How long would this little bag of food keep? I put it into the trunk,knowing it was cold enough, the milk would probably not spoil overnight. All windows closed, doors locked. Already peed in the bathrooms by the rest stop, if I had to go again I was parked by the trees.The key was getting here when it was dark and parking but not so late as to make one’s arrival super obvious. By now it was almost 10.
I crawled into the backseat from the front of the car rather than getting out and then going in through the back door and lay down as best as I could, shoveling the coats and blankets over, trying to create a kind of nest. The wool blankets seemed to be warmest.Old classic IPOD starting to lose charge but enough for tonight. Looking up on the night sky through the back, I noticed that the huge expanse upon which I was gazing was not static,that much was going on up there. A shooting star, sparkly clusters randomly moving around, the little dipper there was a lot to see.
Never having been, I thought: this is sort of what camping must be like, only not in the car. Then I thought of the dangers of camping and realized, with some smidgen of anxiety, that I had no real weapon. I did have the little throwaway go phone which still had some money on it, but that would be little actual help if something went wrong. No one could see me curled up in the backseat though, and having kept the car somewhat purposefully messy, it didn’t look like there was anything good to steal.
It was a good spot, a road where one could see everything but a road that wasn’t much traveled and yet close enough to where people lived that I could park in such a way that I could pretend that my car was one of theirs. Hiding in plain sight, kind of. Other cars would drive by, but cops were looking for people sitting in their cars- people smoking pot, drinking or making out-the cops didn’t get out and check to see if there was anyone sleeping in the back.
At one point I thought I heard some people walking by, maybe walking their dog. They didn’t notice me, or if they did, they didn’t call the cops.I locked the ipod so the light wouldn’t come on. I fumbled around and found a small water bottle on the floor and took a benadryl. The nights when I was up here I would wake up during the night, a couple because the blankets had become dislodged and it was cold, and once or twice because it was so cramped back there one had to wake up in order to turn a different way. Even for a relatively not-so-big person, these little cars were not made for this. The seat was angled back, so one always felt as if one were sort of rolling towards the trunk. I thought of the people at the RV ‘resort’ and envied them their real beds, their own bathrooms, their mini-fridges. BBQs and their electrical outlets where they could charge their gear.
I hunkered down, opting for bent legs rather than half-sitting and being able to stretch out as I could then better disguise myself as a pile of clothes. I thought of what I might do in the morning, how I would fill my thermos with coffee at the quik-mart, then without using much gas go to a different spot and have a kind of makeshift breakfast in the front seat.I wouldn’t be able to sleep much past the overly-bright dawn. Staying in the backseat until the morning commuters passed was a good idea. If I didn’t drink a lot of water now I wouldn’t have to pee and thus I could stay sort of half-sleep waiting for most of the morning rush to drive by, yet still be out of here before the dog-walkers and joggers started.
There’s not much out here, a long promenade, a peninsula of parking lot, a pier,
People whisking hair out of their mouth, pulling their jackets tighter. A sense of communal amusement and suffering because of the wind, the fog, the bird noise. The door to the cafe has some sort of fan/vacuum that supposedly keeps flies out. It’s loud and evokes a sensation of entering some kind of spaceship, or other controlled environment.
There’s a bunch of older locals sitting in the prime view seats. There’s one table, in the corner for parties of three only, a little sign on the table warns. One of the local fisherman will likely talk to me, start asking questions. This isn’t a great place to hide but it is less noisy than some of the other options, the place with the over-priced framed artsy scenic photos on the wall and a bookshelf of donated books like the 90’s version of ‘PC’s for dummies’,or or ‘Belgium on 20 dollars a day’.
There were places to go, away from here. I use to think about leaving the area mostly be I was still afraid of someone from many years ago-that he might know where I was, yet he suggested in a court document that he did not. If that were true, in between stints in prison he must not have gotten on the internet much. If he didn’t try, that was good. I pictured a dumpy halfway house, then a series of grotty sofas and crash pads-friends of convenience, girlfriends met at 12-step meetings- cigarette butts, old VHS porn tapes, mean dogs, gross pizza, dirty bathrooms. If that had been a lie, that he did not know my whereabouts- he had not bothered me for a very long time. I felt sorry for the latest kid he created but I was secretly relieved he had other irons in the fire.
There were ways out of the enclave, the north way led to more people, people I would not know and lots of them. More public places in which to hide. The south way led to nice outdoor places, places to wander, places where I had purposefully created good memories so I could retrieve and relive them. Places where the new, good memories would then overwrite the bad, or sometimes even rewrite over other good memories, but good ones that only made me miss my previous self, a self so long deceased that it needed other, external yet related memories to help recall.
Remembering and recalling this self-it was like crying- instead of actually crying, what replaced that was simply thinking of crying. Sometimes my gut would tighten up, or my eyes would become hot but nothing else would happen. Or I would make a sound almost like a low howling but nowhere near full-on crying. On rare occasions when I was lucky a few drops of the salt-water would drop without any sound or movement. Why had I lost this ability and why when I did have the ability, it was not the right moment and would almost have to warm up to it? Why was some part of me still annoyingly dead, a sensation or rather a lack thereof I had had since almost losing consciousness (or maybe I did) when I was being strangled a long time ago.
It was a kind of doubt that this life was ‘real’ and instead, it was some kind of parallel universe, some kind of mental/spiritual construction that was believable enough for me to mostly buy the scam. Even though I usually insisted on logic, ever the skeptic, sometimes cynic – this particularly creepy belief didn’t need to make logical sense or need to be proved ‘true’ for the suspicion to be there.
Somehow it was possible in this schema that other people’s reality and lives could be real, yet mine not, even as theirs was in inextricably tied up with mine in their real lives and world. I was haunting my own life. This half-self me was here in the parallel universe, a kind of blade-runnery replicant, the other parts were sort of hovering in the ether of others lives and the original self was back in that apartment, seeing the light start to darken, turn that greenish-grey as if one had stared at a light bulb or the sun yet closing in like the unavoidable tunnel of general anesthesia . Perhaps that was why I was not at all afraid of going under – maybe it somehow took me back to a place I already half was, or that it was ending the thought-noise of one of my divided selves.
And why when it was so hard to cry, how was it that other senses were as active as ever, often times saying what someone else was thinking, thinking of someone and then they would call, being able to see the weakness, darkness and emptiness in others when before I would only see their false construction, their imitation of life. This was not always a gift – sometimes they could ‘tell’ that could see these things. Sometimes the good could tell, sometimes the not-so-good.
Leaving things of this earth, the loss of the ability to cry out loud spooked me. Had I lost this because I had indeed become stronger, or was it actually the opposite- was crying something essential for survival that my old self had needed, but this one did not? If I was still myself, but once or more removed, then where were the other selves? There were times where it seemed I had passed myself on the street, an older self, a younger self. And there were people that seemed like others that I thought I had lost, that were gone for good, that ‘came back’ as new people I was meeting for the first time. Of course I never told them any of this. I wondered if they too also had some of these bizarre feelings or if that was just too ‘out there’ for how they were wired. Hardly anyone understood any of this, and why lose whatever trust and credibility one had to the land of ‘what if-ness’ mixed with total weirdness? No way would I try to foist this stuff upon their hapless selves- if they picked up anything strange, they could tell me or they could blow it off or shrug it off..
I asked one of them, actually one that did not fit into that same creepy schema, someone who was outside of that, asked him what he thought, not quite this kind of thing I am telling you, reader, but the ‘what’s it all for?’ question, the ‘what’s the point? why are we here?’ His take was disappointing: there was no point, there was no purpose, there was nothing after, there was nothing before. I guess he basically thought we were just random muck, mucking around here and there, making new muck, and mucking up what we could and rolling around in the muck whenever we got a chance.
“That’s it, huh? That’s what you really believe?” I think the response wasn’t so much affirmative as it was self-convinced “yep, that’s all there is, that’s it. Why do you waste your time on this crap?” It was as if the very idea of questioning it was irritating in itself to him- but…how could one not ask oneself the big questions?
He was sure that all that all that stuff was crap, just as I was fairly sure it wasn’t. I wondered, had he never had super vivid and realistic yet otherworldly dreams like I had all the time? Did he lack any and all of the ‘extra-senses’ that made going to malls or family reunions unbearable, because of all the things one would mentally ‘pick up’? Maybe it was true. Maybe he had none of those things …so in his reality, all there really was, was food, money, winning and losing, mucking around ,and material stuff-an endless loop of the same thing over and over. No wonder he didn’t even have the possibility that all this had meaning. If one didn’t have legs , one could go on and on about running and they would still never know what that was like. He didn’t take me seriously when I nagged him, maybe you should finish this project, maybe you might want to finish this other thing, while you still could. How could one be so ‘meh’ about everything and still be alive. Perhaps he too was divided and didn’t know it.
But what did I know, I was starting to be convinced it was better to be liked than loved as one didn’t really always choose loving, as in one’s children, you just did it, like breathing- but usually liking was a choice. Someone had decided came to a conclusion that they enjoyed your company, character, personality- whatever- whereas lots of people used the word love in the same sentence as an apology: “I know he drinks, but …I love him” “I love her, so what’s a little lateness?” You didn’t often hear ‘like’ used as either an excuse or disclaimer, used as a kind of tacit apologetic. Usually you heard ‘like’ before something good: “I like that guy; he doesn’t bullshit.” or “she never flakes out, I like that in a person.”
Maybe the selling of the idea that this is all there is and then kaput ,lights out is in someones self interest as a means of distraction. As a means to a kind of ‘theft’-not only distraction but a form of advanced lying/stealing. How different were lying and stealing anyway? Theft of the truth was a lie, wasn’t it? Telling you ‘ Hey look over here, you need to listen to my agenda, I have the answer, don’t look anywhere else, everything else is bullshit, I’m sooo confident, it must be true!’…and the more you gave of your time, of yourself, the more you believed the lies and the ability to get to the truth, that the ability to see the lies was sucked away.
Even if you came away with some grain of truth, you had probably paid for it so dearly you likely would have been better off discovering it on your own. What if you didn’t agree or had questions? Well you were surrounded by so many others who on some level, probably unconsciously, knew that they had so much time stolen already, they felt like they had to commit absolutely and mindlessly to whatever the agenda was. Besides, everyone would turn on the questioner if they called someone out, even if they weren’t called out for the actual belief system that was being hawked, but called out for ‘hey are you getting anything done, is this really good enough for you? ‘
And some people couldn’t take being turned on and questioned -much less ask these things of themselves-especially on the internet. People didn’t enjoy being questioned, hassled or trolled unless they liked just any attention at all, and making a career of trolling was so derivative- you had to start with something someone else did first- it didn’t seem very creative once you dissected the whole premise.
Trolls, while they are hanging out under bridges, don’t usually have epiphanies (well OK maybe even some huge trolls might actually get sick of it, epiphany or not)and ask themselves:
Is this how I want to spend whatever I have left? Maybe believing one’s cause was the only cause worth a crap stopped one from questioning, is this it, is this truly the stopping point- I knew people who couldn’t be wrong, if they were, it would eff up their entire construction of their world.
Others didn’t want questioning because people who were so invested in whatever scheme was their bread and butter. As I told someone once, some people just can’t be wrong. I should have then followed that up with, cause when you are wrong, it’s usually your fault. You’re not only wrong. You’re to Blame. You effed up. Some people can’t get this and every time they know they weren’t wrong, like hmm what side of the street paving will that leaf fall? When they are right, it’s like: YAY I WIN, I WAS RIGHT ! Then they do a little victory dance.
If the leaf didn’t fall on the side they guessed it would be, then it’s ‘oh I was going to guess that other side’, or ‘oh I wrote the wrong side down but I meant this other side’, or ‘oh I was looking in a mirror and so left was right and right was left’…. ‘I was thinking of this side because there was a red fire hydrant and I was distracted and somehow yeah, it was your fault because I would have picked the correct side had you not got me off track, cause you suck’…to them ,being wrong was like some horrible OCD Hydra that would carry down to make spiraling generations of wrongness, like Lake Wobegone in reverse would happen-therefore in their universe, there would not, could not ever be any original wrongness: thought behavior, calculation, beliefs, anything. Being wrong was just too scary and didn’t have any payoff.
They couldn’t afford to be wrong or to say hey people, get a life, do other stuff besides this, put energy into that and what you want will probably happen anyway as a result ..but it sure as hell ain’t gonna happen this way, and oh yeah, duh if the problem got solved, I’d be out of work , my little kingdom would crumble and that would sure blow.
One would think truly feeling one’s own mortality would give one more pause as to what one wasted time on, whether or not one believed in something more. But maybe there was some payoff to getting people to ‘overspend’ their time on whatever the agenda was, even if that way didn’t work and had created it’s own government-like money, time and energy grab program,a life and spirit-sucking machine, not so unlike the official one that people railed about constantly.
After all, time is and would always be the greatest currency there is for mortal flesh. Stealing that was like soul-stealing. The greatest thing that could be stolen, a kind of subtle murder.