To a kid born in the 70’s, 2010 seems a long way from the polyester days of my toddlerhood, but at times I feel like I’m still trapped in pajamas with attached booties, being bounced on the lap of a relative I barely know. Except the relative is now an adult me, and the lap is my fragile bank account. The pajamas? They’re this personality I’m stuck with that makes me scared of my own feelings, resigned to live in the cold shadows of my insecurity, and nervous to stick my big foot out and walk forward like the cartoon man in those famous R. Crumb drawings.
There’s a knocking at my door, it’s the landlord, what is it he is seeking?
There’ s a rustling in the trees, it’s bees, whose skin do they want to sting?
I gave up coffee for green tea. I gave up drag racing for this rocking chair. I gave up breathing under water for this life of books. Change is inevitable, persistant, and invincible. It keeps slamming into walls, blowing off roofs, and doing its best big, bad wolf impersonation.
There’s no whale for me to be eaten by. There’s just the last song we slow-danced to. There’ s no Christmas sweater on my back. There’s just the missing puzzle piece you found under the couch. If I was rich I would buy myself enough time to make this getaway complete. I would get Banksy to paint my cave.
I put my thoughts on the computer and the computer puts them into a shape we collectively recognize: letters, words, paragraphs. The computer receives my soul’s input and regurgitates it to you. The weather inside the computer is always overcast. The screen is always white. The characters little ants in a snowfield. My thoughts walk around in this cyber-snowfield, wondering if they’ll be seen among all that white; in the endlessly vast, busy nothingness that is the Internet, will they find a warm place to sit and express themselves?
Do they even know what they are? These words… do they know they’re the children of my searching, frangible mind? My brain being a network of neurons and tissue, my mind being the collections of experiences, feelings, emotions that make me “me”. What will happen if the network melts but my flesh continues on, will I cease to be “me”? The kid in the pajamas with attached booties stumbling through life trying to find his place in the mirror. If I don’t have a brain, will I still have a mind? If I didn’t have arms, or legs, or ears, or a mouth, or eyes, will I be worth talking about?
Nobody listens to ghosts. You can’t play it safe. It won’t get you anywhere.
Life is a dangerous enterprise. If nobody ever hurt you, that wouldn’t be a life. We struggle to find some comfort here on this craggy space-rock: a career, the girl we love, a place where we feel comfortable. Along the way, indecision, bad luck, lack of confidence will do its best to impede our progress. And once we get there, the meat grinder will masticate it to pieces. Once you’ve found your contentment, you better hide it in a very good place; or better yet, prepare to have it ripped away. Stolen. Lost. Bamboozled.
I’m in a good place right now. My hat is tied on tight. Love has taken pity on me. The moon spins like a disco ball in starfilled skies just for me.
Meanwhile, the sun shoots solar flares at the Earth. While we float around the universe I count my shoes and watches and try to figure out how to stay planted in this place. As satellites freeze in the coldness of space I dance around the Earth wearing the shroud of turin as a cape.
It’s a universal ambition of young children to hide in small spaces, build blanket forts, and pretend to be invisible. Everyday as an adult I seek some time to myself, where I can envision myself as meaningful and large, and hide from the brunt force of my ennui.
I think the kids got it right.