Monday, January 19, 2015

We lost it up there.

We lost it up there. You said “the woods clear my head,” but when we came to the cabin, cold and dusty-empty a mile from the lake, nothing shifted. In the morning, frying omelets, we fought. To add chives or not. You grating cheddar over bubbling yolks, oil popping spitting gurgling, trying in its small way to interrupt the grate of our own voices.

I was thinking about what it had felt like, seeing you for the first time. Memories like that seemed more real in a way than what was happening now. It was incredible, to be this angry over a stovetop. I thought this calmly, even as you gripped the frying pan’s handle, even as the muscle in your arm arched lifting it. The thought came to me: how odd it was for us to be here at all.

And by “here” I meant life, or earth, or the universe. This was my failing (you informed me) – my inability to focus on what really mattered. I had a habit of slipping into awe and bewilderment at the magnitude of the universe and ourselves scrambling around in it. Eggs, chives, breakfasts, you – at any moment, anything and everything verged on becoming either utterly inconsequential or monumentally important, depending on the shift of my gaze.

The oil was hot when it hit the freckles on my face. Your face was red as you stared, fist wrapped so tightly around the wooden handle. “Is your head clear now?” I screamed – ludicrous, sad, in retrospect – but you could not make a sound. My next scream was one of pain and still you stood there. You looked lost, like a small child who has lost sight of their mother in a crowded shopping mall. Helpless to move. Looking around for somebody to help.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

in the final hours of being twenty-three


I'm not much for reflection these days. Or wisdom. Writing it, I mean. Pretending I have it, I mean. Sometimes I feel sad and sometimes I feel alone and terribly alive at the same time. Sometimes I feel empty and sometimes I feel overwhelmingly grateful and breathtakingly alive at the same time. There are things I feel I never thought to feel, things I have I never dreamed of having, things I want or no longer want that I couldn't have predicted at all. And so on, and on. The sheer fact of being a person blows my fucking mind.

I love having my birthday aligned so closely with the beginning of calendar years. Tonight, in a room full of young girls and older volunteers, we had to go around and say, in this order: our names, our rap names (mine is "e-rock", thanks to L - although I definitely thought of "emac" first, thanks to Holly), and what we were looking forward to in the new year.

"All the things I don't know that are going to happen," said I.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

"We Were the Last" (part ii)

[part i]

After a moment, the ringing through the phone stopped, and a man's voice, crisp and clear, could be heard coming out of the phone's excellent speakers.

"Yes?" said the voice.

"M 9 2 19 50," said Carrie.

Still standing behind the counter, the woman's face grew whiter by the moment. She opened her mouth into a wide, pleading gape, ready to speak, but Carrie held up a single finger to silence her. Cathleen watched all of this without moving or making a sound.

The three of them waited while the moment floated between and around them.

"Alley 15, Greenwich Village, Suite 134?" came the man's voice again.

"Affirmative," said Carrie.

"Request to speak to the providor," said the man.

Without responding, Carrie held the phone out to the woman, who took it from her. Carrie noted that the woman's hands were very cold and not a little unsteady.

"Sir...." said the woman.

Instead of the man's voice, though, a robotic recording came streaming through the air. "This is an official notice of job termination. Your services are no longer needed or desired as a part of this corporation. Refer to part C of your initial contract: immediate termination clause. Thank you for your compliance."

The woman's chin wobbled a little. Cathleen looked away, uncomfortable. Carrie stared at the woman, hand held out. The woman placed the device back into the little girl's hand.

"Um," said the woman.

"Excuse me," said Carrie.

"Car--" began Cathleen.

"Excuse me," Carrie repeated, firmly, into the air, as if trying to get through to everything at once: the woman, her sister, anything not interested in making this as brief and simple as possible.

The woman began gathering a few things behind the desk. A picture frame (it took a moment for Cathleen to name the object - who had those anymore, anyway?), a mug (ditto), and a curiously shaped wooden box about two inches tall, long and narrow. The woman teetered through a small side exit and the door clicked tightly shut behind her, locking. Cathleen stared at it even so, as if waiting for something else to happen.

Nothing did.

"What is my next step?" Carrie was saying into the phone.

"Authorization to proceed," the man said. The call ended.

"Alright then," Carrie said, pocketing the thing. "Next things next."

"Car," said Cathleen.

"What?" Carrie asked.

"It's just," she tried. "I just...."

"Look," Carrie said, voice softening, finally looking her sister straight in the eyes. "It's the two of us," she said. "You know that. We know that. The only way to get through anything is together. We're everything."

"Yeah?" said Cathleen, although with more hope or more doubt it was hard to say.

"Yeah," said Carrie, smiling now. "We're what comes next."