The following is partly based on a conversation with illume at eight.
Losing the grip on your messenger bag, not being able to hold onto the strap five seconds more is ensconced in a layer of reinforced glass beneath conscious thought and REM sleep. I begged you not to go to the railing. I recounted statistically significant data on the accidental deaths that occurred at the bridge.
But you wouldn’t listen to me, You dared not to listen. I don’t believe in statistics, you said, as though what happened to other people didn’t apply to you, could never apply to you. For forty-two years, this attitude kept you safe from disease, heartache, melancholy, nausea, disappointment, and loss. But not fear.
See, you were so afraid of submerging yourself in the grit and hollowness of existence that you denied them. It was easy to do when you were young, when your appetite for sweets and meats and starches equaled — no, surpassed — my hunger for a soothing touch and tight spaces in the ungodly hours of the night. And I was the town glutton — everyone knew.
You didn’t claim to be immortal or invulnerable, you aged just like the rest of us. You subsisted, though, on the fringes of community and you wouldn’t have had it any other way. Because, the in-groups and out-groups didn’t want to have it any other way. Your gait was too light for their hearing and your dreams and wishes…too transcendent for their beliefs and artificial sense of stability.
That’s why I loved you. Your refusal to see decay was so alien to me. The first time I tasted your point-of-view, I couldn’t imagine myself waking up another day without the warmth of your don’t-be-silly confidence.
But, imagine it I must do. I have done. I have story-boarded the rest of my life without you in it, without you stomping in rain puddles with your bright purple boots, without you laughing at my dismal jokes.
Losing the grip on your messenger bag could’ve been the last regret of my life. Though, I’m sure you would tell me that not trying to implement your secret to a life of leisure would be the greater tragedy.
I try not to see the tears; I try not to see loss. Instead, I try to replace the surprised look on your face as you fell with the taste of the custard pie you threw at mine. It was delicious.
Coda: This piece was supposed to be about my fear of feeling embarrassed when I’m trying to operate machinery and failing absurdly. It took me over a year to gain enough confidence and non-self-awareness to get gas for my car by myself. Back in the late 1990s, a lot of gas pumps were a two step process. You picked your “pay here” and lifted the nozzle and flicked the level up or back or whatever direction and off you went. Why was that so hard? Because I thought if I couldn’t do it fast enough, someone would be watching and judging and making fun of me.
I refuse to use the self-checkout at grocery stores for this reason. I don’t mind bagging my own groceries, though…because certain items do not belong in the same bag together. Ever.
This post ended up taking on a life of its own.