November 9, 2011
November is Quantity Not Quality Month
Self-consciousness is killing me. Funny, because I’ve been writing lately about the joys of early childhood, those first, four-year-old moments of self-recognition where I snapped into the understanding with all of my body that I was me; that there was an I who was the pilot of these arms and legs, and that I would remain me as the days and weeks passed, and that this I would be able to look back, as this I looked forward now, to a time when I was a new, different I. And this was understood not as a series of thoughts or revelations; this was flash-seared into me on a cellular level as I ran downhill towards the house where we lived in Potomac, Maryland, 1973, the pounding of my feet, legs, lungs, heart, ears taking on a dripping fresh wet coat of meaning as I thrust forward, breeze parting and closing around me, zippering through the dimensions. Air in me and out of me; air of me, me of air. Alive.
This is the first moment I knew I would always be able to recall, the first clear sight into the future. Later, when I was six or seven, I decided to prove that I was good at remembering things, so I asked my friend Marcia to give me a number to remember for the rest of my life, and she chose sixteen. For the next few years, I would check with myself every few months to make sure I still remembered, and I did. Sixteen. This proof that memory could abrogate time was the best magic trick I’d ever encountered; it was a step towards the supernatural power I kept hoping was part of my birthright. And now when I think sixteen, I smell chlorine, and feel the stipple of concrete under my feet, and am standing in the sun with my best friend Marcia with a towel around me, and the outdoor furniture is white iron with patches of rust and blue-and-white striped water-resistant pillows that are always just damp enough to leave a wet, squishy triangle on your shorts.
Self-consciousness: Who cares about the fucking pillows? What is anyone to learn about their own life from my description of pillows? How dare I write about some thirty-five year old pillows, when there are astrophysics to be understood, and botany, and microfinance loans to creditable collectives in third world countries (though of course we don’t use that term anymore, “third world,” now it’s the “developing world,” as though any part of our planet is currently doing anything besides falling the fuck apart)? Horrible things! Horrible! Happening right now! Suffering! Slave labor! Conflict minerals! Damp pillows on the pool chairs! Fix it all with words! Make it be better! GLBARGHBLG!
Omfug. Not existentialism AGAIN. MOM, WHY DO WE ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE EXISTENTIALISM EVERY DAY. MOM, PLEASE STOP telling us the story about how you had a revelation when you were two years old playing with your Fisher-Price Busy Bath in the tub, and how you felt your aliveness in a visceral new way that affirmed your you-ness, PLEASE.