Saturday, July 27, 2013

WALKING INTO THE FOG

The fog swallows me as I walk in the pre-dawn darkness, covers me and hugs me close until I become invisible.

I like this, I say to myself, jacking up the music in my earbuds until The 1975 overwhelms even the sound of my own breathing. I listen to the song "Sex" three times in a row and remember hearing it for the first time last fall, back when she turned me on to Of Monsters And Men and I turned her on to The 1975 and Paloma Faith. It was fun and it was good — not all good, clearly, but good enough for the moment. The comfort is cold but I embrace it as I walk deeper into the fog and try to clear my head.

There is something bracing about being outside and alone at four in the morning. This is the hour for nonsensical frolic, the time when society's tight-assed boundaries don't seem to matter. It would make a good defense at a criminal trial: If it please the court, my client is awfully sorry, but you see, judge, it was four in the morning and you know how that goes. Everything seems like a good idea in the middle of the night.

Even my insane thoughts make perfect sense. I don't drunk dial — I haven't had a drop all night — but I think about calling her anyway, just to let her know I haven't been crushed by the Odd Year. Neither one of us would believe the lie but it would give me the chance to hear her voice, or at least her voicemail.

But ... no. We are doing serious work, the two of us. We are rewriting history and that requires dedication and an unwavering focus on ignoring each other and destroying any inconvenient facts that might tie us to the scene of our shared crime.

I don't wonder what she's doing right now because wondering sounds like a passing thought, a here-and-gone musing. She is never gone, not even when I'm elbows-deep in work or play, and certainly not while I'm sleeping. I am a vivid dreamer. She is the star in those dreams. Wonder about her? It's a wonder to think about anything else.

But I do because I have to. The life of the mind cannot overwhelm life. There are newscasts to produce, stories to type, friends to consult, boxes to pack. Mundane they may be, but these facts propel me forward, past the sweeping insensitivity of life. I have resigned myself to the future. It will be great — I will create startling things — and it will be brutal. The achievements will be profound. So will the disappointment in not being able to share those successes with the person who still inspires them.

It matters, but no matter. Not in the hard light of an angry sun, and certainly not in the sweet blindness of the night fog. The disappointment shouldn't exist — it's ridiculous on four or six different levels — but it is a fact I face. No one is better for it. The poet / philosopher Jackson Browne was right: You win, I win, we lose. I hate to lose. I hate that we lost.

The fog grows thicker. The 1975 starts to fade in my ears. I hit replay and turn the music up even louder. And this is how it starts.

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