Wednesday, March 22, 2017


It may very well be the sort of psychological distortion that occurs in a perfectly explicable, neuro-scientific way—that process can give meaning to some people. I don’t' like to generalize too much, but it seems that 'scientifically' oriented people—who place a great deal of uncritical faith in the conceptual foundations of science—are suited to their own explanations.

I envy them this surety, even while they scoff at me and my philosophy.

A case in point. There is A Certain Place I had not been frequenting. Not because the coffee wasn't good. Not because of the ambiance or other patronage and certainly not because of the staff… well, that's not entirely true. Through no fault of his own, one of the baristas there served as an unwitting locus of my own associative engine and concomitant romantic stupidity. In short, the sight of Andrew's smile alone could conjure continents of a life together that simply wasn't.

To whit, I am sure a neuroscientist could explain the entire chemical process—since I am only machine—but that doesn't help me with any meaning, which Andrew's smile seemed to suggest in an orgy of aesthetic detail.

When I found out he was dating someone it came as relief. I felt free of the possibility of love. Not asking me out because he is dating someone is acceptable, I thought. I realized that my conclusion of him not asking me out because I am older and unattractive to him had become a wearisome burden.

Today—making sure he wasn't there—I went in. I chatted with another fellow, who, I realize is an equal to Andrew in terms of… what I fancy. And then some. Somehow, the daily trivia question fell to books. I am terrible with things like statistics and sports, but fiction I am good with, but today the question was something about Jonathan Franzen so I was left in the dark.

"You should have something else. May I make a suggestion?" I said. The day was slow, so we could chat.
"Certainly, what would you put down?' Carlos asked.
"'Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buenida remembered'... what…? "
"that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. " Carlos replied. 
My heart did not skip. It fell flat on its face and then slid off the mountain. My head was dizzy and I swelled tight in certain places… a phrase I stumble over not from prudery but from long absence of such feelings.

Andrew had never said anything like that.

It will be a relief when neuroscience can explain why the vast timescapes of dream can occur within mere seconds. The first dates, sharing the fried squid in Chinatown, the confession of deep regrets and the validation that life continues in ways we couldn't understand even yesterday and how the hair grew on his knee because it is bare in the morning and the sheets are crisp blue linen, and which of us would die first in old age when this fire was a pleasant memory if not already lost in oblivion. In short, the dream of life.

From one line of Marquez. But...

Dear Gods, read it if you haven't already.*
How could I be sure? It is a lovely dream. But my life feels more like One Hundred Years of Solitude. The poetic irony of the title, my fantasy, my conversation, Carlos, his dark hair and eyes that reflected more than the grey sun of Seattle—it jumbles together suggesting meaning.

But the meaning is like a cat that does not want to be picked up. I am making a novel, a dream of something that doesn't exist. This one line of Marquez, as suggestive as it seems, may not mean anything.

I breathe easier (the flow of hormones and transmitters are subsiding, but still offering no meaning), take my coffee and sit down.

And there is that other man again. A slightly younger guy who lives near me, or must. He is sitting over there, wearing headphones and is intently listening to music on his phone. He has a magazine about salmon fishing. I've seen him here before. From a distance, I used to confused him with Andrew, but this guy is shorter, more furtive. He drinks drip coffee too, and glances at me. There is a hint of smile. He seems perfectly nice, which is of course a problem.

I stew on this a while, and get lost in composing this post. Maybe neuroscience will allow me to take some sort of exorbitantly priced pharmaceutical that will allow me to fall in love with the right man. Even feel a sense of meaning. Perhaps.

*cover art from One Hundred Years of Solitude copyright Harper Collins, provided here as a link to the book's Indiebound page.

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