Jack says, “I’ll meet you on the Empire State,” meaning the top, at a prescribed time, carrying flowers.
“What for?” I ask him, sure we’re past grand gestures which are essentially superficial moves with ulterior motives. We’ve had sex, what more could he want?
“There can be romance in anniversary, in marking pasts, futures, constructing events that mean nothing to people who aren’t us, enacting movies we’ve not seen and ones that we have, sure that our lives are more Tom Hanks Castaway, than Meg Ryan New York. But we’ll try, suggest places in cities spread out on classroom maps, flat, inaccurate. And we won’t make most of them, don’t have the cash or stamina to see the settings of movies, aren’t actors with wages enough to get flowers each time we fuck up. But this, the first, give me it. Meet me. Pretend we think this will last.”
“Okay,” I say but I’m minutes late and he leaves and I list what I’ve stolen in life, from whom, and I figure how to give it back. Starting with Ira.
You can think something’s bullshit and still be a part of it.
You can think something’s bullshit and still want it.
You can think something’s bullshit and still want to be part of it. That’s just modern life.
You’ll examine his hair, try to work out where it’s cut, if he’s seen the same ads on TV, been trying Vidal Sassoon, expensive brands with similar contents, and you think you smell him from where you’re sitting and start panicking, try to take deep breaths but since you met your lungs have been ready for accidental inhalation, and you wonder, “When he’s in my mouth will my backup generators kick in, will I remember to blink and breathe?” and you ache for finding out.
Jack says, “Fairytales are stupid,” and I ask, “This is the first time you’ve thought that?” and Jack says, “No. Maybe. No more so than now anyway,” and I reply, “You only hate the impossibility of them, that life’s not how books are, how films think, how TV shows portray it.” He taps at his phone, the light bleeding like paint on silk, not contained by the constraints we put on it, and I imagine what he’s looking at: Blair’s dress, Chuck’s expression, quotes from both or either of them. When I ask what he’s doing Jack says, “Plato thinks we’re doomed, and we’ll not find what we want, and we’re halves, and our navels are scars the other left.”
“We are?” I ask, knowing he’s not into fatalism, hasn’t been held by a doctrine since he was ten, not consistently anyway. But you always hope, or I do, to be the one to change things. Then hope is erased and the traces left are outlines of altogether different concepts, words from the mouths of people we’ve never met.