Discover more from words from eliza
live breakdown from my hometown
across from the old apartment complex, a single lamp post lights a gazebo. the complex, at the time i was there, housed mostly families and a few couples of young professionals. the kids from the picket fence neighborhood would cut through it to get to the high school, and i would cut through the high school to get back home.
i didn’t have a view of anything in particular from my first-story bedroom. the parking lot. the cars. the mailboxes. the lip of the front stoop, where i’d smoke joints and spliffs and the occasional cigarette. in the mornings, the slam of the front door would reverberate across my room. in the evenings, i’d sneak out from it and bid it the gentlest close as not to wake my father, who knew what i was doing all along and didn’t really care to stop me.
i’d sit in the gazebo, beneath the lamp post.
no woman by whitney. veil by lists. provider by frank ocean. flume by bon iver. silkk da shocka by isaiah rashad. wired headphones (before they were post-ironically cool), hanes XL hoodie (when that was cool), converse (still cool, i think).
on friday nights, i’d sit on the floor of the gazebo with a friend, packing a bowl and reading tarot cards. sometimes we’d sneak out of my bedroom after taking twice the recommended dose of rice krispie edibles, convincing ourselves that the lamp post was the sun, and we were astronauts floating too close.
when i broke up with my high school boyfriend on halloween (time 1/3.. sorry!), the lamp post lit the car. when i drove my first stick-shift, i stalled out three times at the stop sign before dejectedly parking the car and resuming my sobbing on the gazebo’s bench. when i had to call the police on my mother, i couldn’t bear to do it in earshot of my father, and the gazebo heard that too.
just recently i drove past the complex, and saw the lamp post casting its familiar glow, right where i left it.
why is it that a lamp post can make me cry?
just looking at it, i can see everything happening again, all at once. i know in the fourth dimension that’s true - that those moments, this moment, and the moments that have yet to be are all simultaneously occurring. but i’m not up there, i’m down here, watching it all come back to me through my own subjective refractions. every time i think about anything i leave fingerprints on its pure truth. it’s not happening all over again and it never will.
i want to take every memory i’ve ever had and stand in it. i want to feel everything all over again, exactly how it was, for the first time. i want to cry like i did when i was sixteen and have the neurons fire in the same way. i want to live all of my best moments and particularly my worst moments over and over and over again and feel how i did when it happened. i don’t want to peer through the looking glass to recount anything, and i don’t want every recollection to be further from the same truth that i can never return to. i hate experiencing new feelings that are truly old feelings. memory is a slick disc that is actually just a boomerang, and i keep catching it when really i want it to just hit me in the face again.
none of the words i use seem to do the feeling justice, and every time i think they might, the true essence of what i mean slips through my fingers. i can only ever know the truth of this moment, and when the time comes to write it down, the moment has passed and gone with it is its pure distillation. i want to go back to every moment i have ever lived, and i couldn’t even really tell you why.
nostalgia bites at the heel and does not relent. the family dog that died 9 years ago is still a phantom pulling at the leash around your wrist. there was once a pimple you popped in a gas station bathroom at fifteen, and there is still a microscopic tear below the surface of your skin. you can’t fit into your old shoes anymore, and between rubber slats of soles lie hundreds of particles of beloved and intolerable places. you are everywhere. and everywhere you’ve been you can never be, exactly how you were, again.
i know that i am supposed to shoot through time this way, but it seems profoundly unfair. i know that there is an evolved self, within me, who is begging me to release the iron fist i have on every passing second that slides away. i know i have plenty of time, more than i know what to do with, but it is still true that every single waking moment feels precious and confounding to me.
i just wonder what i’m to do with all of it.
for the time being i’ve found solace in being an artist of some sort, though that title makes me feel pretentious and undeserving. i’ve decided to become the five year old with the mason jar, coming down upon any fluttering lightning bug that i don’t want to escape me. people say artists are real and vulnerable and visionary, but i think making art involves a heavy sort of delusion — an attempt to trap an experience, to represent it imperfectly and present it as truth, to document something that can never truly be seen again.
as subjective beings, we have no choice but to live in delusion. and maybe a personal delusion can become truth if that’s our wish. i just can’t bring myself to wish that.