It snowed today. Not the normal kind of concrete jungle snow; it was a flurry of smaller flakes and they swirled in a way that I’m not used to seeing, as the sound of police sirens and elderly homeless men crying for change and attention rang into my ear.
The constant buzz of the city is something that usually resonates with me but today my thoughts are attempting to focus deeply somewhere else and in a time-transcending, vicarious fashion I stare at my grandfathers old wrist watch. Really the only reason that it’s being chosen is because when I flopped down onto my new twin sized bed, it popped out of the brown duvet that is constantly piled atop. The sudden reappearance of it along with a favorite felt tip pen of mine was not only a reminder that I needed to clean my bed, but also that there are things in this world that are put places haphazardly for so many wonderful reasons.
Its almost as if the center of that watch, with its slow and inevitable ticking hands, holds a fold in time that I have somehow slipped into, and suddenly I’m in my bathtub; my brain is soaking wet and I’m a handful of years younger than I was just a moment ago.
Let me tell you, being ripped two thousand-some-odd miles through space and bushels of years through time is not the most exciting experience physically. Yet here I am. The bath water was once hot but has steamed away to a tepid temperature that I know with all of my lower torso needs to be refreshed. Leaning over the edge of the tub, through the drawn shower curtain, I have a pen and a new composition book turned to the third page. Each of the previous pages is filled with words and as my aged mind takes them in I am gifted with a mindful representation of an amateur pen drawing of words that recalls a false memory of a girl sitting on a set of steps.
Her brown hair falls in straight ribbons down across her face as she leans over, tying a shoe that she bought from the children’s section. In the false memory of the text, I am walking toward her and everything but her gentle blue jeans and Chip and Dale T-shirt is shrouded in a filter that makes all appear to be black and white. I falsely remember being amazed at the appearance of color in my life and how it somehow radiated both a sound and a movement through my brain.
Retracting out from the quasi-realism of the memory in my head and down through the bathtub of my childhood and then forward miles and years to the soft down of my bed, I remember the day, writing that silly little three page string of ideas. Those three pages were a tarnished snowball that I eventually threw out into the deep of cyberspace in the form of this period.
They were for you and for me, the words. They carried the psychiatrist’s couch and not his wallet. In those three pages I didn’t have to say goodbye to you and the love that I had would go on forever, endlessly telling and retelling its own story as loudly or as quietly as it needed to in order to be heard; even long after you and I had drawn our last breaths, be they together or separately. That’s what these words do now, they reach out to every willing ear and spill a tale, staining the off-white cotton shirt of the soul and knowing that there is not enough bleach in the world that would get it out, and who would want to? We know that there are thousands of reasons why we read and anyone who made it this far would know that the majority of those reasons have irreversible repercussions, you simply can’t unread a book, a poem, a sentence. Things stick to your bones and color your soul differently and as a reader you have to simply be brave enough to accept that.
You hope that every time you crack the weary spine of a book, the pages will churn your soul from cream to butter and you will spread across the pancakes of God and be devoured whole, covered in sweetness and riding down the gullet of greatness. However, the world of literature works in mysterious ways and sometimes you are swallowed whole with the orange juice and the oatmeal; other times you are smashed violently onto a smooth rock face that has been slowly broken away at for years and you cling to the surface of the edifice and hope that the next wave will not drag you away. Nearly drowning, clothes soaking with salt water, eyes burning, you work your way through the text and pray for it to soon end, learning thousands of painful survival tactics along the way.