Sunday, March 7, 2010

Number whatever

I just read my friend A's post.
I love the way she has of seeing the world. Even when it makes me introspective and sad for no real reason, I love it.
I am watching an old woman watch weird video's on youtube. She smells bad, and the video's are of spinning circles, and people hanging themselves. She bobs her head in time to some internal rhythm, or maybe it's to the beat of the victim's silent cries. The girl two computers down from me has her headphones in and a cold, so she breathes loudy through her mouth and sniffles. There is something so heart-rendingly realistic about public libraries; the people and their faults and their quirks and things are unclean and Not Nice.
Today I was jolted out of my comfort zone by an unexpected meeting with someone I would rather not see, though there are no hard feelings between us. It's cool. But still. It's left me unbalanced, slightly off-tilt, and I wish that someone somewhere could have warned me, so I could have had even a second or two to prepare...instead it was like a stupid bolt of lightning thrown down by a malevolent god.
There are two people in front of me who are working on a group project. She plays with her hair, twisting it round a finger slowly and delibrately, and he yawns and stretches his arms...accidentally brushes her shoulder and apologizes.
I wish I had a scarf on today. The breeze is going down the back of my neck.
I wish I hadn't worn my hair so severely pulled back. It hurts, but if I took it down now it would look like a mad-woman's.
Like the old woman in front of me.
I wish I could have slept on the couch in the sun today. Let it soak in my my goldeness.
Seriously, I would be fine right now if it hadn't been so sudden. It was nowhere even near the forefront of my brain, then BAM!
Hey Jane!
(slow movement of head, looking for the source of sound)
Spotted, with a friend. I wave, not believing it, hoping it's not.
Heeeeeyy...what's up? How are you doing?
I walk over and lean against the wall. My stomach has disappeared. My brain is a mist. Speak, mouth, say anything.
Hi. What are you doing here?
He's not supposed to be here. This is my portion of the city. Stop going red, darnit.
Oh, just picking up the university chicks.
Ha. Ha. (I look at his friend.) It's Tom, right? (I bloody well know it's Tom. But play along.)
Tom nods at me, a small smile on his mouth. I get a shiver. He doesn't speak.

I wish I was living in a villa in the South of France. Or digging through the dirt with a dusty, sweat-stained face and a sore back, uncovering fragments of human existence.
I wish there was a place where humanity didn't touch. I know it doesn't really make sense, but it would be so refreshing to just sit in a room, a world, a universe that wasn't ying-and-yang...everything somewhat tainted and mixed together.

Well, I've got an essay to write.
They look at me, waiting for the klutzy, off-balance, red-cheeked girl to make another move.
A big essay. (Darn. Why did I just say that? I didn't need to clarify. Pull yourself together.) Luckily, another guy walks over and joins them, shouting Hello!
I look sideways at him, and slide along the wall, leather jacket scraping on the brick, saying I'll see you later (not meaning it) and he says Talk to you soon to my back as I escape.
I wish I hadn't eaten so much sushi for lunch.


  1. Truth in the rough. That's what your writing is. You've described the unclean feeling of public spaces, and the all-consuming agony of importune meetings and social interactions very well.

    How well?

    "I wish there was a place where humanity didn't touch. I know it doesn't really make sense, but it would be so refreshing to just sit in a room, a world, a universe that wasn't ying-and-yang...everything somewhat tainted and mixed together."

    The longing to get away. Find the remotest part of the world. A million miles from anyone. Dig a cave in the pristine ground. Hide from humanity. Never heard it described so well.

    I know just what you mean. It helps that you say it so clearly.

    I've been toying with the idea of writing a book about this. The wish to escape. To find a place without people, unencumbered by torturing memories and old wounds, free of pain and uncleanliness and social convention, and my own mistakes which caused them. Now I think I just might have to write it.

    I learned once that the true meaning of the word "inspire" was "to breathe in."

    Thanks for the fresh air.

  2. Hi,
    I was thinking about you tonight and missing you like I haven't missed anyone in a long time. I am there for you all along, through it all, I hope you know. Through mountains, rivers, big cities, and small towns.

    I'm proud of the way you handled your encounter. Even though your insides may have felt like exploding, you did good.

    Hope all is well, I'll be writing you soon.


  3. Knight, you make me blush. Thanks for the kind words. I hope you do write a book about escape...I have a feeling it wouldn't need to be a very long book, just long enough to bring the point across. And if you find a place untainted by humanity, please tell me and I will go there.
    Escape is a strong word, and sometimes (though I long to erase and start over) I realize that it's not realistic, or mature, or conventional. But it's still wonderful to dream...

    Jacq: last time it almost happened, and this time it actually happened. I think I handled it well, but I'm mostly just angry with myself for feeling the way I did. I wish I could control my emotions better, even if he couldn't see them. Someday, hopefully, right? RIGHT??
    Also, I miss you too. Thanks for being here in spirit.

  4. Powerful piece, Jane. You paint such a clear picture of that internal turmoil which is taking over after we're forced to leave our comfort zone. I am familiar with all that, too.
    You have a strong shield covering a soft, sensitive heart. She's the one longing to escape somewhere where nothing and no one could hurt her.

    Perhaps that place of escape is not in France or anywhere else in the world, but inside you...:)

  5. Laura, I'm glad I'm not the only one who goes through this... it feels so isolating sometimes, makes me feel like a fool. Thanks for the connection.