Isti Mirant Stella (Dec 20)
These people marvel at a star.
Once along this stretch of road an oil truck bucked and rolled and cut a wide broad swath of fire, it left a black trail in the long yellow grass like the jagged scar of a distant surgery or the internal twisting path of a plunging ranula.
We live lives of parallel existences, delineated not by time but by place. Lives that stop and start and continue by geographical location, and when we come back that version of ourselves picks right up where we left off.
Or maybe that’s just me.
This stretch of road is in the center of the American West but this stretch of road looks just like Iceland. It’s only a matter of time before ugly new developments pop up like mushrooms, because I guess there’s nothing more Western than sprawling outward like some kind of unconsidered fungus.
I’ve ridden this stretch of road a hundred times but I’ve never driven it. I’ve never really driven very far at all.
In the mountain valleys the sun sets at noon.
It’s the end of the year and these are days that I spend very carefully. These are the days that time seems to stop, the only time when the in-between space doesn’t feel like both the sentence and the prison, the only time when the in-between space does exactly what it’s supposed to do. I wish I weren't so easily abstracted and distracted by the whole wide wondering world, but I guess there’s a purpose to the manufacture of noise-cancelling headphones and couches hidden in the corner. I want to be left alone in the half-dark where I can sit in interior corners or hide under tables, but I live in a world of 2600 Kelvin light and voices telling me it’s time to come to dinner. Csikszentmihályi hypothesized that the more time you spend in a creative flow state the happier you’ll be, and I too have felt time disappear in obsessive fixation because as I was told once time doesn’t actually exist for creative people.
But time passes, as it always has.
I am perpetually wiped out by emotion. In these twelve months I have had both my highest highs and my lowest lows to a degree I had not thought possible. You always turn into everything you’ve misunderstood and this year was no exception. I miss riding my clunky silver bike on rainy European mornings more than I can express but at least I learned the allure of alliteration and a lot of other things I have not lost yet.
A year ago everything made so much sense, far more sense than I ever could have expected to deserve. And now nothing makes any sense at all. Maybe someday things will make sense again but as Amélie said, “Times are hard for dreamers.” One can only be disappointed so many times before becoming a preemptively disappointed idealist.
I wanted to write this and say that I was hurt. I wanted to write this and say Look At All These Things I’ve Lost. For four months I gained the whole world but within one week in August I was first more and then less than I have ever been. I never could quite get up after being knocked down but that’s what happens when you spend your entire young life getting good grades at school and then all of a sudden you’re not so good anymore.
This year I was delighted. I was elated, I was giddy, I cried at the sky wondering how things were working out so well, I was overcome.
This year I was broken. I was choking, I was crushed, I cried at the sky wondering how things had gone so very very wrong, I was overcome.
But right now I am none of those things. The sun is down and the air is blue and I am standing at the counter putting the dishes away and for once in my life I feel quiet, I feel quiet, it is the end of the year and I can see things as they are.
I am sad and I may be for a long long time. But I have always said I do not regret a single thing that has happened to me. It’s impossible to feel in the moment but tonight I am full of an undeniable sense of faith and I do not know why. I believe in God and I believe that things make sense to Him even when they do not make sense to me. In these days at the end of the year the air clears and I know I was immeasurably blessed so I will take from it what I can.
My dad stood at the sink tonight holding a bouquet of roses tightly in his fist. He laughed to himself as he cut the stems but did not loosen his grip on the thorns. "Makes me appreciate someone else who dealt with thorns,” he said.
This year I have often thought of the myth of Icarus. Of the dangers of both ambition and mediocrity. Because it never was the sun that killed Icarus. Daedalus warned him of the waves just as much as he warned him of flying too close to the sun. And in the end it was the waves that did him in—
This year I had the chance to fly very high but the waves do not have me yet.