My original intent was to have a separate blog for the more prose-y nonfictional things that germinate in my head, but a stubbornly uneditable picture of an amazingly happy orange picker has let me to scrap the dual blog idea and simply use my only trick of posting here.
The so it goes part:
Hopefully obviously and sadly, "so it goes" is a quote from Kurt Vonnegut, most memorably from Slaughterhouse-five, and it is used after people die or otherwise exit conscious humanity. I've adopted the phrase into my own views on the subject. This bears significance right now because a good friend of mine, though I think the degree of friendship is a bit unbalanced (dear readers this is not a one-likes-one-loves instance, I purely mean that I think I want to be stronger friends with her than she with me.) , told me today that among a list of things going on in her life, a friend from back home passed away/passed on/et cetera. She was our age I believe, and my friend was not in what I would call mourning, but just that stage where you find it hard to grasp, and I agree.
I mean, it seems like a bit of of a crap time to die. I can understand dying when you're old or even just starting the tail-end of life. You've had time to do things, you've experienced a hell of a lot hopefully, and you can't really expect to beat all the odds. And I can understand people dying very young. You haven't had all of those experiences, and though it's still pretty cheap at least....I don't know.... you didn't know about them? I think dying young feels to us outsiders like a smaller rug is being ripped out from under the aforementioned deceased than dying when this girl did. Right in the middle of things. Right in the freaking middle.
But I have trouble being very angry about it whenever I think beyond my initial emotions. I don't think there's a monstrously horrible room that you are transported to after you die so that you can have ample amounts of time to lament the circumstances of your death. I think caring about this life stops when this life stops, which is wonderful. I'm going to have to work how to remember people into that idea though. Into my little construct that keeps me sane/persevering amidst probably a plethora of falsities (see there "probably" was the lifeline. And I get to quote myself. Hoho).
What I'm thinking this time is just how dividing it is. The same event is both stopping short so much and opening the biggest door I've ever heard of. No one knows for sure what's beyond this life. I for one think it will be good. I think that no matter what we've done here, that no punishment is eternal. Nothing in this life makes me think things are that far-reaching, both good deeds and bad eventually run their course. Maybe that's the budding economist in me, but if what you do right and wrong here eventually acts out and the Supreme Being has a choice, I believe God is good and that given infinity, He could warm up to us. Hell seems more rash than just.
This whole spiel got very far away from a girl who died around age 18-19-20. A friend of a friend. God bless her.
I have a macroeconomics test tomorrow, which is now today, and to the best of my knowledge I'm not going to find out what's behind that door between now and 9:05 am. I also thought of a few more things I'd like to write (fiction, don't worry, not another drab, almost stream-of-consciousness ramble such as this) as well. I think I shall mosey on back to my room and see if I can dream some of them out a ways.
And then it came into view. Just a tiny roof the colour of seagulls' wingtips, but as I came closer the house grew white walls, and a fence extended out from the right and terminated before it could enclose anything. Maybe to keep the wind off a garden, I thought, what with the usual calibre of coastal gusts in Scotland. I didn't hurry my pace when I saw the house. In five minutes time I had reached what could be considered their yard, though there was no land division between it and the countryside.
Extending my hand to knock on the door, I stopped, and slowly put my knuckles against the old white wood.
I had somehow forgotten that my armhair was white.
Whiskers chased up the digits of my right hand. My hair was white. My hat was out of style, yet another casualty of being a packrat. My suitcases felt heavier in my hands than they should. There were too many things.
I realized that knocking would, for once, be inappropriate. As my hand moved down the door, I slid my fingers around the knob, turning it slowly. The door opened loudly, its age greeting my own, and I looked inside.
Nicole was at a stove, and I wondered why I hadn't smelled anything before when a blast of breakfast scents-teas, sausage, potatoes-filled my mind. Inadvertently my tongue licked my lips.
"My sentiments exactly," Nicole said. Footsteps reached my ears and Anna came into view. It was just like I'd hoped I'd imagine it, though I never let myself. The second I did it wouldn't happen. That's just how they were.
"You look well traveled. And I hope well-versed too," Anna said, her warm eyes registering my changes. The hair, the bags. Not the hat.
"I hope so too. Or else this whole wayward traveler thing will have been massively unprofitable."
"Ever the economist," her eyes closed as she savored the smells that had overwhelmed me earlier. Anna had last known me as an economist. As the late Kurt Vonnegut said of the Bokonist response to what was going through my head: busybusybusy.
"Yea, well. Some things don't shake out I guess." I thought of Marie. I couldn't help it.
"True statement," Nicole said.
"So I assume you are a devout censorship lawyer who would like nothing better than to mute mankind, and Nicole is a devout member of the Church now, right?" I looked from one to the other as I entered the hut.
"Fuck that!" Nicole smiled, "Fuck the apostles, fuck-"
"Pontius Pilot," I interrupted.
"Sedentary rock," I mused. Our histories intermingled in the present, and the words made sense and were all the more delicious knowing that, though everyone in the room knew what they meant, we were the only ones.
I pulled out a chair and sat at the table Anna had moved to. She asked how I'd found them. I told her that they were, in fact, listed in official government publications based on official government surveys that they had officially filled out.
"I guess a better question is why did you find us?" Her voice reflected the waning patience she had for my taste for the literal.
"Marie died," I said, because that as why.
"Who?" Nicole put a plate in front of me, and sat beside Anna, her arm resting on Anna's shoulder.
"I've been on a lot of trains lately, except I took a bus mostly to get here," I added helplessly.
"They have buses that run all the way out here?" Nicole asked.
"She was my daughter. And no. I walked the last few miles."
As quickly as they had followed me into transportation issues, they followed me back, and were silent. Anna reached out and covered my hand with hers. I put the fork, now useless to my trapped hand, down on the dark wood.
"And your wife?"
"Dead. Longer." More silence. I wished I could get to my pen so I could scribble.
"And you thought we could-"
"No no no. No. I just wanted to go somewhere. I've been to a lot of places actually, mostly Europe. I just wanted to see you two. See if you'd made it here like you always planned."
In my course of travel since Marie's death, some of the people who I encounter, when shown how lucky they are, avert their gaze as if ashamed of succeeding. Anna and Nicole keep themselves, and there is a quiet pride in the room. A room they had secured for themselves, god-dammit, come what may, and I love them for it.
My hand is freed, and I finish my breakfast. They show me the best views from the cliffs ("their" cliffs"), and we talk until nightfall. Then Anna goes into another room and returns with some wine. We drink and talk. About college. About families. About man's ability to comprehend, or lack thereof, or degree to which. I mention fluxes, which I know nothing about, and they laugh. Some of the wine has gone to my head, but not like when I was younger, and I know I will be fine when I tell my two friends politely that I cannot spend the night with them, and that leaving at this point is not new to me.
They don't bicker too much, and let me go. I walk up near the cliffs, feeling the drop-off more than seeing it. The sound of the waves and the night together is even more intoxicating than the wine. I take out my pen and a scrap of paper with only a few scribbles on it. I scribble for a while, then turn the piece over.
On the back I write this:
Everything shifts back and forth,
A sensation warmly confusing, like
Darkness inside a house.
This is also flux:
The small noise behind my thoughts,
That grows into a voice and actions and lives,
Diminishing I find gray knuckles and heavy suitcases,
Where am I going?
The voice is a whisper, which is also a flux,
In and out of hearing. In and out of living.
Where am I going?
To the cliffs, and past them,
For the cliffs are not new,
The Darkness that sleeps over the cliffs,
Is not new either, but a vehicle,
To carry me through all night space,
Even perhaps through the darkness of time,
Though I am old, and have had much of that.
I slept, and felt the night move around me and take me far away. It took me to Marie, to Katherine, to my parents. I saw years in one night, and didn't see. I felt very human, but I felt it like a breeze.