There’s a narrow strip of concrete between the back door and the farthest fence. Veer two feet to the left, and you’re in the bush, veer two feet right and you end up in the pool. On the bad days over the past three weeks when there’s no one else out back, I’ve been using this little track of cement to pace out the things that don’t filter through the whispered, fervent conversation of shared secrets and the cavalier laughter flavoured by one too many pints.
There have been a lot of walks home in the dark.
I haven’t managed a sunrise night yet, but I feel it coming. It’s going to be that one evening where three bleeds into four and the sky turns lilac then pink and your ears are ringing, shirt clingy with sweat, and you can’t feel your feet. One of those things you thought you put to bed a long time ago, but they come back sometimes like some scrap of dream that fades too quickly to really hold onto.
I like how easy it is to find the quiet in all the noise. I like how easy it is to soak through everything with a hard run and the pain of stabbing shins. Feeling like your toes are going to fall off or your lungs are going to explode. Bass pounding through my earbuds. Sore muscles. Bruises. Broken skin. Late nights and sleep deprivation and burnt out taste buds. Lungs that hurt from laughing too hard. Fried chicken picnics in the park and shitty beer. New friends, lost loves, old gods. Passing out on the grass in the sun on the book I intended to read. Peeling skin later. Side hugs and air kisses. 6 a.m. yoga in an apartment that would be better suited as a Bikram studio. Dick jokes. The random dick picture on Friend A’s phone. Friend B documenting the dick picture on Friend A’s phone with a pack of confused faces behind the screen and sending it back to the dick in question. It might be Tuesday or it might be Thursday, but you stop keeping track.
When someone asks you to do something, you implement a rule that unless you have plans, you say, “Yes,” every time. Sometimes, even if you have plans, you do both.
Give more hugs. Tell people they’re special unicorns and that you had The Best Time Ever. Again and again. Take the sweet with the sour and linger in the moments that tremble under your fingertips. Throw wild smiles in crowded bars then disappear before you’re found in the press of bodies. Stand alone in that gallery again in front of that painting, just close enough to see your favourite brush strokes and get annoyed with the improperly placed overhead fluorescents that highlight the technique but not the colour. Dust and lacquer. Marbled flesh. Stirred up thoughts that linger long enough that you can shift them around and see them from a new perspective, just in case there was something you missed the first time. Punch the volume up another two notches and switch tracks.
So, yeah. This is the aftermath. This is the point when you look back and you realize all writers are fucking liars, and you hold that esteemed title too because you were able to use your words for a brief period to avoid that hole you kicked your feet over while sitting on the edge and looking down and telling yourself you’re not going to shove your butt off those three inches and fall. (Though sometimes when you fall, you fly.)
At least, I hope that post was convincing. Words are tricky things. Sometimes you say too much, others the wrong thing, other times they’re elusive. Sometimes they’re so hard to find that you take the easy route; say nothing at all. Even if it means losing a moment or a friend or a future that wicked away in a plume of smoke because you sighed too hard and caught the potential in the gust. Two beats is all it takes, but believe me, thinking it over there’s a whole lot I’d love to cram into the few seconds of strained silence.
Sometimes you just don’t know where to begin. I can’t find them right now — the words — they’re fluttering just out of reach; beating against a lightbulb somewhere in the dark.
I’m not writing, obviously. It’s a bizarre midway edged in reluctance and just a hint of fear, but it gets easier if you shoulder your way through; if you turn the volume up while under the shadows and foliage on those dark streets — those liminal passages that are neither here nor there at three o’clock in the morning.
This is what you do in the in-between places: You live.