Posts Tagged ‘wishes’

See Like You

The first series are pictures of me looking for this camera—on the table where I had left it for just a moment, on the other chairs, underneath, and apparently into the sky, as if it could have leapt onto the awning of the café or been stolen by a seagull. These photos were taken from close range, and if the camera could see me, I should have been able to see the camera. In one, I am asking other tourists. In another, I am looking straight into the lens. In the next few, I am wandering along the boardwalk and then the streets back to my hotel.

The second series are pictures of you. At least I assume they are. Your feet in sandals, on the pebbles. The arc of your hip, with the sea as background. Your hand grasping a blue scarf. Edges of shoulder, neck, earlobe, lips, always in a new location, apparently shot on the same day, between pre-dawn and post-sunset, and never in a mirror. Hints. Nothing that identifies you.

The third series are pictures of things I would never have seen without you. At least, I would never have seen them in the same light, from the same angle, with the same ideology, with the same patience. A seagull picking at a crab shell, unnoticed by the crowd tanning on the other side of a big rock. A particular tomato at a fruit stand as it is examined by five successive customers over the course of a day. A series of shots of an ice cube melting on your pelvis. It quickly meets the curve of your body, your skin with goosebumps. Then it turns to water, then it evaporates.

Next there are shots of a hang-glider as he runs towards a cliff. Somehow you are positioned to see his face, first in reflexive fear, then in perfect exhilaration. I had a dream like that while visiting. You couldn’t have known.

When I found my camera again, it was the last day of my trip, my bags were right beside me, and it was on my table at the café, exactly where I had left it. How did you know I would come back? Perhaps you returned every day, set the camera down and watched. It is such a crowded café. I suppose the owner must have been in on it. She always seemed to know something.

Something that Will Never Last

Yesterday I got rid of all my old photos, my old letters and emails, my old trinkets and souvenirs. Isn’t all nostalgia false? As I scrubbed, I examined these things, things for years I had saved like treasure. I am glad I remember the truth. These were not honest records, let alone mature or expansive ones. They were poses, apologia, propaganda, wishes—separated by voids of convenient omission.

Isn’t it a terrifying thought, that one day you could lose your memories and in their place absorb from your own shoeboxes and shelves of talismans the frozen smiles of snapshots, the bias confirmation of postcards, the revisionism of letters, the tawdriness of keepsakes, and the oblivion of the unmentioned, as true? As you?

I want us to make something that will never last, that was never meant to. A winter dusting while the city sleeps. A snowflake caught in an updraft, lifted but not melted. My breath, a mist that vanishes and resurges.

I will take my shovel to the roof and form a sculpture of pure expression and snow, something beyond irony or reference or didactics, and that only a handful of people will ever see, the executives still at their desks at midnight, the janitors, the security guard taking a break from his beat to gaze down from those great heights surrounding me.

An instant can last until the instant you die, but what takes years to accomplish is brutally abbreviated by memory. I want a second in slow motion with you, the silence anticipating your laugh, the steams of our breath touching, with snowflakes fixed into this picture like a constellation.

I want to call a perfect stranger and tell him that I love you, that I am bursting to tell you so. But I will not ask for advice, I will not want to be released. I will hope the need will never leave me.

Photographers take thousands of pictures to keep just one. I want to spend a day with you, culminating in a look, a touch, a sound I will never forget, and perhaps if it is perfect, I will never see you again.

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Not Nearly Lost Enough

When the bear market began in 2007, I thought it would bottom soon. I bet on a rebound that never came. My pulse raced at the news, the win so tangible, the loss unthinkable. They say that hope has strength, but I can tell you, it does not have effect. Every day, I watched another one of my options (bets) expire worthless. My positions turned to dust.

I don’t remember the moment I stopped caring. About a month ago? I became as fascinated with losing it all as I had ever been with winning big. It seemed nobler than trying to salvage some pathetic remnant. All-or-nothing, I doubled down. Over the past couple of days, it turns out that I bet all wrong. I would have to live for hundreds of years to earn it back. The impossibility of this is liberating.

Getting fired sure did clear up my schedule. So I dug out my flute. The old case really did have dust on it, and I sounded worse than when I quit at 23. But the notes were still there, and the endless loops in my mind were silent. I remembered a Bach partita, and played it full of mistakes. I have never been more pleased.

A year ago I barely made time to speak with friends. Always in brief phone calls, often from a cab. Yesterday I just sat on a stoop with my friend (I’m not sure I have any others left) and all we did was bounce a ball. Really, I don’t think we even talked. We downed a forty. It was perfect.

The world is ninety-nine percent poor only if we judge it a certain way. I’m not out to glamourize poverty, but are you sure we’ve got those criteria right? Sure, we want to be free of the tyranny of need. We want to optimize our markets, fund our dreams, extend our knowledge and our powers. But why construct a game where the only way to win is to concentrate capital? Why not reward its conversion into other forms: society, art, liberation?

Think of all the things you have accumulated without happiness. Do you own your positions and privileges, or do they own you? What you would be happy to lose if everyone else would lose it, too? Let’s stay up late and throw it all away. And when this mess is over, let’s dance. We’ll dance like the light playing on the rubble of a ruined city we can rebuild better.

A Bag of Dried Mangoes

I don’t have a plan in the world. I have the wide open sky and a bag of dried mangoes. My last girlfriend called them slices of sunshine.

I have kept the phrases my friends and I made up. A teenager is “a case of ginger ale”, empty praise from the human resources director is “a licorice reward”, and the rocks that reach out into the bay of the small town where I grew up is “where the dragon fell asleep a thousand years ago”. There are others I can tell you if we meet. These phrases are the best things I am keeping. The things I left behind were difficult to part with. Otherwise there would be no virtue in giving them up. There was a Spanish helmet everyone thought preposterous, but that I loved. There was my guitar that, miraculously, stayed in tune for three straight years. There was my best friend.

Is it crazy to take a bus this far? The route follows secondary roads where towns have had time to grow, places you cannot reach any other way. The curves, the stops, the boredom. I only wish it could take longer. I wanted this so badly. I could have flown, but that would ruin it—too clean, too impersonal.

When I arrive I will step straight down onto the broken asphalt of the parking lot. I will part my lips to breathe and let the dry air dry me, Austin. I will be in the thick of your scent, your dust. Any change worth making has to come up from the ground with the heat, has to press against the soles of the feet.

I don’t know who you will be; I have rinsed my expectations clean. But I want to feel that rush of nerves, to laugh with you without knowing where laughter leads, to kiss you without knowing how a kiss can thrill. And you will give me a new phrase.