In a world that I cannot imagine, there are many ways that the future can go. But now, despite the fact that there are a variety of presents, I can only foresee one result. I wanted to move you.
I take some notes because I am trying to get a grip on things. And now I couldn’t lose you if I wanted to.
You know I love it when things are predictably the same. For example, when faced with structural linguistics for the first time, one student in a classroom will always insist, “but what about BEFORE there was language, what about BEFORE the symbolic order. Things were actually real, then, right?” Of course not. But and I wonder where the future is, in relation to that.
You, it seems, wanted to
Thus says the Lord: I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, saying to those who are in darkness, “Show yourselves.”
This week, the homily was about violence and, from the pulpit, the priest asks us to think about why we live in places even when they are violent. He wants us to think about it now and also to remember it every day. It is normal, he tells us, if this concern obsesses you. Why do we wake up and stay and live here again? He tells us, “this is it. If you’d rather be doing something else, now’s the time.”
Long before I moved to New York, I used to visit. And I would sit in the library with someone who is now my friend and she would say over and over that I should move here. It was an unfamiliar feeling and one that I understand, in retrospect, to have been friendship and fondness. Now I do live here and the way that she asked me– well. If she wanted to move me… well– it is one of my most perfectly blissful memories and I think about it almost every day.
It hasn’t been that long and yet no one is surprised. In a world that I cannot imagine, the future is unimaginable. But as it is, I can see all of it.
Away from home for the first time in a long time, I ride in the back seat of a car with two people I have only just met and one who I have known for a very long time. The snow had melted enough to see the ground. The brown grasses had been part of my initial tour but now someone else is leading and mentioning some of the best same sections. She explains that they haven’t seen the ground in months, under the snow, that soon it will be covered again. “Wait, what’s that!?” she stops, eyes dragging her body back with them as they fix on a passing patch of brown. It is mud. She’s excited again. In the future, the snow will re-cover the mud, too. And when I ask her how Top Chef ended, she whips around. We have only just met — this time over her left shoulder– fast enough for the seat belt to seize. “You REALLY want to know?” she asks. “I love spoilers,” I explain.
On all of my trips I, who am so obsessed with home, take notes because I am convinced that while I’m there, I might be delusional. When I get back I review everything and judge it again. It’s hard for me to remember home when I am not in it. I just abide where I am. With you or alone. And now the fact of this and of you, well…
I can see the future and it is the way that it has smoothed my past into something appreciable. In it, we are there, and we know the language and we both know the story. For once, we both know the story. I wanted to move you
They shall feed along the ways, on all the bare heights shall be their pasture; and I shall turn all my mountains into a road, and on my highways shall be raised up. That’s from Isaiah: about a time when the world will look so different that it will be unrecognizable but still where the people live. There is no time after language, either– at least not one that we can envision because we don’t have the words to describe it.
It was a pretty queer sermon, I think. I have always lived in violent places because my family abides deeper than that violence. Nowhere is safe for us and still we turn up for each other, and when we know that our loved ones are in darkness, because it’s all we can do, we show ourselves. And when we are far from each other, we feel it in our bodies, write messages, locate home sometime after language but before the departure.
I don’t know how else to explain it except that something happened and my pain has rarely flared up enough to disable me for more than a few hours. I didn’t really know until I went back to look through my record. I don’t keep a diary but I keep a visual log of my pain. And in the last 60 days it’s declined so steeply that I am temporarily certain that I am either a different person or that language has changed. Periodic dysphasia, sure, but everything else is clearer. I haven’t taken a sick day in a full two months: a record. I can concentrate in most of the moments. I am continuous and coherent. I am one person, writing notes to home to remind myself, in case this goes away, that this is possible to get back.
In the car, she asks me if I really want to know how it ends and I say yes. There is space for new friends.
A hefty amount of stress melted off. A few months ago, my life spanned backwards, a major mountain range. From any vantage point you could see a dozen others, shadowed, inaccessible, snowy. And then the snow melted to reveal the warm brown, beneath. It was softer than expected and, it turns out, that I wasn’t lost in the mountains, but just very, very small upon a crest of a crumpled paper bag. Now I am my size and can smooth it. I can tear it in half or use it to write a note. I cannot explain how time has collapsed to give me memory of it, complicatedly–sure–, all. But I’m glad we’re here together and I can hand it to you and, I guess, you can hold it too, if you want.
She asks me if I really want to know how it ends: “You love spoilers? Really? I love spoiling things!.. What haven’t you seen?”
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing!
Everyone I know is getting closer together. My own life, is small enough to pick up and– I am so relieved– move me.
Back in Brooklyn, at a show, I get to sit between the friend that invited me here, 7 years ago and a dear, new friend. And the new friend turns to me and says, “I’m a sucker for any line about coming home.” And I smile back at her to maintain the surface tension of my watering eyes. I agree so hard that just hearing her say it– we are both small atop– we are both ourselves– we are both flung together, unmoving, here: home.
In the future, when the mountains are roads, I’ll meet you here.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.