i always compare people to my friends at home. don’t get me wrong, i appreciate everything my friends here have for me and i was love them forever for that; but when you’re spent 7 years with the exact same group of friends it’s hard not to compare. i always wish i was back with them and i was tell people that they’re the ones who get who i really am. but then i facetime a bunch of them tonight while they’re getting ready and i can feel something’s changed. it started with them listening to a completely different type of music to what they used to, then with them having different sayings and conversation topics. i couldn’t help but wonder what they must think of me now? do they think i’ve changed? they didn’t even speak to me for half the time i was on, and sat listening to their conversations. i guess i just thought that time would stand still while i was gone, that they wouldn’t grow up… but they have and now i’m scared that they won’t like me, because i truly haven’t grown up that much. if anything, i feel i’ve just gone backwards. my mind’s a mess. i don’t know who i actually am anymore.
Basically, on nights like this I wear my headphones and listen to slow songs that talk about falling in and out of love. They also talk about walking around, and seeing beauty, and getting high. They’re all terrible, but they’re my favorite things to listen to. See, nights like these for me mean remembering you and your smile and your voice and your face and the way you said my name. Nights like these make me wish that I was lying in your casket next to you for the past 5 months. Nights like this makes me wish I was dead because this place sucks without you. And it makes me sad and angry and guilty and happy that you’re gone. I miss you, W. I really do but you’re not here to be here with me and there’s nothing I can do to change that fact. My tears won’t bring you back magically, and my heart hurting more and more everyday won’t bring you back either. Me acting out won’t, and I wish it would. I want to listen to your voice one more time.
I am not James Bond. Not in this universe, anyway. In this universe, I am walking down a hill with Ben at half past ten in the evening, and I am not James Bond. Perhaps in another reality, I have a licence to kill, but in this one, I don’t even have a licence to drive.
The hill is steep enough that I can feel my jerky movements, am acutely aware that I could topple and fall at any moment. Any fall could be my last, hypothetically speaking. Bones are brittle here. We’re all terminal in every universe, except for the ones in which we’re not. We turn left in a million and we turn right in a million and there are a million others in which we stop moving altogether.
It’s true. It’s physics. Every action that occurs is just one action in an ocean of a thousand. Just because something’s red, doesn’t mean it couldn’t be blue. For every red balloon, there’s a universe where it’s green. For every green balloon, there’s a universe where it’s purple. For every purple balloon, there’s a universe where JFK was never assassinated. The possibilities are infinite. The combinations are more than infinite.
In a parallel universe, I am James Bond.
Ben looks at me, a wrinkle of worry between his brows. I hate it when he worries. I think he hates it, too. I wonder if there’s a version of him that’s as carefree as I’d like him to be, if there’s a Ben Joseph Watkins of 37 Kingfisher Drive who doesn’t spent two hours every morning arranging his cutlery drawer. I think I’d like to meet him.
– Are you all right? he asks. I nod. I briefly wonder if there’s a universe in which nodding means ‘no’.
– Just thinking, I reply tersely, adding the clarification just in case the universe bleeds.
Ben nods slowly, and I find it jarring that his nod might just as well mean ‘no’ as ‘yes’. My blood runs cold. My breath is spectral in the night. A nod is both ‘no’ and ‘yes’. Ben counts his cutlery and he doesn’t care. Ben cares and his cutlery is a mess. The universe is bruised. Parallelisms run like spilled ink. Not spilled milk. There’s no use in crying over spilled milk, except for when there is. There’s a universe where spilled milk is like spilled blood. There’s a universe where spilled blood is like spilled milk, too, although sometimes I think that might be this one.
In a parallel universe, I am James Bond.
– Seems like it was important, he says. I shrug. I know that there’s a version of Ben who doesn’t care. It’s not this version, not this universe, but if the universe is running, then I’d rather not take the chance.
– Not really.
We kick our feet as we walk down the hill, halfway to the bottom now. The incline is gradually steepening. This town is built on the graves of tall men, my father says, and we walk on their bones and ashes. They’re probably still alive somewhere, or perhaps they just didn’t lose. Either way, there’s a version of my town that’s flat. There’s a million universes in which my town doesn’t rise and fall like a breath. There’s a thousand universes in which my town is stagnant and Ben doesn’t care, and there’s a thousand more in which the streets are flat and Ben worries, counts crockery at dusk like he’ll die if he doesn’t. It’s like veins, stretching out into the sinew and leaking all the possibilities that can only happen elsewhere. Here, Ben counts and cares and I don’t have a licence to kill. I don’t have a licence to drive. Perhaps another me is a race car driver. Perhaps another me is James Bond.
– Are you sure you’re OK? Ben asks, eyes narrowed. I don’t know. I always wondered what ‘OK’ actually meant. It must stand for something. Perhaps it doesn’t. I’m not sure. Another me knows, but I don’t. I envy the alternate. I look at Ben. He is small and thin, like a bird, and I wonder if all that counting helps him sleep at night. It doesn’t look like it. He wants to know if I’m OK. He didn’t ask me that elsewhere. Perhaps he asked me about the weather, or about my mother, or about the state of things in South Korea. Perhaps he was silent. It’s cold here and it hurts to speak. Of course, it might be warm elsewhere. Another us is hot. Us is not freezing, chilblains and chapped lips. We are.
I haven’t answered Ben. Somewhere else I might have, but that’s not important here. He looks at me like I’ve vanished, and I clear my throat.
– I’m sure.
I’m sure. In a parallel universe, I am James Bond. In a parallel universe, I have pink hair and six fingers. In another world, I like fish fingers. In a different life, I was born a boy, or perhaps I was born a girl, or something else entirely. A cat, perhaps. This me likes cats.
– You don’t look sure.
Ben still worries and his cutlery is aligned, but a version of Ben didn’t say it. A version of me can ignore it. I can be that version. The universe is bleeding and a nod of the head means ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The hill is getting steeper still. I could fall at the next step. Another me has already fallen at every step.
If me has fallen, then so have I.
The sky is red. A nod of the head means ‘yes’ and ‘no’. In this universe, I am James Bond.
I was walking in a city street on my way to ride a jeep to church around 6pm. My day was so hectic I was not even from home but from my voice rehearsals which I kinda didn’t finish the whole afternoon session cause of I have other place to go. I even had a hard time to ask an excuse from my voice coach for me to go early, but I really have to go to church. I am quite in a hurry I didn’t bother to tie my hair neatly neither put make up on. I am a mess!
More stressing was my mom is like scolding me on text about her laundry left untidy by my younger sister. And I was really annoyed that even those things have to add on the yet chaotic scene of my life! The very reason of me being upset is that I haven’t decided a song yet for the grand finals of a contest I qualified in. I feel so disorganized, bag on one shoulder, phone on the other hand, messy hair, am very confused I just can imagine how horrible my face looks like.
So I crossed the busy street down to the jeep stop area. Walking through the road shoulder, wearing my black floral dress, unaware of the people around me. All the vehicles near me was on halt since they are waiting for the green light to go. Then I heard a voice saying, “Beautiful lady,” the voice was close I have to turn and found a foreigner motorist on a motorbike smiling at me. A mysterious smile that shows adoration and appreciation and respect rather of the typical malicious compliment of a maniac. I looked at him and was like saying are you referring to me? But before I could say a word he said. “Yeah, you. Yes you are beautiful. I’ve been watching you by there. You are really a very beautiful lady.” He said the words clearly and loudly. I was about to say are you nuts? Are you sure? But the traffic lights turned to green and all I had to say was “THANK YOU.”
I continued my walk and was still quite shocked and unsure of what I’ve heard from the nice man. Then a smile curled up my lips. And when it finally sink into me I just wanna giggle among the crowd! Till the time I arrived at church I still can’t get over with it I was still smiling from ear to ear! Its very flattering, whether the man is joking or whatever. The thing about it was that I am a total mess and you will never expect to hear such nice words only from a random person.
And the reason why I am blogging this? It is just nice to know that somebody cares to notice you, even from a stranger. It is because I seldom get praises like that because I am ugly. And funny that some people sees you the amazing way you don’t think yourself could be.
When I was in Kindergarten, we had a giant yellow clock that you could spin the hands on, and we would play a game (if it could be called that) where one student would set a time, and the first person to correctly name that time would win. I was the child who sat in the corner of the benches, picking my fingernails and checking my watch. I was the child who could already tell time. All you had to do was read the numbers off of the digital Scooby Doo wristwatch that I latched on every morning, and unlatched every night… I was more interested in the yellow stained carpet than the yellow painted clock, and who wouldn’t be? I was in Kindergarten, and time was inconsequential. I had all the time in the world.
In first grade, they made me stay inside during Recess, and watch the kids, a year below, spin the blue hands on the big clock face, and they asked me what time it said, and I told them that it didn’t matter what that clock said, because it was wrong. The right time was the time I had drawn with a magic marker on my wrist. It was twelve noon and it would always be twelve noon because that was the time when the sun was the highest and I was my brightest, loudest, and most energetic self. Time froze at noon, and I had more than the rest of the day, more than the rest of my life, to start it up again.
In third grade I slipped my father’s golden faced watch on my wrist and it slipped back off again, and I learned that time was better left lying on the carpet while I was outside feeling the grass underneath my head and gazing at clouds. The digital numbers on my McDonald’s-given Ninja Turtle time-keeper had stopped changing. The battery had run out and I was too busy running out under the rain and under the sun and under the snow to change it.
For my thirteenth birthday my mother gifted me a leather wristwatch with a face just like my long lost friend, the yellow painted blue handed clock that I had spent so many days with. I lost the gift while swimming in the ocean and I cared not to bleed my eyes dry or to cry the ocean larger by mourning. I was in a world of oreo’s and orange juice and time was inconsequential, I had all the time in the world.
When I was sixteen my best friend and I bought matching watches, from the dollar store, with skinny digital readings and timers that didn’t work. I fought her for the purple umbrella when we stepped out into the rain, and she called me childish and walked through the downpour on her own. She blamed me for the water that delved its way into the battery box and for the broken dollar that she threw into the trash an hour after spending it. I found her in school the next day to return her purple umbrella and she reached for it with a hand followed by a wrist with a leather wrist watch, silver hands and roman numerals ticking and tocking and taunting.
That was the day I found out that the watches with faces are for the faceless grown ups. They are for the children that have left childhood behind and thrown their dollar store purchases in the trash and no longer grace the oceans and the grasses and yellow stained carpets. The wearers of watches with faces are the ones who have lost the idea that time is inconsequential, and those that realize they no longer have all the time in the world. Noon comes and noon goes and their hands keep on ticking and tocking away, a faceless man with a yellow faced watch that stops for no one.
A girl sat in a room with an empty chair, pens, and a note book. Her name was Melon, which was an extraordinary for such a cloudy person. Melon was described as plane, and she didn’t care. But, Melon was a quiet girl. She never talked; she never spoke out and never dared. Everyone thought she was quite dim. She was the empty chair at home. Not one person pondered on her existence. It’s just a seat left untouched, but what’s the problem with an empty chair?
Melon was sitting in a room drawing, she didn’t get up, and she didn’t speak hum or sing… she sat. Her pictures were quite extraordinary, compared to her, looking at what she put on that paper made you wonder what was going through her head. Colors flew off the page in all directions, and stories were told at every corner.
As she drew more and more, her mind became a wonder land. She ignored it though, she just didn’t mind. Nothing was odd to her; it was just a small change. Melon looked up from her paper and saw a man sitting in the chair.
“Where did you come from?” she asked not looking at the man’s face.
“I was always her,” he said resting one hand on his chin.
“No you weren’t,” she said setting down the pen, “You just appeared.” Melon hadn’t examined the chair Thorley, but she was for sure it was empty. Unless the man had grown from the size of an ant, there was no man there.
“You’re very dim,” the man said.
“I’ve heard it before,” Mellon snapped. She had already grown annoyed with the man. “Would you mind leaving,” she asked closing the note book.
“Why?” the man said resting his head on the table, “I have fun watching you draw.” Mellon stood up; she did not want the strange man around, but there was nowhere to go. She had escaped the room she dreaded, but was now in a new world, she didn’t know where to go. Melon looked around but all that was there were trees and shrubs. “Do you need help finding where you’re going?” the man asked.
“Yes, but first, where are we?” Melon jolted.
“A land where only few can go,” He said standing up, “and even fewer can leave.”
“Are you saying I’m trapped?” she asked looking back at her empty chair.
“I don’t’ know,” he said scratching his head, “Maybe we can find out,” the man looked at Melon and held his hand out. She grabbed it cautiously, as if taking one of an old friend.
It happened one day, at a crossroads, in the middle of a crowd, people coming and going.
I stopped, blinked: suddently I understood nothing. Nothing, nothing about anything: I did not understand the reasons for things or for people, it was all senseless, absurd. I laughed.
What I found strange at the time was that I had never realized before; that up until then I had accepted everything: traffic lights, cars, posters, uniforms, monuments, things completely detached from any sense of the world, accepted them as if there were some necessity, some chain of cause and effect that bound them together.
Then my laugh died. I blushed, ashamed. I waved to get people’s attention. “Stop a moment!” I shouted, “there is something wrong! Everything is wrong! We are doing the absurdest things. This cannot be the right way. Where can it end?”
People stopped around me, sized me up, curious. I stood there in the middle of them, waving my arms, desparate to explain myself, to have them share the flash of insight that had suddenly enlightened me: and I said nothing. I said nothing because the moment I had raised my arms and opened my mouth, my great revelation had been as it were swallowed up again and the words had come out any old how, on impulse.
”So?” people asked, “what do you mean? Everything is in its place. All is as it should be. Everything is a result of something else. Everything fits in with everything else. We cannot see anything wrong or absurd.”
I stood there, lost, because as I saw it now everything had fallen into place again and everything seemed normal, traffic lights, monuments, uniforms, towerblocks, tramlines, begggards, processions; yet this did not calm me, it tormented me.
“I am sorry,” I said. “Perhaps it was I who was wrong. It seemd that way then. But everything is fine now. I am sorry.” And I made off amid their angry glares.
Yet, even now, every time (and it is often) that I find I do not understand something, then, instincitively, I am filled with the hope that perhaps this will be my moment again, perhaps once again I shall understand nothing, I shall grasp the other knowledge, found and lost in an instant.
Italio Calvino (Numbers in the Dark)