The air is so still and thick I can hardly stand it
Dark thoughts, darker than even Coleridge’s Pains of Sleep can convey. I suppose that’s why I keep writing. I turned off the TV. I keep seeing myself as John Nash as an old man, with all the students laughing at me as I shuffle off to the library. It’s just too scary. It’s warm, in the mid-seventies, and wet. I walk out on the patio and survey the satellite dishes.
Am I really the scholar type? Most people seem to think I am. It doesn’t really seem that way to me. I just see patterns. I always have. When I was in high school, I was in the math club. My strength was figuring out the pattern behind sequences of numbers; I won awards and stuff. Then, in junior college, it was art. Life in Southern California was just so unreal, half the time it seemed like the only way I could make it real was to take pictures of it.
So I did that. Taking pictures, in my rose-colored hindsight, was the only thing that ever really made sense to me. I’d wake up in the middle of the night, and make pictures as the sun came up. It made me feel better. I’d put them up on the walls of my apartments (I always lived alone) and try to figure out what patterns seemed to reoccur in them. I wondered why certain shapes and arrangements were always repeated, over and over, as if I was trying somehow to make them right.
Then I got married. I didn’t take pictures for a long time. It was as if I fell into a vortex, but it was a vortex that pulled me out. It was photographing swirling people on the dance floor. I invented a new way of seeing for myself that broke all those old patterns. But eventually, those patterns got old too.
So I tried to get a life. It didn’t work. Without the affirmation I got from the pictures I used to make (many people love pictures of themselves, especially in California), I had to find it somewhere else. Realizing that I loved art, and I love literature, I thought perhaps if I went back to school I might meet other people who loved these things too. I did, but unfortunately, because somehow in this transition I became “old” to most people, the only ones I could really talk to were my professors. So now, I’m on my way to becoming a professor too.
How did this happen? I was sucked in by the pattern, the patchwork of language that people put together to try to touch one another. It makes people seem more real to me, when I can see how their mind forms thoughts on a page. Without that, people seem all too unreal. People tell me I communicate well. It’s just a habit that comes from seeing patterns, and emulating them.
But what if they aren’t really there? What if the random, dark, existential universe is really all there is? What if I become a guy who talks to people who aren’t there? I’ve seen it happen to close friends. I don’t want to start hating this world so much that I create another one. So I write. And write. And try to think of better things to write for another day.
And now it’s starting to rain. Can things get any more bleak?