What constitutes a "fucked-up life event?" Not something good or bad; just something that mixes who you were with who you’re going to be, and for an instant you sort of catch yourself moving from one state to the next. What is that? Maybe it’s when you’re old and feel yourself slipping via some portal running one-way out of your brain; the first moment you can’t remember what you just said, or if you told this person that story already. Maybe some thing (one) came along and changed everything. You could sense it the moment it happened. Or you dropped something. You looked everywhere for it. Then you found it. No, no, it was when you caught your breath in your throat and thought you hadn’t ever felt this way before. Or you woke up before knowing where you were. But it might have been the pain (or the insatiable peace, or joy); so immense you could hold it in your hand but not put it down. Could it be knowing exactly what to do but being paralyzed to actually do it? I think someone told me that—the paralysis of an arresting moment— is the root of every fucked-up life event. But they may have been wrong.
Series and series of these life events, averted adventures, stumblings of feet. Growls and snarls. Birthday parties, summertime, more dead Iraqis, clown school, prison sentences for white-collar criminals, backyard soccer games on dewy grass, political debates, manicures, and bridal veils. The scent of that person on your clothes. Baby starlings. Intuition. Somehow it all fits in. And somehow, the hardest things are also the most obvious.
We sat there and smiled and laughed and admitted we haven’t a clue what we’re doing or what solution makes sense (more maraschino cherry paste). Maybe I can find a way to be flattered by that. Or moved. I curled my toes. The wallpaper faded; my eyelashes were already sore from blinking. Then I sipped at my beer, concealed in a coozie fashioned out of a dirty sock.
The trick, she told herself, wasn’t to forget all at once.
It’s simply a matter of finding something every few minutes
That’s more distracting.
Remember, she said:
But sometimes it’s just a matter of walking through a carnival after dark with some friends, eating zeppolis and gambling. Or running through a house of mirrors, then riding unsafe carny rides; arms in the air; tears from laughter sticking hard against my cheeks. Maybe it’s then, in those moments, I’m the most like who I want to be—some girl spinning around with the wind in her face, laughing hard with the blurry world going by.
But still; it was out of the bus station that I walked—not toward it. Can this possibly be real life?