Iteration III

The silences

February 8, 2011

It’s like that moment in the morning when you look across the bedroom at the bookshelf that has been there for years, but instead of seeing the shelves and the books and the wooden dolphin you got in Costa Rica when you were eighteen years old, you just see lines and shapes and colors, with no recognition or identification of discrete objects, and then all of a sudden, like one of those optical illusions that seems to rotate in one direction and then the other, it becomes familiar again, and at first you wonder how you could look right at this object you know so well and not really see it, but then throughout the day what you really can’t stop thinking is that maybe that abstract jumble of shapes and colors is the real bookcase, and you have only ever seen it that one time.

Or maybe it’s like the moment just after you think of something really important to say, but when you open your mouth it’s not there, as if you’d never had the thought, and instead of pausing or making an excuse you forge ahead, awkwardly stumbling from one filler word to another until you decide on an anecdote you can pretend you meant to say the whole time, but then half way through your cover story you remember what it was you originally wanted to say, and now you’ve moved the conversation off in a different direction, and you never do manage to get back to it.

It is not like when you expect something to be heavy, and so lift it with much greater force than is actually necessary, though it might be a little like the opposite of that, or like when you are carrying boxes from your storage unit and in the top of one is a white plastic bag of old hemp rope that was left over after you repaired the rope ladder that your great-grandfather made, and every time you take a step you can smell his workshop and the sea, and even though it’s a happy memory you feel immensely sad.

It’s hearing all the silences left when something didn’t have to be said echoed in the silence left when it can’t be.