Vertical DesertSo if we're going to view the creative process as a scrapbook, gathering that patchwork of images and emotions until a coherent narrative presents itself, the last few months have unfortunately not yielded a depth of content. Instead, there are repeated images, repeated themes that fill page after page.
The first seems to be an extension of prior narratives about the loner and the desert. It begins with a ground-level tracking shot, the wheels of some old 70s car stopping. The door opens, and the black shoes that appear stamp the dust, caking the shine of the shoes and the crisp black pants with yellow. It is somewhere in Imperial County, near all the empty houses of the property boom that never appeared. I can feel the starch in the collar, the too cold of the car's AC, the spent freon on one side, and that bone-dry heat on the other. It's gone past not wanting to be here, and more into apathy. It is what it is.
Whereas the first image is bleached of color, harsh, white, the second image is night, dark, cold, damp. It begins in a spartan office at night, moonlight streaming in through the window. The city lights have gone stacatto, flickering. The figure in the office takes his cell phone out of his pocket. The phone flickers with the same pattern of the city lights. A slow smile on his face. The world goes slo mo.
So I stride out into the city. Slowly, the asphalt begins to crack underneath my feet. And the pieces start rising, floating next to me. Small explosions from buildings, and the shrapnel of windows, brick fly out and then slow around me. The white light from the street lamps keep flickering, and just deepen the shadows around me.
A group of men turn around the corner, with bats, with bricks, grin when they see me. The start running, swinging, and I grin back, dodging, twisting. I feel the impact of the back against my ribs, a sharp rabbit punch to the kidneys, but I also feel the satisfying crunch of nose cartilage against my knuckles, the wrenching of someone else's arm from its socket. And eventually, I have the bat in my hands, my tie askew, blood on my lips, but my body isn't the on the ground.
And so I continue this walkabout. And as the streetlamps go off behind me, there's someone walking towards me, grinning too through grime, bruises, dirt, her business suit and pearls askew. Her cell phone is going off in the same stacatto. And as the lights finally go out, we both lean into each other.
And then there are the repeated themes in my dreams. Crossing many bridges. Getting lost. More bridges.
I do get that urge to reconnect, and sometimes my unwillingness to just suffer through a night of clubbing and empty conversation makes me sad. So I try to reconnect with myself instead, put away any thoughts of the law, listen to some Chris Whitley, remind myself of who I am.
I try to tell myself that the river moves forward, and so should I. I think back to one night in the mountains near Lake Tahoe, and actually seeing the Milky Way, or arriving at Yosemite near midnight with the silhouette of El Capitan standing ominous and eternal over the valley. And I pull back, seeing the Earth, further out, past the Kuiper belt, past the Western Spiral Arm, further and further, past the this local supercluster, beyond. This would make most people feel insignificant, but for some reason, it calms me.
It still doesn't calm me enough to stop that feeling though. I can tell myself it's just neurochemicals, or the product of that million year old reptilian part of my brain that the 10,000 year old neo-cortex is losing to. And I still see smiles, faces, memories. And it's tough to simply let it be.
So, tomorrow I'll continue my routine of reading the paper, getting some breakfast, watching a movie. And then I'll start the day after drinking my six cups of coffee, and pound through the week, trying not to let that reptilian part of my brain get away. And sometimes I'll slip, and I'll hear her laugh at quiet times, feel sad.
It is what it is.