2014. jason albus photography.
what was that about a blink of an eye they warned you about? they said, ‘be careful, before you know it, you’ll be an adult. then you’ll have kids. then you’ll be wondering where all that time went. in the blink of an eye.’
lots of things happen in blinks of an eye:
lots of people die in the blink of an eye. you can fall in love. you can fall out of love just as fast. in the blink of an eye.
in the blink of an eye you can crash your car into a pole, or someone else, and change both of you forever. in the blink of an eye, time can play tricks on you. physics tells us that as time stretches further and further it slows down. the first few billionths of a second on the universe lasted much longer than any of our lives. the opposite is true for ourselves: the more we live, the more time speeds up for us. when we were young, we could blink our eyes as much as we pleased and nothing much happened. we practically begged for it to speed up; to get to the good parts.
now we blink our eyes and when we open them we have moved out of our college apartments filled with empty bottles and we have moved in with our girlfriend. she has a little dog named screech. when we blink next we have a child. the next we are in an airstream over looking the grand canyon with a wife who resembles the person you met in that bar vaguely, but she is still the most beautiful person you could imagine yourself standing next to.
and soon we are afraid to blink because we’re scared of what we might open our eyes to see next. we’re afraid to let our time go.
but time doesn’t wait for our blinks. it moves through us, it keeps on stretching and we keep trying to hold on.
pee along the side of an interstate. go to new orleans. put another picture of your naked body on the internet with your face exposed. stalk a random stranger for a few days. trespass. find something old and broken and fix it or make it beautiful again. fuck someone you love without a condom or birth control and secretly wonder what it would be like to have a baby. visit a graveyard, the oldest one in your town; find the oldest grave. put something there. say the name on the grave out loud. remember the name of a kid in your class who died when you were growing up. remember something you did together.
(me, it was luke heltemus. he was one of them, anyway. he died of a brain aneurism in high school, over summer break, while i was in cape cod, mass, my mother told me, because his mother had called her to tell her. he played right field and he was always smiling. he would have grown up to be a pretty decent man, because he was decent in high school, where it’s so easy to be mean and awful. but he never was. not once.
we played baseball together. when i go home, i think i’ll leave something there for him. because i didn’t get to go to his funeral. because i never went to his grave because for so long i was always afraid of death. i think i will leave him a baseball.)
he was attracted to the impossible ones. the broken ones who didn’t want to be fixed. he liked looking at stars because they reminded him that everything was temporary.
"she was my home. the little cove, hundreds of miles up the river that i would always return to, by instinct, no matter what else happened to us in between. there would be other loves and other lovers, secrets, things neither of us needed to know about the time in between; but she was always where i found myself when everything else had turned, gone rotten. she didn’t feel like home; she was it.”
he said, “i’m picturing you right now, in this coffeeshop with me. you’re naked. on this table right next to me.”
go on, you said, pushing words into your phone. cleaning someone else’s house while you read words and pushed words into your phone.
"people are whispering. a few of them are giggling. one looks like a tourist, because he has a shirt on that says ‘idaho’. only a person from idaho would wear a shirt that says ‘idaho’, unless you’re a hipster, but this guy didn’t look like a hipster. he was looking in a way that only a tourist looks at things, like they’re not really there, you know, like they’re just a silent observer of another world. another looks like a teenage girl. she is texting her friend. and giggling. she’s trying to take a picture without us noticing, but we both notice. there is a man sweeping around you. you’re still naked. you’re not touching yourself or anything lewd. you’re just in this coffeeshop, naked, on the table next to me. you ask me for a vanilla soy latte. iced."
"how long do we stay?"
"i don’t know. hours. until they close. you started shaving your legs at the table, because you said they looked stubbly."
"right there, in the coffeeshop?"
"you are telling me about your day. you’re telling me about our future kids. you’re telling me about our wedding. you’re shaving your pussy now, matter-of-factly, into a little black strip above your pink lips. you’re talking about a girl you knew in high school who died of lukemia."
"do i look sad?"
"you do. kind of."
"what happens then?"
"a crowd has gathered around. the coffeeshop is completely packed. everyone is talking loudly over each other. you’re getting angry. you’re still shaving. you’re still completely naked."
"why don’t you fuck me? in front of everyone."
"i don’t know, really. i guess i don’t want to ruin it. i want it to last."