Take Another Look











{September 6, 2009}   Description

“Anything But Normal”

A man chanting native american speech “yo ho yo ho” was lying on the couch, his legs sprawled out there as if he belonged there. As if he was a part of the lightning fixture set in concrete. There remains a cloud over the room, as if something had gone terribly wrong and nobody had looked up at the ceiling since. The floor was scrubbed over and over again with pine sol or more advanced brands of cleaners, as the owner was lucky to be dealing with a hardwood floor and not a rug. A rug attracts fuzz, stains, and cigarette burns. You can’t erase the memory from a rug. You can’t really erase the memory from a floor, either, but if a stranger walks in they can’t see the memory unless they have luminol and a whole bunch of other investigative tools that detect any forensic evidence in play.

Perhaps scientists probing these floors would be able to see the real truths but plenty can be seen by the naked eye. For example, a scientist might see residue from a kids watered-down fruit punch orange juice spills. A visitor might notice paper cups carefully handed down to the kids so the cups don’t break. But can an outsider see a history that has been sleekly erased?

A scientist can see history. A single scratch that occured after a dish went flying because a wife criticized her husband demands retribution, appeals that time lost be time taken. They call it the suburbs and they call the suburbs normal. So why is the rain outside so heavy? The water has filled up two feet of a plastic pool made for summertime.

Why do the swing sets outside call to the children the way the sound a Bach prelude and fugue calls to a man on his death bed? And what does it mean for a man to give up his home, the home he remodeled with his own bare hands? Uprooted once again, but now it’s made clear that the whole time home was just a fleeting idea. One to fill a children’s book so that Goldilocks and the three bears could call what they had a name.

Who knows better than a man who builds what a house means? To some it could be any four walls with a door, a frame, a window. But a house that has a longstanding address is supposed to be a symbol of security, and that security is now being uprooted and he knows better than to raise his fists in protest but fortunately he does it anyway. There is no fight left in this home. A sign should be raised, a flag should be saluted: fights not allowed in this house. But the furniture announces it so the sign is not necessary. The chairs are not big enough for two people, so affection may be limited to children and dogs. The dog goes between hyperventilating, running around madly, breaking rules, but mostly his nose sniffs around like every pat to his head is going to be his last one. The way the dog uses its eyes to try and get what it wants is nauseous to those who don’t have the time to dole out empathy as if it were candy. Empathy is not a luxury here.

The little girl cries to be lifted in her daddy’s arms. “Uppy,” she says. The word rhymes with puppy for a reason. The older daughter just curls up on the other chair, feigning indifference. She knows better.

“And don’t act too excited about something or he might say no, so you have so sound kind of excited, but not too excited…” she lectures on how to sound suitably convincing when trying to participate in something engaging that might involve the slightest bit of action or agreement.

Diplomacy is as fallen as the leaves outside. The chickens no longer lay eggs; it’s everyone for himself around here the tractor outside shrieks, and the more scraps of devotion in your heart the worse off you’ll be for the endgame. Maybe the endgame is adulthood; maybe the endgame is tomorrow.

The best thing is to not want affection. Then you win the game you didn’t want to play because everybody is off wanting a piece of you and you just want to be left alone. And as long as they continue to want you, then you can yield the poker stick and poke them into the fire as many times as you want. Because some people aren’t winners. They don’t have it in them. Or worse, they don’t really care about winning or losing, they just wanted to be included, and when they walk off having lost all their savings instead of being broken they are just bewildered because this sort of swindle does not happen to them. It just does not happen inside a nice house like this.

“This is a piece of shit house,” the architect says when describing the place. He says this because the home is manufactured and looks like hundreds of other homes that were carved and cast from the exact same design mold. The room attached to the bedroom is completely unfurnished and the sheathing boards are exposed, with bits of dangerous looking nails and lint leaving what was meant to be the floor to a bathroom exposed.

Don’t hold on to anything too closely because there are more than a million excuses that can be used to push somebody away. More than one muscle aching or one bad mood. Those classics can all be used over and over again, and hell, if you need another one, why bother being creative? Just shove the person out on the porch and remind them that they wanted you and if they decide on out now, it’s a little late, and they knew what they were getting into. And plus, this is just a phase.

You pray it is a phase. You wonder if it is a phase. You wonder how much you can take. You wonder how much you really can put up with because your memory doesn’t like to play tricks on you but when it goes into survival mode it cannot be stopped.

Once you really like someone or something and they hurt you in “the way you deemed unacceptable,” as people inevitably do, because that is how time works, you try a million ways to reconnect. When (it’s only a matter of when, not if) that doesn’t work you easily lose the little patience you had. The only answer is retreat, and even that you do have to do with snot in your nose from crying so much. You’ll learn that dignity at times like those was never important anyway. You threw dignity away at the bus stop when you continued on, refusing and refusing to give up. “I can’t give up,” you say, not noticing that you refuse to say won’t. You don’t believe you have a choice in the matter, not when your head makes arrangements one way while your heart assigns you to another precinct altogether.

“It’s sort of like being an angel, and you meet up with a priest that wants to believe in miracles, but to him you don’t look like an angel, so he sends you out the door. Like on that show Saving Grace? It’s so funny when the priest of the drunken policeman sister meets the sisters angel and dismisses him as somebody of no importance. Do you know what that’s like? Hey, are you listening to me? What are you doing?

Listen, sistah, you gotta find new ways of destroying the memories. Drugs do the trick, but they aren’t thorough enough. You really have to find the memory. Locate. Concentrate. Falsify.

It’s shocking how lousy you are at pretending that what you loved was something that was positively atrocious! You have to pretend that despite the fact that what was once so significant to you that you refused to give it words- for even the meaning was so bursting, overloading with joy that it was that untouchable- or so you thought. In order to lose it, you simply must come over there with razors and a plastic hat and tear it up. Just don’t get too emotionally unglued when you find yourself smashing it over and over again; it’s just a memory chip and the chip itself it not to blame. It’s like burning down every house you built. It’s not personal.

It never was. What is wrong with you!

The fight between asserting and withdrawing feels like a choice that has to be made at every second, and making that choice gets so tiring that eventually you fall into a dizzying silence, a silence that is choked by labored breathing and tears that fall for so long people wonder if you have allergies. Yes, you have allergies. Nobody cries for that long without knowing why they are crying. Crying implies mourning, so what could anybody possibly be mourning here?

It is what is unspoken that is being lost. The reason the tears flow is because retrieval is not possible. You can retrieve anything except the intent to connect.

You get so cold that you get the chills, even with the heat on and two jackets, and even when you are soaked to the bone in the hottest water possible, you are still frozen to the core. The goose-bumps don’t go away. And it is then that you know. You know what you feel the loss of. It’s particles and it’s science and it is feeling what another refuses to feel and please don’t let the warmth be gone and all you can do is shiver and please you cannot ask them to hold you or God forbid stroke you because they will not only resent you for asking because you should know better, they will turn away and when they do that again then your worst fears will be confirmed, but you don’t care about your worst fears as much as you care about stopping the shivering and you can’t stop shivering not again not this time. And you don’t know if the warmth will be back. Until then.

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