- March 24th, 2010
there were moments when you knew for sure that you would never be happy. you thought, "nothing's going to happen this year. ten years, sixty years. that's right. of course." and you felt all those years, there, inside of you, wandering the institutional corridors of your bones, playing ping-pong in the unkempt gameroom of your heart, not keeping score, not even using the paddles--but playing stupidly a kind of handball table hockey. but not even doing that, really. just standing around. all the years, just standing there. waiting to happen.
you thought, "well then..."
and you imagined being dead. you imagined it might be something like a gasp. a normal gasp, but sustained, and forever--and maybe outside of you, sucking at your air, the suffocation and discomfort increasing without end. the mouth-faced animal of death--flying, taking, wanting always more, like something intelligent and sane, but delinquent and two-years-old. the mouth-headed gliding lung of death. "of course," you thought. because these things were possible. they were. there was even a thing called anti-matter, brian knew. and black-matter, which was inivisible. eighty to eighty-five percent of all matter was actually black-matter. brian had read that in a book. there had been an enormous question mark on the opposite page.
for a long time, there was the sensation of life becoming smaller.
life lost gradually the things of itself. the peripheral items wandered amnesiacally off, and then flew away, not amnesic at all, just too optimistic and quixotic to stay. you became meeker and less opinionated through all the small maintenances of yourself--the self-aware, mid-day toothbrushing, the splashless handwashing. and the one eye of your soul--the angrysad cyclops of your soul, with its spiked club, its dark and forsaken cave, its island routine--began to squint, to slowly close.
life became a puny, disassembling thing.
something that needn't be paid any attention to--that you could just leave there.
brian found that he did not need much to get through each day. decent chinese food, a jean rhys novel, iced coffee. that was enough for one day. that was enough for one day. it helped if he stayed in his room and slept more than 14 hours a day, which he did; the peculiar, detached success of being in bed--it was like the padded practice of a thing before the real hurt and triumph of the actual thing.
his fantasies became less masturbatory and more about time-travel and childhood.
he grew content in a leveled and agrarian way, like a grass.
still, though, once, unable to sleep, he had, in one dilapidated night, allowed himself to search out an adult story and buy two porno magazines and some other items. he read them front to back, stopping carefully for the photos. later, he looked in his bathroom mirror, pointed at his reflection, and said "born alone, die alone." he was giddy with shame and despair after that. then he wasn't giddy anymore, and he went to sleep. when he woke up, it was night again. he wrapped the pornography and the other items in three plastic grocery bags, tied it up, put it in a mercer street used books bag, tied that up, carried it six blocks in a direction he hadn't been before, and shoved it in someone's trashcan.
it was important, he knew, not to become one of those irrecoverable persons.
one day he was looking out his window, staring at people who were climbing onto each other's backsides laughing--and he began to think that if he got a job, he could meet people. he seemed to realize this. he needed a job. he needed to join clubs. water polo, yoga, bowling.
in manhattan, he had coffee.
he walked up sixth avenue. he turned toward union square. the streets seemed to have recently been blasted clean. "nice job," brian thought. he was impressed. he felt good. he went through the park, looking and smirking--not in an entirely unfriendly way--at people, and continued uptown.
around 33rd street there was a strip club or something. it had a sexy-lady sticker on the door. it said "live girls." brian thought of maybe going in. maybe not, though. he would no doubt affect gauntness, perversity, desperation, and condescension. the other patrons would somehow affect virtue and dignity, a kind of nordic diplomacy. they would be enterprising and pressed for time.
brian walked into times square.
there was a brazilian steak place here that he liked.
he used to go all the time with chrissy.
he walked back downtown. he didn't feel at all good anymore. "because of the coffee," he thought. the caffeine was no longer doing what it would do. he sat in washington square park. he had never liked chrissy, he guessed. had never really liked anyone, probably. "that's it," he thought. his shoulders and neck were cramped from trying too hard for good posture, which he knew was important for confidence, bones, self-esteem, mood, attractiveness, etc. a young man wanted to sell brian some drugs. brian shook his head, and looked at the ground. the young man stayed to talk. he sat. he made some distinctions between psychologists and psychiatrists, and then complimented brian's teeth. "he says that to everyone," brian thought. next, your teeth would be pulverized into a fine powder. "thank you," brian said, and the young man left.
it had become very dark outside.
brian stood and walked in some vague direction, into a bookstore.
he moved himself around the aisles. he tried not to look too lonely. he opened a book but could not concentrate. everyone else, he felt, was one a choicer plane of existence. everyone else, he felt, was on a choicer plane of existence. they all seemed very confident that the world was a good and auspicious place. brian's face had gone hot and severe. the clam-meat of his face. people could see. his neck tremored a little. that kind of inchoate weeping that would always happen to him if he stayed in public too long, it happened now.
"this is... unreasonable," he thought.
he bought and ate a cookie the size of his hand. he felt like vomiting. he went into the city. it seemed louder than before. trucks the size of small buildings were coming down the street. a team of men were jackhammering the street. there was a group of drunken people with glossy heads.
brian walked slowly around, then came to a stop. his mind went blank. time moved around him, like a crowd. "walk," he thought. "move, go...."
he thought that he would see a movie, then.
he bought a ticket for 12:45 a.m. ad the union square theatre. he had one hour. he walked in a direction, but saw an acquaintance across the street and turned and walked in another direction.
from a deli, he bought a 16 oz. beer and a soy drink that was also a tea drink.
outside, he made sure to look far into the distance. if an acquaintance confronted him, started questioning him, he would have no choice but to run away. he sat in a dark area of union square park.
he drank his tea drink.
he looked absently at the label. "2000% vitamin c," it said.
in the movie theatre, there were a few other solitary people. some had a kind of space-time enlightened gaze, a beatific vacancy about their eyes that made them look very confident, but in a bionic way, as if they were truly--scientifically--simultaneously in the future, at home, eating something with a large spoon. after each blink their focus would be on a different area outside of their heads. they looked as if under attack, which was because they felt as if under attack.
brian went into the bathroom and stood in a stall.
he locked the door. he took his beer out of his bag, looked at his beer, put his beer back in his beer bag. he stood there until a few minutes past the start-time of the movie. he splashed water to his face, left the bathroom, went into the theatre, and sat in the back row.
after a while, he took his beer out of his bag and opened it. the beer said, "kushchhhch." it was tall, silvery, and cold. on the screen, a beautiful girl who was natalie portman was taking an aggressive interest in a depressed, monotone man whose mother had recently passed away.
brian almost shouted, "bullshit," but was unable to control himself.
"my hair is blowing in the wind," said natalie portman, whose name was sam.
brian began to think, "if i were as beautiful as her..." he stopped himself and drank his beer. his face soon became warm. there was an asphyxiative pleasure to it, like a kind of choking or crying. his heart was beating fast. the movie was wide and calm on the screen. cool air was coming down. brian leaned back into his seat and put his feet up. there were moments when you were not afraid of anything anymore. these moments it became clear that all things were arbitrary, that everything was just made of atoms, or whatever, and therefore everything was, firstly, one same, connected thing, a kind of amorphous mass wherein areas of consciousness moved from place to same place--or maybe did not move, but, because all places were the same, were just there. guilt, fear, meaning, love, loneliness, death. those words, you realized, were all the same. everything was all the same. there was what there was, and that was all there was; there was you, and you were everything. those moments would last seconds, minutes, or maybe an hour, and they were euphoric. they could happen from reading, looking at a painting, from music--from any kind of art, really, or from witnessing or experiencing something startling or strange; but never from other people. these moments you could almost cry. life was simply, obviously, and beautifully meaningless.
brian in the theatre that night, drinking beer, felt this.
these moments would end, though, when you realized that all that amorphous mass stuff was, well--bullshit. was good on paper, maybe, but in real life was impossible. unbelievable. something only a philosopher, a paid one--a philosopher that received cash for what he or she did--would benefit from. things weren't connected, not really. you were one person alive and your brain was encased inside a skill. there were other people out there. it took an effort to be connected. some people were better at it than others. some people were bad at it. some people were so bad at it that they gave up.