Saturday, January 21, 2012

I Hate Every Title I Come Up With For This

I read this last night at an event. Or rather, I made everyone else read it out loud, paragraph by paragraph, and that was fantastic. I might make that my thing, making audience members read for me, I'm terrible at reading my own stuff and it's pretty fantastic to hear your words in other people's mouths.

I am incapable of change.
I long for it. I look around at my house, my car, my job, at my body in the bathroom mirror getting out of the shower and I want it all to be different. But when I concentrate hard, when I try to gather up motivations, to suction out the fog in my head and replace it with cold hard strategy, those motivations and strategies and plans are slowly eaten away by my brain’s naturally produced poison of staying put. They are eroded until there is nothing left but a lacey shadow on my brain of what I intended to do. An xray memory. A blot on an otherwise smooth surface.

I live in a city that is as poisoned as my brain.
I drive to work in the early morning hours, when the molecules of the City are still and quiet, and the only movements are the sparse cars gliding along grey empty highways, and the buzzing from street lamps and gas station signs. I drive past monstrous hunks of architecture that have been killed in the battle between industry and flight, the remains of wealth and power. These rotting buildings are the physical incarnations of my shadows, proof positive that no willpower can exist for very long in the Wasteland. Nobody knocks them down. Nobody fixes them. Nobody remembers what they used to be for. We hardly see them anymore, they lay invisible in the background of our lives, full of power but cold and dead.

This is what I think about as I’m at the gas station, the sun rising behind the Citgo sign, (listening to the man on his cellphone at the pump next to me who apparently doesn’t care if we blow up) - Before we had horizons and linear perspective, art had hierachy, an aristocracy. A character’s size was based on his or her’s importance to the story of the painting. This was called vertical perspective. It was left behind in the dust of the modern centuries, because it was illogical, and the concept of abstract art wasn’t due to be reborn on the scene for another hundred thousand million light years. The Horizon was invented and stabilized and everyone started using it, not just sailors on their little toy wooden boats, but writers and artists and soldiers. Like when people who weren’t lawyers first started using cell phones. The Horizon was at one point a modern technological miracle. A shining beacon of what humanity could accomplish - the Horizon!

It comes first from the Horizon. I am driving to work one morning, listening to the same CD I’ve had in the car for a year, when on the edge of my vision I catch a light. Not a flickering street light, or rushing lights of another car, but a gleaming glow coming from the mouth of the river, on the horizon of the large cold block of grey that is the Lake. It is pulsing a silent gold, which reflects on my windshield and shines against the concrete walls of the old City. This light, coming from an unknown awe inspiring enigmatic far far away point on the Horizon, gets stronger and stronger throughout the day. It turns the winter sky pink and silver. It transforms the dirty windows of the warehouses to twinkling prisms.

By the time we are all driving home, during what would normally be a pitch black rush hour, the entire City is lit up like a spotlight. But this light does not just reflect, it sticks, like gold dust settling on the streets. Our car tires turn up storms of sparkles like snow. It settles on our hair and eyelashes and clothes as glitter. It absorbs into the asphalt and turns the soot covered bricks, black with a century of manufacturing coughs, into jewels and shingles into irridescent shells. Those old dinosaur buildings, they become living breathing animals, snuggled in their nests.

The best part though is what happens when you breathe in the gold light. First you choke a little, with the tingling of it down your throat. Then you feel a warmth settle in your chest, as if you had just sipped a glass of bronzed whiskey. Next you feel it spreading through your veins, and up into your head. You want to lie down in grass and stare spinning at the sky, only it’s January in Cleveland so there is no grass. Instead you sit in your car with the heat blasting, and close your eyes, feel the light reaching up your spine behind your eyeballs, and into your corneas, and out through your lashes. I hadn’t realized how slow my heart was beating before, but I notice now in retrospect, as my heart beats faster and faster.

I am dizzy with a kind of universal caffeine. I open my eyes, and everything seems cleaner. The snow is whiter and the brown sludgey ice around the edges is gone. The sky is no longer grey, but shades of mauve and cream and violet. The siding on the houses is newer, the cars nicer, the people better dressed. The City has been gilded through and through. Everyone is happier. I am happier. All my memories are scrubbed clean. I barely remember my disgust with the never ending sameness, instead that familiarity seems to be a power, something that makes me strong, knowing where everything comes from and everything goes. Being “stuck here” is suddenly “ideal cost of living” “affordable amenities” “friends and family.”

There are lots of words thrown around the next few months, and I hear them all the time, online and on the radio, from the mouths of my friends. Revitilization. Civic Rebirth. Renaissance. There are not more jobs suddenly, people are no less poor and miserable, everyone is still bored. But now that the light has made everything seem prettier, nobody seems to mind those other things as much. The mysterious dust is gone, has absorbed into the groundwater and steel, but the euphoria remains. I know deep inside my head, beyond the reach of the Light, that this is not a Golden Age. This is the last huzzah before the end. This is the revenge of all those rotting brick husk buildings, the forgotten schools and masonic temples, the sprawling abandoned factories, they are gasping out their last boomtown breaths. But I just can’t bring myself to protest.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Who wants to fuck the Editors?