Hey Infinity is 6 years old now – being just have had a birthday this month. And no, no one sent it or me birthday cake. Yes, we are offended.
This means I created this little space on the internet when I was 20. Back when I wasn’t legally allowed to drink – one year before I bought my first (and only yet) bottle of adorably pink, strawberry Boone’s Farm wine, and tiny rainbow-sprinkled cupcakes for the crazy 21st celebration I had with my friend and her cat. One year after I voted in my first Presidential election, smiling as I colored in the tiny bubble with a pencil to support Barack Obama, thinking to myself that much-younger me would have been shocked to know that my Republican parents’ opinions hadn’t stuck with me to adulthood.
When it was a new infinity and not a 6-year infinity veteran, I ordered some tiny business cards that have the website on one side and “I think you’re beautiful” on the other.The idea was, I am pretty sure, to give those away to people so they knew this place existed, or forcefully leave them on cars, or stick them in random places wherever I found myself – all of which I never did. When they arrived in the mail, I opened my package to find someone else’s cards, listing actual helpful information like a contact email. I emailed the lady, told her I had gotten her cards by mistake, and suggested the following: She would probably get my cards in the mail soon, and when she did, we would swap, and also report the error to the printer, thereby getting another order for free from them. And she agreed! It worked out well in the end. And so, yes, I have two tiny boxes of tiny business cards that I still am planning on someday giving away. Probably. Maybe in 6 more years.
I’ve been thinking about that statement a lot recently. “I think you’re beautiful.” Six years ago, I was infatuated with newness. With people. With places and all that they held. The world was magical to me. I wanted to see all of it. I wanted to tell everyone that they were a beautiful story. I wanted to write them all poems about the sky.
Right now, it is so hard to feel that way. Is it not? There seems to be so much more hatred and violence and sadness and fear and global warming. Our planet is dying, and we are dying, and our teeth are falling out.
I know it is all still there, everything I used to see. I am searching for it, still. I want to feel all of those things again, and just as deeply. It was a wonderful way to be.
There is goodness and beauty. There will be safety and logic. We will keep going, together. Please send cake next year.
Can you hear yourself talking? Sometimes all I hear is the loud noise that comes from your lips. The whining empty words that don’t mean anything, the drift-less thoughts, the sentences just filling up time and space.
I wish I could sing like him. I wish I would take the time to learn how to make music, how to make more beautiful things. I can’t hear myself; I only listen closely to other people. I can hear when you’re not hearing me.
His hair is shorter now and his face is long. I remember the sounds in the room, the stillness of standing alone. My stomach grumbles and she asks me how to make soup. I will dream of it all tonight, music and carving potatoes and sharpening knives in the tiny, dirty kitchen.
When I wake up she is still here. A lot of people have disappeared, somehow. I am grinning and my jaw hurts. He tells me stories about the bay and people who ride bicycles. I imagine all of the roads I will have to drive on between here and there. Where will all of my books go, all of my stories?
I have so much to say, but he is not the one to say it to; I know, I’ve read the list of approved questions and answers. I have met him before over the years, I can see him and hear him well. My guitar is leaning against the wall; it’s ready to go, it’s waiting, too. Beautiful and terrible things and people just want more of everything even if you don’t have any to share.
The conversation goes on without me. He is singing in the background of my head and I’m not paying attention. Are you always this quiet? They ask, they are the same people, I have met them all before, I will meet them all again, I will love them until they don’t say enough.
She is eating a cheese sandwich somewhere on the other side of the world. She finally found a girl who will laugh at her jokes. She speaks softly and wants more for you than what you have. I want to be strong like her someday, I want my strumming hand to be strong, I want him to smile in photographs.
He is a straight boy with dyed black hair and thin lips. He looks like a mass murderer, really, but he’s wonderful. She swears to me she won’t talk to him today, but she does, she does, she does. I send her pictures of flowers and we talk about things that are important and I don’t feel guilty afterward like I’ve done something bad.
It seems like everyone good will end up there with me. You know how to tell the difference by now, don’t you? What good is growing older if we can’t shake their hand and see the outcome? But that is why you and I are not the same, that is why I love the people that I do, that is why you’re staying there and we’re leaving here.
Would you rather live a year in complete darkness or a year with only sunshine? Could anything grow in the dark? How long could we survive?
My friend messages me from the other side of the world and asks for my address. There’s a letter for me there. It flew from America to Asia, and now it’s coming back again. Who is it from? Who do I even know in that state? There’s only one person I’ve written a letter to that lives there. Could it be? The sun shines in me.
Letters are like memories. Even though they’re written down, recorded, we forget them. I have no idea what I wrote in that letter. I don’t remember how long it was. I don’t remember what my handwriting looked like on the outside of the envelope.
Possibility. It’s a seed of unknown origin. Limitless. It could grow forever, into anything. Memories that haven’t been made yet. Words that have been written down but not read.
Balance is important. Half day, half night. Darkness is quiet, terrifying, calm. The sun is blinding but it lets us live, grows us, moves our skin. Balance. Humility and pride. Sadness and joy. Sorrow. Love.
My friend doodles tiny colorful monsters on paper. He paints them, creates them, shares them. Sells them for the big evil dollar. Nails them to trees. Talks about sunshine. Paints happiness on his feet. Looks like joy. The definition of.
I don’t know anyone purposefully living in darkness. But there are a lot of people who don’t have rainbows on their shoes. I’m getting older waiting for this letter to come. Another week or two. When I’m waiting, sitting under the mailbox, I watch my friends go by. They walk past me. Some don’t turn their heads. Some are too far away to see anymore. I wonder why my parents don’t have friends. I wonder why people stop loving each other. It’s not that hard. It’s worse to be alone. It’s harder in the darkness. It’s better to try to keep growing as a person.
I wonder where that slip of paper is. Anticipation. Focus. Mathematics and a brain-powered global positioning system. When? Who? What answers will it have? Did I ask questions? Will anything change? Will there be blinding sunlight in it? Sunglasses shaped like flowers? A thoughtless reply?
I’m thinking about that particular smear of pencil lead on the palm of my writing hand. How I can never paint anything very well at all because I don’t pick up my hand enough. That particular triangle shape of accidental art. But I think I wrote the letter in pen.
Wheels spinning on ground. Planes flying in air, high above us, that we still claim as our own. Not outer space. Travel. Thoughts. Responses. Emotions. Relationships. The final delivery, someone lightly stepping on the brake to insert the letter into my mailbox, months after it was first deposited into one and sent my way. Sent to where I was. Sending to where I am.
It will probably be light out when it arrives. Sun. Shine. Wind. The smell of winter. Cold. Ice on the ground. The feel of it. The corners of such a small, flat thing. Who knows?
I’m not really sure he works. Artists are always like that. Flighty, fluttery. You’re never really sure where they are or what they’re doing. It probably involves paint. Or they have paint on their hands for some reason unknown. There’s no transparent artist. Or anyway, we don’t want there to be. It’s supposed to be dreamy, not, “Yeah guys, actually, so, I work at Pizza Hut most days but then on the weekends I make stuff, or at night, or at 5 AM.”
I picture him with a tiny sketchbook in his hand. I don’t know if this is accurate. But he’s gotta write down these crazy ideas sometime, right? Whatever it is. Some crazy contraption or some terrible poem or some horrific self portrait. I mean, that’s the kind of art I do, so it’s easier to imagine.
Art is really hard. I know it is. Unless you somehow land some cozy job where they pay you to do it because you’re some kind of brilliant mind, and you can prove you are. That’s the hard part. Being loud enough, yelling it where someone important will hear you. Otherwise it’s you in your garage or bedroom or basement grinding, cutting, lazering, gluing, whatever. And then painting, of course. Or you’re on a guitar or piano or saxophone. And your art is music; sketching it in pencil on paper. Bringing it to life not with paint but sound. That’s good stuff. Important. Necessary.
“I don’t care if you’re happy,” he says, wringing his hands in the air. “You shouldn’t be.”
He’s standing in the middle of the busy sidewalk preaching to his date and anyone else who’s listening. I’ve known he exists for less than three minutes and already I’m mesmerized by this weird boy with weird hair who’s wearing a purple polka dot shirt and leather pants.
Fucking art kids, I think, and he continues.
“You’re sitting there on your couch, fat and happy, watching television. You’re with another human who you tolerate enough to spend the rest of your life with. You both have well-paying middle-class jobs that pay your rent bill and your cable. You’re a great, contributing member of society. A well-oiled cog in the machine. You have your purpose. You have your paycheck. You have most of your life mapped out.”
He stops talking and later I find myself in a large room filled completely with fog. There are bright lights in the corners of the room, and everything is white and thick and the room doesn’t feel like a room, and I don’t feel like a person — only a floating, dizzy set of eyes in a world of white and black and flashes of color. And there is no purpose in that room, no ultimate goal; no deep thoughts, and no shallow ones. There is the smell of the fake fog, and the sensation of floating, and two dozen people watching the lights strobe on and off and on. It is simple and beautiful and more compelling than anything I’ve ever seen on T.V. It is strange and wonderful and someone dreamt it up and made it real.
The art kid appears beside me in the white fog in my mind, later. He’s several years older and still stacking things on top of each other, hanging weird things from ceilings, banging things onto and into walls, building robots and talking machines that fly when you whistle “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” in their direction. He struggles to find jobs for himself and doesn’t own a couch or a cat but he’s happy in his own way. People look at him and wonder how he’s done it, wish they could too, whatever it is. They snap pictures with their new iphones and wander back out of the fog to make babies and nest eggs.
“I want you to be happy,” he says, waving the fog out of his face. “You should be.”
It’s different now, a year later, at least for him. He’s taken up watercolor painting and poetry, mixed them together like two paint colors and formed some type of art that’s popular with all people. He’s selling his work online and making enough money to buy extra pairs of weird shoes. He’s thinking about going back to school but he doesn’t know what for yet, doesn’t feel the time has come yet, not yet, not yet. He’s still wearing that same old polka dot shirt, hasn’t found another like it or better. He doesn’t consider himself to be like those people he talked about. He thinks he’s different, he tries to be, although he’s still fighting the pull of “normality” everyday like gravity. It’s hard. But the more he builds and paints and rhymes, the more times he shaves his own hair, the more people who call him “interesting”, the further away from that life he gets. The more foggy it all is. He can’t see those other people anymore, they don’t really exist to him. He lives in another place, another world. No more sidewalk preaching, only painting in cement with colored chalk to make people smile. He wants them to be happy, he says. You should be.