. It was springtime and I was in high school and I had put on a Brian Eno album that I’d never heard before, and when I woke up there was a breeze and the light and I’d never woken up clean like that before. I walked downstairs and my father had made mussels and I ate them cold at the table with lemon and drank ice water. The memory is the same as the photograph, an instant that moves inside of itself, experienced fully in the blink of an eye just as vividly as if it were happening again right now. I can’t say that it isn’t, though I have observed it and am writing about it, and now it falls victim to interpretation over time and the whole scene changes. Maybe this is what we experience when we live. Maybe we are living in the memory of some perfect flash of light where we lived and died in an instant, set into motion, spinning like tops through a beautiful photograph, trying to keep our balance as long as we can. When we topple over, and surely we all will,  maybe we return to a quiet place devoid of time, waiting for another perfect flash of light. A place we never really left. 

A Roman philosopher named Lucretius once wrote, “Nature resolves everything into its component atoms, and never reduces anything to nothing.” If this is the case, then death is not the ending of any segment of time. It is only the changing of matter. A physical rearrangement of organic material in three dimensional space. Floating in a mist of atoms that divorce and remarry in constant flux. 

When I’m out at night, walking around under the neon white lights feeling like a speck of dust, and it’s just me and the police out moving in big slow circles around the city, and I take the long ways through the alleys and maybe pretend I’m trying not to be found, but maybe it’s not pretend, and I wind up in an underground lot kicking around cigarette butts and I end up at the top of a parking garage blowing around in the wind like a paper bag feeling new and clean, and it’s a couple hours later and I go back home and I sit at my desk and write a few pages about nothing and go to bed, these are the songs I play.

Sad Tour

Dear,

I stole from you. I stole your bobby pins and an old stamp while you were sleeping. I stole a red button from your box. They sit in a pile in my room and they are slowly burying me. Last year I stole an old red piece of string from a bracelet you made and it hangs here limply around my lamp next to my dinner reservations. Things I will save to bury in the garden we plant. Things that will mature in the warm soil. Things that will lay waste to our distance. Things that will lay love to your rough parts and smooth my grating voice. I promise you I won’t steal any more. I promise you I won’t lose your things. You are singing with choirs of tired angels and broken cars humming in my head.

For now, I will live like a brave man. I will live like a long lost love. I will pull my ships from the sea and put them in bottles full of dirt and earth. I will sleep lightly and with purpose. I will touch my arm gently sometimes and pretend it’s you. I will sleep on my side and listen for your breath at my back. I will meet you out there where the cars gently crest the tops of hills and the stars are sparks falling from the sky. Where our bodies will hum steadily next to one another and become dust, I will miss you.