I used to walk around with a little notebook in my bag, and jot down fleeting thoughts on subway cars. My fingertips, half stained with ink, were moving. I waged wars in my mind about self and sense of self, person and persona, light and dark and my own eternal question—was it more important to have talent or to want talent? The answer—or more importantly, my own classification in that thought, continues to elude me. I put it on here and offered it up. She commented and I had to take it down, because she called me by name. Back when I used to mean something. She thought what I said once was brilliant. She did not know I am not capable of brilliant. Only of pretending.
I will always have a racing mind, on a circular track. He joked it was a hamster wheel, I told him no, it wasn’t, it was a drinking bird, and the bird had drowned. A hard thought, we’d call that one a three-dip, the bird would throw back and forth at least twice, we laughed. What’s worse than ripples, tearing through the still? Having only just the still. Still.
Yet all those clichés come from something, don’t they? We nod. Burn brightly and leave in an engulfing flame, fade out and have those who know you now forget who you were then. Let’s all join in, this is high school and we’ve got some angst to sell.
Wait no, this.
Is after that.
Silly how we forgot. This is not that any more. We don’t hide on the mountain, sneaking cigarettes while the prep school police in the form of Mrs. P—old maid, adviser, science teacher, who makes the same lame joke about a flux capacitor every freaking year (it’s famous in its clunky delivery) when instructing a class on electricity—looks for a flame in the dark, to nail us to the headmaster’s wall. That was a detention offense, and that was a long, long time ago now.
Longer even than the pool of that house, the trading of magazines, the look in everyone's eyes when we talked about reading lists. Dogs and summer wine, lame jokes and Christmas. The walk around the lake. Trying to win her and him over. The last few emails that ever transpired. That was a long time ago, by now.
So long I can’t remember what I looked like, so long that I look at pictures from that time and can’t remember the last name of the person whose arm mine is slung around, I can't remember feeling so small, but I was, I had dreams and habits that made me who I was and I can't recall them. It was so long that I say to myself, I was a kid. And I knew nothing. Now I am not. And yet. Where am I? What have I done with this time? When we come together for the reunion, what will I say? Who will I have become?
No, this is not that time.
This is the marrying time, this is the making a family time, this is the passing it on to the next generation because we forgot to do something with our own time, we should have done it before we were in our twenties and now that we’ve crossed that threshold it’s less a matter of time than it is a matter of mind, until you find out what it all really means. Love is fickle and destructive before it’s everlasting, smalltalk is the only talk I know, and flowers are sent as contrition, memories are null and void.
The last few and many years were spent in a basement party, I have been tricked. It's not fair that I have been tricked, I hiss. What is this—Vegas? No clocks on the walls, no windows? I didn’t even see it pass. I know. I know. I could have stepped outside, I could have checked, but my eyes were fixed, flickering on the monitor, my fingertips couldn’t find a notebook, I was feeling sorry for myself because you were sorry, and I had nothing to make it go away.
This is not that time, we said. We’ll say it again. Years from now. When more of us are gone. But today, it’s just you. You are gone and we remember, the time we had and now, more than ever, the time we had not enough of. The faded paper on which you exist. How I folded it up and put it away, because I didn’t think this time would come. Not really. Because we never really do, even though we say we do. We are not prepared for death. We are not prepared for life.
Rest in peace, Alexis. I’m sorry today that I took your comment down. I am sorry today for many, many things.