Pondering today, in the face of the evil in Chechnya (and the evil that got them there, though one does not justify the other — AT, TF, I’m looking at you), the sound and fury coming out of NYC this week, the disgust inspired by the “apology” out of Colorado, whether — counterintuitively — human beings are maybe braver now than they used to be, or expected to be braver.

I’m thinking specifically of terminal illness, of knowing (in a culture that very much wants you to believe that we can research or spend or apply cosmetics or reinvent our way out of ever getting old or confused much less dead) that you’re concluding your run a lot faster than anyone around you expects to.

Personally I’m not troubled anymore by the idea that I won’t be around past some point (because I don’t tend to think it’s as reductionist as that; I’ve never heard of anyone truly going all at once, going past recall and odd coincidence and palpability and the sense in the ones you leave behind that something remains, that some accounting has been taken and yet the books are held open). I am, though, finding myself unnerved today by how fast the years stack up at your back.

This year I’m fourteen years younger than my dad was when he died six years ago. Fourteen years is nothing. I literally have clothes in my closet that are fourteen years old, art-projects-in-progress sitting in my closets fourteen years old, friends with fourteen-year-old children, a fourteen-year-old cat. I can remember the texture of the carpets in the apartment I was renting; I can remember specific, trivial conversations. I can recollect the color of the winter coat I had and what my first housemate used to scent her laundry. It wasn’t a long time ago. Fourteen years is not a terribly long time. But neither is twenty-eight if you look at it that way. My culture has trashed the concept of (and by extension our ability to sense) the eternal, but what am I to do without having A Long Time to fall back on? Today I had cause to Google the terms +internet +”september 17 1994,” and I remember ALL that stuff quite acutely — is that what passes for forever anymore?

As we move, or as I believe us to move, into the eternal Now (and tonight I’m reflecting on something I said to my dad about that, said when he was dying, something fucking cold and self-deluding about not believing there was anything more than what’s here — the single worst thing I think I’ve ever said to anyone, the only thing I’ve ever said that I would absolutely take back if I could, and a complete raft of wrongness besides), everything is alight, everything we’ve been or done, our past arrayed in view and in recall. Tonight, here, fourteen years is dangerously near to hand, and yet six years is infinitely far away.


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