Today, we passed an accident on the road. A motorcyclist had been hit, and died. He was lying there, broken, and we were just a car or two away. An hour later, when we drove back towards the same way we came, the road had been cleaned, the landscape repaired… and it was like nothing had happened at all.
For some reason, it reminded me of a short journal I wrote awhile ago, “before things got better”, so I decided to post it while I could still find it. It’s a downer, but it’s one of my favorite pieces of my writing for no real reason at all.
I am Transcended.
When they tell you that you’re going to die, you listen.
You don’t listen to them, of course. After an announcement of oncoming death, there’s really nothing else they can say, is there?
You listen to the trees.
I noticed last Wednesday, for the first time in the long years I’ve lived here, that leaves don’t fall in Southern California.
The trees are bare, but instead of shrouding the ground with pieces of themselves– little colorful fragments of their soul– the leaves that should have fallen simply disappear.
More accurately, they’re blown away by underpaid citizens and heavy machinery.
Leaves can’t fall in Southern California because nothing bad happens here. When I was elsewhere, I heard all the time of thirteen and fourteen car pile-ups in Orange County. Since I’ve been here, I’ve yet to see a major car accident. Cars don’t collide.
More precisely, when cars do collide, their pieces are picked up and stashed away in giant plastic bags held by determined insurance adjusters.
Here, death is a dirty word.
“What did the doctor say about that cough?” they ask. If they knew me half as well as they thought, they’d know it wasn’t just a cough. If they knew me half as well as they claimed to, they’d know I was lying when I reply, “Everything’s good. Gotta get more sleep, drink water, the usual.”
They said I was going to die.
Compare to birth. My mom has always said that the government thinks my birthday should be the week after I was born, because that’s when my birth certificate was officially stamped.
They stamped my birth certificate a week after I was born. They’re stamping my death certificate 2 years before I die.
It’s like the game kids play.
What would you do if you only had 2 years to live?
Now I know. I’d wake up, kiss my love, go to work, eat lunch, come home, and eat dinner with my family. I suppose it’s healthy to feel so complete at such a young age. I’m blessed to be so ready for death.
When they tell you that you’re going to die, you think.
Not about death– what’s there to think about? You think about other things.
Bad movies, and how you always wanted to grow up and be John Cusack.
Christmas presents, and how you never really got anyone they best present they’d ever received.
Pills, and how they probably didn’t help.
Bangles, and the sound they make when you’re dressed up all pretty.
Names, and how you promised your true love that you’d name your first born Optimus Prime.
I don’t have any regrets.
And nothing I’ve always wanted to do is out of reach. I could get through my list in half a year.
Take a pottery class.
Waste 5 rolls of film on pictures that make me smile.
Cut my hair like a boy.
Listen to every good song ever written.
Buy every scent of lotion available to see which really is my favorite.
Stand barefoot in mud.
Okay, I could get through my list in 3 months.
When they tell you that you’re going to die, you predict the future.
Probably not accurately because dying doesn’t give you any superpowers. At least, I didn’t get any superpowers.
I just started to imagine future conversations.
It’s a shame, they’ll say.
She was just starting her life.
Poor boy, he marries her and then she dies.
We’ll miss her help at the fundraiser this year.
I was wondering where she was.
I wonder if they’ll help him clear out my clothes. I wonder if he’ll let them.
No, he’ll say. She didn’t like you.
You never approved of our marriage.
Where were you when she was alive?
I want to keep those things.
He’s not one to mince words. That’s good. I have limited years and I don’t want to spend them dancing.
I don’t want to spend time at all. I want it to spend me. I want to feel every day take a piece of me away until I’m gone, until I’m nothing, until I’m part of time itself.
Time chases me. I am its beginning and it is my end, and we are forever circling each other.
Most people don’t understand time.
You’re so young, they say.
As if time cares.
They don’t know time like I do.
I am time, and it is time.
I know it.
Just as I know that when they tell you that you’re going to die, you cry.
Even though you’re ready, and it doesn’t do any good, or change anything, or give peace of mind to the soul you leave behind.
You cry because they don’t know you.
They don’t understand you or time.
You cry because you have someone who does and you’re leaving him all by himself in a big scary world. You cry because deep down, you’re ready for the pain to stop and the world to whirl smoothly around the axis of hopes and dreams without having to pander to your problems.
You cry because they want you to. You’re supposed to be surprised, confused, frantic. You scream, oh why, and pull your hair, and sob for hours.
No one wants to see the leaves of your soul fall softly around your body until you’re bare. Standing proud and open to the world, with all your flaws and virtues lying about your feet in colorful disarray. Standing crooked and broken, but graceful, with shards of your essence shattered all over the street. No one can store me in a plastic bag, you want to shout—I am transcended.
You are calm.
Because by the time they tell you that you’re going to die,
you already know.