We lit a fire on the beach and I loved her the way waves roll in and smoke lures you into visions. Ghosts. Flowing white script. Snowflakes and flowers. Her sex messed hair. And then gone. Makes you wonder about the substance of things. But then I heard the waves. Saw the shadows on her face. How do we so constantly erupt from the dark into light? We looked at the stars, wondered which ones formed what constellations, but didn’t know.
We don’t know much, do we? Or anything? Probably not. Each and every certainty is two, maybe three, questions away from a brick wall. And we, familiar with good old Heisenberg and the superposition of Schrodinger’s weird ass cat, and also too old and divorced and smart to fall in love (it is, after all, only an illusion produced by an above average surge of dopamine through the mesolimbic pathway, no?), once—a year ago today—sat on the stage waiting for the Mountain Goats to play at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix.
But even if we did find all those Bears and Dragons and Dippers, couldn’t we, we wondered, just connect the dots any old way? Hey, look! There’s a coffee mug. And there! It’s a Swiss Army knife. And over there. That’s us, asleep in the morning, entangled.
The cat’s dead. But it’s also alive. Nothing is definite and you can work it all out with elegant equations or just accept the nature of boxes. You want to be my girlfriend? I asked playfully with the edge of a dare on the question. Yeah, I do. She replied, confident, cocky, up for anything. And I will lie and I will cheat on her and she will die too soon of a disease whose early symptoms are headaches, neck pain, and vertigo and all we will ever do is fight and we’ll even fight about fighting and the way you’re supposed to fight and how often we fight and how we don’t fight enough and I will get drunk and I will stay sober and we will light fires on the beach and look at stars and make love in Madrid and we will always find each other exciting and interesting and we will be bored stiff and depend on reality TV to survive and we will get married and we will resist such antiquated notions of enduring union and call each other lover until we’re 92 and we will both die in a car accident on the way to the Art Institute and we will break up and die alone and take new lovers and we will stay together until our pain and rages have chiseled deep wrinkles in our old wise faces and we will both walk slowly and see the bright side and complain a lot because we don’t see or hear so well and I will notice her barely shiver, just slightly, and I will hobble up the stairs and hobble back down again and, gently, carefully, like I’m wrapping a birthday present, drape a green sweater across her shoulders and say There there, chilly girl and all this.
We don’t know what will happen because everything will; it’s all entangled and not yet definite. But here we are, one year later, not with promises or vows, but only this: a willingness to keep opening the box. Look up. What do you see? You can draw anything you want with all those stars.