Came home yesterday to find that Leonard had eaten 11 eggs from a carton I left on the counter. He’s never done anything like that before. I think that the sulfur-like emissions coming from the corner of the room last night affected my dreams.
I was visiting B., and she and I went to the hot springs. Not the hot springs there where she lives, but those in the famous photos of the Japanese macaques lounging in the steaming pools, their fur edged with ice.
We got out, dried off, and she left to me go where she needed to go. I stumbled around a bit, feeling abandoned in a foreign country. There was a checkpoint like the one at the hotel in Bangalore. They took the temperature at my wrist, then on my forehead, then my labia. The guard asked me if I was maybe on my period, and I explained that I was through menopause, so: no.
Then menstrual blood began gushing from my vagina. A red fountain that would not stop. Passers-by glanced at me, but it was obviously no big deal. It was life. Or death. Or something in-between.
In Bangalore, it seemed that nothing was in stasis: things were either under construction or deconstructing themselves. Huge buildings going up one brick at a time. I watched a man hanging from a harness placing one brick after the other. It looked like slow, meticulous work. I can’t fathom how many bricks it would take to complete the high-rise apartment building. I’ve never considered him before: the bricklayer. How long will it take? What goes through his mind, brick by brick, day by week by month. Does he look down at the people, the cows, the tuk-tuks? Can he hear it all from up there? Does he feel a sense of ownership when the work is done and the millionaires move in?
There were buildings still standing, but their edifices had been sheered away somehow, like full sized doll-houses. The loose wires and fibers holding chunks of concrete reminded me of damaged spiderwebs, or heirloom lace too fragile to use, too laden with memories to let go of.
Running to the lake, I sometimes pass some relatively new apartment buildings. Along the path there are remnants of old piles that probably propped up a previous railway track. They outline flower beds; they are trimmed like trees, restored as “ruins”. I have never considered before the inauthenticity of their decay. The affectation of urbanity. A prettied-up representation of the “past”.
Most of all: the illusion of a current state of stasis, the illusion of a period of decay that is the “past” – we are the present continuous.
We don’t contemplate a foreign future.
I can’t imagine the future because I am trying so hard to make sense of – to take control of – to understand the now.
Yesterday a student died as the result of an illness. She wasn’t of one my students, but close with some of mine. M. approached me at the start of class. She was choked up, couldn’t talk, so she just showed me the text message. Then the same message pinged on another student’s phone.
The inevitable future comes at us from over our shoulder, covers our eyes and whispers in our ears, and we choose to be surprised.
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Oh, this is wonderful. It’s so good to hear your voice again. I am so sorry to hear about the student at your school. And there is something, everything, inevitable about our endings – and sometimes I think it’s only the West that chooses to be surprised by them.
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