Monday, October 31, 2005

A caustic look at my own self. -OR- "Through the looking glass."

What is it that possesses a man to give up?

What is it that possesses a man to never push, and only pull?

What is it that possesses a man to look through the sparkling glass of the doors, looking in with an expression of exasperation locked upon his face? Why does he only look through, not bothering to look at the sign on the door that says “P U S H”?

I saw this man before me, from this spot that I find myself inside a warmly-tinted coffee shop. I saw him, reflected through the glass, pulling and pulling on the handle that would have easily yielded in the face of a gentle push. He never pushed. He only pulled, and from there he went on to sit outside, scowling and occasionally looking in. His gaze never caught mine, he never saw me watching. But I was watching.

He never pushed. This bothers me.

The man was sitting outside there, keeping himself in the vicinity of the place that he felt had denied him. He sat there and tried to light the cigarette that was precariously dangling on the very edge of his lips. He tried. And tried. And he failed. He failed for quite a while.

The cigarette was held in such a way that made it move around whenever he tried to touch it to flame, to the flame that seemed to scare him ever so slightly when he brought it near his face. But unlike with the door, he kept trying. He tried and failed, and tried and failed. He tried some more. And in the case of his vice, he actually succeeded.

Eventually, the cigarette was lit. Why? Why did this bother me? Why did it amuse me, amuse me in the way that brought forth a short, nervous guffaw? A telling laugh.

As I stared through the window at this man, I then caught a sight of my own face. Reflected in the window. Staring right back at me. And just like that, I knew why.

No. No. No. No. No. No. Say it aint so, say it aint so.

Sorry me, I think it’s so. Sitting within here, amidst these people, I am the very same as that stupid fucker out there. And I’ll be damned if I aint horrified.

As I watched the man fail to enter this place, a person sitting beside me turned to comment on what it was that we were both seeing. But for some reason, I couldn’t hear the words. His mouth moves, yes. Sound emerges, yes. But I cannot make them out. I cannot hear the words. Not three feet away, and still, I cannot hear the words.

I myself am looking through the glass, at the rest of the world.

I brought myself here, to this place of movement, this place of people, because I found myself stewing within my own loneliness. On this All Hallows Eve, I found myself here, I put myself here. Seemed like a good plan.

But instead of doing anything, instead of talking, instead of really thinking, I sat here, trying to read a copy of Sartre’s “The Words,” which didn’t belong to me. Sitting here, doing nothing but watching, passively letting the world go by, watching people live their lives. Watching through the glass, the glass that was both real and imaginary. Watching people live.

I saw people sitting and talking, their faces alight with the joy of the others company, their faces only a hairsbreadth apart, nothing separating them. I couldn’t hear them, but I knew they could understand each others every word.

I saw people outside walking by, their hands gripped together tightly as their fingers swung through the air.

I saw people eating, working, breathing, talking.

And here I still sit, watching it all go by.

I can recall one instance where I was on the train, that damned wonderful Los Angeles Subway that never really goes anywhere. It’s stupid, it really is. But I love it because I love the underground, I cannot help but loving it, when it gives me a taste of that stale, hot air.

I was on the train, staring into the glass. Watching people within that reflection, watching their faces as they had a conversation. A man named Orpheus, talking about politics towards whoever would listen. He was speaking, he was talking, he was, dare I say, connecting with other people. While I merely sat there, staring into the glass, watching the concrete rush by.

Why can I only pull? Why can’t I push, find that glorious forward motion?

As I sat in the coffee shop, someone came up to me with the hopes of clearing me out of my funk. She’s a friend of mine, someone who has become dear to me in only a short while, someone who knows me well enough to count the furrows in my brow.

She asked what was wrong. I told her that I had trapped myself into thinking of glass and metaphors.

She told me to find the door.

It was then that I couldn't tell her what I think that I already knew.

Find the door. If only it were that simple.

For you see, I know where the is door is. The problem is that I’m like that man, the man who was only a joke to me not-so-long ago. I can see the door. But I cannot remember how to open it.

Once, as I was driving home after a fine helping of bulgogi coupled with a generous amount of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, I found myself stopped at a crosswalk while an unsettling amount of club kids walked by.

It was cold that night, the wind rushing through the boulevards, but the people failed to warm themselves up, they just kept walking on, terrible beats grooving in their hearts, wearing skimpy clothing and letting goosebumps raise on their naked shoulders.

I found that I disliked these people. But it was then, in a shocking Murakami-moment, I found something else. A girl. A girl, carefully making her way across the street, passing directly in front of me. She wore casual gray sweatpants, her brown hair waving in a ponytail down her back. In her hands were a large quantity of books, which she took care to avoid dropping as she weaved her way throughout the crowd of those who failed to notice her. Staring at her through the glass of my windshield, I found that I had dubbed her “Studious Jane”. And in that instant, I found that I loved her.

I should have stopped the car. I knew this. I should have turned the corner, double-parked, and ran down the street, feeling the blood course through my ears as I looked for her. She would think I was daft, of this I have no doubt. But it was still what I should have done.

She kept walking. I kept driving.

I saw that door. I knew where it led. And yet I just kept pulling, failing to get the damn thing open.

Why can’t I push?

I can only sit here, succeeding only at my truest vices, at my watching and my writing. Instead of doing what should be done, I sit and I stare.

Watching people hold hands in a picture frame world, while I only tap away at the glass, leaving my fingerprints all over it. But not getting in.


Here I am.

This bothers me.

And so it is that I leave you, giving you nothing more than the words that the immortal Frank Zappa spoke after a touching rendition of The Muffin Man:

Good night Austin Texas, wherever you are.”


Post a Comment

<< Home