Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Waiting is a Ghost

Essay in Embryo #2

What does a sound bring?

A train belches its horn in the distance--sometimes it stutters like a jazz trumpet, and other times it's an elongated haunting breath. During the latter, N says, "It sounds like they're trying to warn someone."

The wind-stuffed shifting of air that breezes through my apartment as a car goes by, in one ear, out the other, always makes me get up and run to the window. Many cars slow down when they reach my apartment. Sometimes it is N or a neighbor returning home. Most of the time it is not. The sluggish cars always do the same thing: hug the right side of the one-way street as if avoiding an invisible accident, then proceed slowly, one eye on the road, the other on the river further to the right. "What are you waiting for," I think, oftentimes out loud.

What am I waiting for? I check email--all three addresses--almost as often as I blink, the understanding being that one of these times, the big news will arrive, the unflappable validation that I'm living correctly, and here's the means to continue doing what you love, and yes, your existence is progressing the existence of others!

Each time that specific email does not show up in bold, I wince a little, as if it was a complete surprise I didn't win the Life Lottery again, and I start trying to fill my time so that I can check again in ten minutes.

But waiting is the ghost of a verb--the ing suffix suggesting there's movement when in fact it's an endless circling of piles of tiny breaking hearts. It's a myth that life is just a waiting game; that there is a natural narrative arc to our span, and we've all got a crescendo in us, even if it ends as a tragedy or a denoument. But even if that was true--that our lives were as cleanly marked as the human invention of narrative--then waiting would be a vehicle carrying us away from that story, and we'd keep leaning forward towards the driver, asking, how long, how long, please say not long now, just you wait.

1 comment:

  1. (N speaking): "it's true. they do slow down. why?"