the pleasure comes not from choosing, but from being able to choose, from collecting the pieces and setting them next to each other, forming an equivalence between them. it's the pleasure of ambiguity: that one may multiply truth and have it resonate.
you allow your indifference to simmer. a colleague began talking about a memorial, the first of a series of memorials, and began to talk about honor, and struggle, and patriotism. but you could barely let him finish. the deaths were catastrophic, sudden, and without struggle. the act was one of cowards, the weapons quotidian democratic machines, and the emotion felt was not heroic but the sadness of not having been able to fight back, the false fear that we were cowards for not being able to prevent it. there is no terror, only a long anger born from frustration. there is certainly a way to memorialize that would be different than the commemoration of a war. but the debate would heighten, and your ambivalence to one solution concealed the fact that you were suggesting alternatives, alternatives that your colleague would be better suited to discover for himself.
the indifference, passionately cultivated, even allows for ideas beyond hubris. it makes you give, and it is this giving that keeps you in love. there are so many loves, so many people who are yours forever, that you can simply hold them all close to you, and give them as much as they will receive. over time, the loves connect, like a constellation of multiple brights, and the figure spawns myths, because it looks like something you might call your life. it's your one true love at the moment, the one you're willing to believe in.
some prefer to have answers, a single line of truth. some prefer find many, parallel, non-intersecting truths, skew, and are content with the resulting ambiguity, because it means there are overlapping joys in the world, multiple horizons that flow the same direction, all under the same light, sometimes crossing each other but only because they are collapsed by perspective.
another conversation floated to the top of the sensations, over the salty barky musk skin accrues from the day at the beach, over the ache in forearms from a beach sport, over aching feet, over the lingering sadness of leaving friends, over the anxious sadness of distant loves, over the the intrusive brightness of a long nighttime LIRR train, over the aches of creative projects left unmade.
an old man was mumbling. his back was to you, and you could not hear what he was saying. he was speaking fast, senile rhythms that were unintelligible except to the daughter sitting across from him. she was facing your direction, and her words were very clear:
"papa, i didn't STEAL from you!" she was your age. she was rough.
reply from papa. he had a perfect hat, and a perfect suit. but two different, bright, colors.
"i said ronnie may have grabbed it and brought it with him. don't say i STOLE from you! don't ever say i stole from you!" this last she said many times.
"don't ever say i STOLE from you!"
she was disturbing you: you smelled good, your hurting forearms echoed the fact that you had revealed that you are secretly an above-average athlete, the feet that you can jump and run, the lingering sadness that you have friends, the anxious sadness that you have loves, the brightness that you anticipate good dreams if you were able to fall asleep, the creative ache that there are more ideas in the air than you have time for. but her repetition of this line, an unnatural one if you were to continue believing that she was simply insouciant, demanded to be listened to more carefully. her voice never got louder, loud enough to make one believe she was angry, or unreasonably violent. it was the repetition alone that had gathered attention.
"papa, don't ever say i STOLE from you!" many times, no matter what he said.
it emerged. she was pleading with him. she wasn't shouting him down, not drowning him out with volume or threat. she was asking him to believe her, fully uncertain that he would acquiesce, a judgment based on long years of difficulty together. there was a past: she had never stolen before, but other transgressions of a different kind gave him reason to believe she might steal. she shocked that he would not believe she could have one weakness but not another.
she was pleading for the multiple truths. he was insisting on one.
he stopped replying at some point. she was on automatic for a while, but quieted herself.
quietly. "papa you know i love you."
sometimes, however, you're not thinking about them.
you're thinking about how the air smells like nothing but corn flowering. fields of corn surrounding you, like fragrant walls in an outdoor pen, narrowing the expanse enough so you may perceive how infinite it all seems.
and others, some of them, love you dearly, even when you're lost in this reverie. you're always lost in a reverie. you see a rural place where your mother was a child, and where she went to school, and there is a room of ancient photographs that she, her sisters, and her mother are all in, as children, and it's full of all the distant family names you've ever heard. surrounding you are the people who were those children. yet the scarcity of children here today creates another dissonance, the absence of any youth where so much innocence grows. only one of their children is here today, and he is you, under a tent playing bingo on your thirty-first birthday, with fifty year old paper cards, hardly a child yet the only one here close to that age. again, you should have children, but you do not. the others, some of them, believe you should not be here at all, and shock you with an opposite observation when they wonder aloud how you must find this all so oppressively mundane. they cannot believe you find it so gorgeously mundane, like speaking with nature, the kind of unspoken talking you do with the man you love.
you know what kind of beans are in the low fields. you know the difference between fields that have field corn and those that have pop corn and those that have sweet corn. you know that fields with vines have pickles, or watermelon, or squash, or tomatoes. somehow the knowledge was passed on, subcutaneously through Time Spent, and now it is something that is known to you. but not everyone has been taught these things: when you least expected it, someone asked you what kind of beans were out there.
this speaking flows to you, like electricity from an outlet flows into a device, silently, perfectly, instantly. the speaking is around you, and it submerges you in the air full of the scent of corn flower, like a radio is submerged in signal, always receiving something in north america.
because of this communication, you are made to dream of so many things, because of the scented air, because of silence, because of the whispering wind, because of nothing to do. you dream of the farmhouse attic, and the attic off of that, and a carpeted staircase that exists as perfectly when you are sleeping as when you are awake, the honey doors, the stale chest, the lawn outside, a windstorm, a darkening sky, you looking at the weather and thinking this is not right, this is not right and the air advances, whines like a machine, and suddenly a pair of crashing fighter jets, the horizon replaced by an advancing cloud of fire and smoke, and you know what to do, because this has happened to you once before and you won't let it hurt your family, you don't stand around you shout for them to run when the explosion continues your way, you get your family to get out of there, your anxious mother by a pond, crying and somehow in her twenties.
yet, the dream makes you know you are alive, and you awake to advance your misunderstandings some more, catapult yourself into their midst, and take them over in turn, both sides of a story, encouraging you to uncover the multiples of contradictory truth that surround you, the bingo, the air, the others in the dream, and in turn choose among them.
ps all work in this domain is copyright chad the minx.