Thursday, November 15, 2012

THE ART OF STAYING QUIET


"Have you written a new blog post?" asked Lauren, a colleague at the Paragraph Factory.

I texted back a few words to explain that no, there was nothing new to report, no fresh mutterings from the cynical iconoclast, before diverting the text convo to a discussion about what was in this month's Glamour. That's me — a boy who appreciates the finer things in life.

Truth: there's a lot to write about, but no good and clean and true way to say it, and I try to refrain from inelegant blurting (except when it involves reporters, because sometimes it and profanity are the only languages they understand). There is temptation to unleash a stream of hot consciousness, but such spewing is often misinterpreted and there is no need for collateral damage.

So. Careful is my mantra. I must be careful. The mask must not slip in this happy season. Best to keep it all inside and put on a placid face, exchange small talk and pleasantries with the few people who still populate my little world. They are caught up in their own adventures. They do not need to be distracted, especially by a man who is struggling to stay light as he senses the narrowing of time and the decay of memory.

Things that once seemed bright and fresh have dulled to faint, quaint recollections. It's sweet, in a way. The frantic scrabble to regain what was lost is gone. I have a hard time recalling what I was so terrified of losing, or why it was so devastating to be pushed aside and left alone. Those sharp edges have been dulled smooth. The emotional landscape, once a mountain range of thin-air highs and sharp, stomach-churning drops into the abyss, is now as flat as my affect.

The only time I feel anything even close to flying or falling is when I look at old pictures. So I don't do that anymore. I deny to myself that any of those things ever happened to me. It was all a dream, a couple of years spent in a figurative coma, where feelings were covered in especially vivid hues and I embraced things I had no business believing. Now that I'm awake, if not alert, I display a small smile and say what's expected of me, which is mostly nothing.

I find I do my best around people when I keep my words to a minimum and do not acknowledge anything more than a glancing acquaintance with anyone who used to know me. I acquiesce to a past that keeps me in the present, but only as a secret. To admit otherwise would mean too many questions might be asked; too many uncomfortable truths might have to be told. I wouldn't want to embarrass, or be embarrassed. It kind of hurts to be treated like a leper, but only kind of. I won't fall to pieces, no pun intended.

Ron on the roller coaster, he would have screamed like a panther. Ron in twilight: he doesn't even get mad at being shoved into darkness and told to stay quiet. I've come to like the quiet, you see. Not so long ago I was loud and boisterous and it cost me everything I loved. In the dark quiet of today the word "love" is never used and I don't have to worry about what might happen in the future because the unstated truth is so obvious: there is no future. Much like my memories of the past two years, even the looming odd year seems faint, unreal. And far away, a lonely bell rings.

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