(But its all over nothing, really)
"I’m trying to distance myself from the idea that youth is the best time of life, because a lot of my friends are really anxious about growing older. I’m studying classical drawing, which helps. It really slows things down. We can work an entire month on a single drawing. And I don’t plan on reaching my peak before the age of fifty."
got back from my trip to new york this morning around 2:00 am. the thing that struck me most was the long drive back with nastassia. streetlamps ceased to exist as soon as we entered pennsylvania, and we were welcomed with relentless darkness. it left me incapable of thinking coherently and muted my cognition. nastassia spoke for miles. she carried the weight of the conversation. she thought, she spoke, she laughed, and told stories. i took in the inky black and submitted to its spell of mental paralysis. i could not motivate intelligence, speulation, analysis reflection, opinion. i tried to respond but failed many times to communicate intelligently. maybe it was the exhaustion of traveling. all i could think about was how awesome the darkness was, how it could take on any form i imagined. or rather how it could be obscuring anything i imagined.
it stretched all around us like a blanet like saran wrap like super elastic bubble plastic fun. there were stained impressions of the hills looming ahead. the ones we were driving toward and into. they had no color and i liked to make them disappear. i listened to nastassia as she talked, spinning stories, making it ever more obvious how different we are, how different the worlds we come from are, how different the worldes we live in are. i surveyed the black atmosphere and pictured flashes of possible scenes.
us in her tiny toy plastic car driving down a road that lay atop a great and tall strip of white rock flanked by cliffs diving into the wide sea below,
great grassy boulders floating above like dirigibles,
us encapsulated in an airy sphere of darkness that moved with us in order to keep us contained,
giant metal oil cranes dipping their beaks into the earth,
…When the Zims left, it was together, Mr. and Mrs. and Carolyn, vanishing in a station wagon while half their furniture still stood on the sidewalk beside the mover’s truck. He had a new job in Cleveland, Ohio. Poor souls, they won’t be missed. But they were. They had sold their half-house to an old couple, strict Methodists, and the old man refused to cut the strip of grass between his house and the Angstroms’. Mr. Zim, who worked outdoors rain or shine on weekends, as if it’s his only pleasure in life and I don’t wonder, had always cut it. The old Methodist cut exactly his half, one swath of a lawnmower, and then pushed his lawnmower back inverted on his own walk, when it would have been just as easy to push it back along the other half of the strip and not leave such a ridiculous job. When I hear that old fool’s wheels rattle along his walk so self-righteously, my blood pressure goes up so I hear my ears pop. Mother refused to let him or his father mow their half for one whole summer, and the grass grew knee-high in that little sunless space and stalks of like wheat came up and one or two goldenrod until a man from the town came around in August and said they must cut it on account of an ordinance; he was sorry. Harry had gone to the door and was saying, Sure, O.K., when Mother came up behind him saying, What did he mean? That was her flowerbed. She had no intention of letting it be destroyed. As her son, Rabbit felt terribly embarrassed. The man just looked at her and got a little thumbed book out of his hip pocket and showed her the ordinance. She still said it was her flowerbed. The man read to her what the fine was and went off the porch. That Saturday when she was in Brewer shopping, Pop got the sickle out of the garage and chopped all the weeds down and Harry pushed the lawnmower back and forth across the stubble until it looked as trim as the Methodist’s half, though browner. He felt guilty doing it, and was frightened of the fight his parents would have when Mother came back. He dreaded their quarrels: when their faces went angry and flat and words flew, it was as if a pane of glass were put in front of him, cutting off air; his strength drained away and he had to go to a far corner of the house. This time there was no fight. His father shocked him by simply lying, and doubled the shock by winking as he did it. He told her the Methodist had at last broken down and cut the strip of grass himself. Mother believed it but wasn’t pleased; she talked all the rest of the day and off and on all week about suing the old holy-roller. In a way she had come to think it was her flowerbed. From cement to cement the strip is not much more than eighteen inches across. Walking along it feels slightly precarious to Harry, like treading the top of a wall.
a guitarist with calves
thanks jing :)) i love your writing too. please write more!!
WOW what could it all meeaann?!
Over the Memorial Day weekend I went on a hike at McConnell’s Mill State Park with Nastassia, Chris Kwan, and some of Nastassia’s friends. Her friends’ enthusiasm for climbing became apparent as soon as we crossed the Monongahela, and during the hike they could hardly pass by a rock without exclaiming about its “jugs” or attempting to climb it. The rest of us would just pause and watch them cling to these formations like taxidermized flying squirrels.
Breaks like these peppered the entire trek, which I realized midway was not the type of hiking offered by Foothills Park or the Stanford Dish trails (seriously questioning my decision to include the Stanford Dish under the noble umbrella of Hiking). The inclines stretched on relentlessly and I found myself sliding down loose dirt and grabbing onto springy tree branches for support more times than any amateur should be allowed before being sent back to wait in the car. But the burgers at the end of our trip were only juicier, hotter, more flavorful and satisfying for it, and the shower I finally took more cleansing and restorative.
Early on we passed by a man who urged us to head toward a nearby waterfall, but his directions turned out to be inaccurate despite his projection of confidence. A helpful kayaker (kayakist? kayakerette? kayakista? ooh kayakista! kayakistadora!!) pointed us in the right direction, which, of course, had us climbing over an aluminum bridge barrier and walking directly alongside the creek that guided the main trail. We processed in single file, with the climbing enthusiasts at the front and I and Chris, a self-proclaimed “virgin hiker”, sticking to the back. We made the obligatoty jokes about Chris liking it from behind. We had a duty to.