Where you were

At a party, some party. My memories have become oddly vague of these moments, which once were so vibrant. Winter, cold outside, warm inside, hot in the living room of some college friend, and I like water winding my way though the crowd searching for the least populated space. Now, that place has become a dark room where spotlights criss-cross to reveal some slivers of detail, an arm draped over a couch, orange carpet, lipstick smudges on the rim of a glasses, a high pitch electronic buzz, only I notice.

In the corner, cigarette smoke hovers over a conversation. You on the floor next to a beanbag chair, posed as if for a magazine of indie rock bands, with your knees to your chest and your arm resting on a friend’s shoulder, you hold a cigarette pointed toward the ceiling. Other faces are the same, occupying space like extras, some wear jackets, ironic t-shirts, spaghetti strapped blouses. I can’t see what I wear can’t even place myself, only I as viewer, the group of people is a photograph, or a slide show with occasional rapid movement. The conversation beneath the haze concerns an invasion, an invasion to keep us safe from all these damn terrorists. Everyone’s laughing and rolling eyes; not you. Spouting begins on the arrogance of Republicans and the ignorance of the general population. Middle America’s strangle hold on the constitution, on the foundation, on the very stars and stripes themselves. They have no clue, they are not so different from whom they perceive to be enemies, “evil-doers”, the others. They are just the same, those are the people making this world such a horrid place to live. At this point I imagine you taking a drag from your cigarette, or exhaling a stream of smoke which dances and twists breaking the cloud above you. You have this look, the sort of look I knew at the time was important, a look most people can’t have and most don’t notice. You start softly and explain, we all have the same verbs, everyone, each and every single one of us, does the same things, we all eat, love, hate, fear. We use the same verbs, it’s only the nouns that change. To be different would take something maybe no one can really understand, to have no self awareness, or to exist in a realm where there are no nouns and no way to do things, there is no other, no language, no absence, no defining boundary. But words are all we know, the only way we know, and as humans we all have the same subject. Our reliance on and/or our need for direct objects makes us prisoners, shackled, we are, we are the same.

I remember a silence or at least a moment where I could identify the source of the electronic din. And I can distinctly remember the smell of the room, of so many bodies together with alcohol, how with each step I feel the shag carpeting crunch like snow. I walk over to the television and turn it off. It would seem fitting to see your reflection, your important look, you with a half cigarette, you framed there, with my fingertips on the glass, but here, as before, I cannot place myself, only, I see a gray screen with shapes melding together, under a thick haze.

Where you were

xstephens

Salt Lake City, United States

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