Friday, February 22, 2008

Winter's Night

In the dead of winter on a cold cold night I sit in bed, curling in a blanket, my keyboard carefully balanced on my knees. In front of me is the accumulation of all that I am—my writings, my friends, my hopes and dreams and that impossible connection to the wider world that I cling to with desperation.

I listen to music that’s older than I am and dream of places far away. Gone from here, away from here. My fingers strike the keys in efforts to forge a new life for myself. Each stroke is another link in the chain that will carry me from myself. A shining thread that winds into some unseen but hopefully delivering future.

Now and again there is a flash. A blinking window. I move to it. I really should focus, devote all of my attention to the task at hand. But that has never been my strong point. Instead I look upon this new window, where sits the words of friends I’ve never met and friends who are long gone from here. They reach out to me—across desert, across oceans, across time and circumstance.

I type to them, I reach for them as they reach for me. I shouldn’t. I should cast them aside for my work. For my passions. But what would be the point of achieving my dream if I had nobody to share it with? There is a careful balance that I dance towards and always miss, between the life that I could have and the life that I do have and the extreme and diverse paths that go between the two.

I could be striving for the future, but for a second all I want is humanity that isn’t my own. Someone who understands, someone who I can form that connection with. I give them a piece of myself, and then turn back to my work. I cast nets for words and weave threads of story that will form the fruits that will keep me in my life as I wait on others to reach out again.

A flash. More text. After so many years of this, I live in a world where text is more intimate and familiar than words. Harder, at times, and words are comforting, but I live in text. People I have no face for or sound in my head. They are words. Blue Arial. Mauve Times New Roman. That’s who these people are. I see them as fonts and words that make reality.

I think of what life might be like, if I could reorder it to my will. These people I care about wouldn’t be scattered over the earth. Instead, they would all be together. I would not sit alone and strain to reach them. I would go and be with them and there would be the comfort and healing of company that I will likely never know. Dreams that can never come to pass. Wishful thinking, that I can bring all the threads together into one bright line.

I long to be there. Somewhere. Anywhere but here where all I have is a cold bed and a cold room and a cold machine that serves as my proxy when I want to have a connection with another human being. It is my tool, it is my medium, but sometimes I wish I could pick it up and smash it and never return to it. Empty machines without souls trying to transfer thought and feeling and imagination to someone else who has to try to put it together on the other end.

I can’t take this anymore. I can’t sit here when the world goes on elsewhere. When people I know long for the same thing I do. They sit in empty rooms at unfeeling machines and dream their dreams. I want to reach out and take their hands. I want to tell them in person that it is okay, that I can be there for them. I’m not sure it’s true, but I’m sure that I mean it.

I climb from my bed into cold air. I go outside to the waiting car that is like an icebox. The problem with the dead of winter is it doesn’t pay to undress. I only had to slip on shoes and a coat between my bed and the car. Why is the car colder than the air outside?

I sit there and look at the wheel. A dark round shape coming at me. Tempting me. The key to circles is they never end. I’ve sat here before and stared at this wheel. I will stare at it again.

In my head dance visions of possibilities. I could put in the key and turn up the radio and blow out of here. I could leave all these empty hopes and futile dreams behind. I could make something new. Go somewhere so different where there is light and warmth. Where I could attempt to make a connection that doesn’t require an ISP to be real. I could make a new life. I could try to be a different person. The kind of person who doesn’t have to sit at a computer every night and reach out to people he barely knows in order to find someone who might understand or care.

I take out my keys. I look at the steering wheel. I glance at my watch. It’s nearly midnight. My soul yearns to travel, to eat up long stretches of dark highway on my way to a terrifying experience the likes of which I’ve never had. An adventure. A quest.

But I do work tomorrow. And there are bills to pay. People who expect me. What would I say to those people I left behind if I chased after something new? Would I be able to leave, or would I just bring with me the sense of need. I could be sitting on the beach, taking in sun, and I’ll still be sitting with a laptop in my lap trying to reach out. Trying to form a connection.

I get out of the car and go inside. The people I have been talking to have gone to bed while I was out thinking about leaving my life behind to try to fulfill something in both our lives. I couldn’t tell them, they wouldn’t understand. I bid them good night. I do hope they’ll have one. They all deserve it.

It is a very, very cold night when I ready myself for bed.

1 comment:

Sarah Hurst said...

Just wanted to drop a note to say I found this touching, poignant, and all too close to home.