Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I had hitchhiked my way up to the North Shore of Minnesota, up near Canada. I didn't have my car. My car keys had been taken away the week before by my mom, who wanted to to keep me near. I spent a good portion of my last mortal week in a vain search for my keys, whipping drawers out of their resting places, flipping furniture, spilling the contents of my mother's purse on the threadbare carpet of her bedroom. By the time I left my house behind for good, it looked as though it had been ransacked by thieves or junkies; in a way I suppose it had been.
My initial decision had been to walk. I'm am still in awe over the determination of this force that was driving me and the weakness of my faculties. I honestly just said, well, fuck it, I'm going to walk the 300 or so miles and I'll get there when I get there. Delusional, right? I had managed, over my lifetime, to develop a practice in the circumvention of reason. I cultivated this partition in my mind between logic and reason, and this undefeatable drive within me. I was able to cobble together some semblance of unity between these sides of me, but everyone, so to speak, knew who got the last word on any subject.
In my bag was a pistol I had taken from my dad's house about a day before I decided to go up north. My dad kept in in the back of his closet - I had discovered it years ago when I was a little girl, rummaging through my his stuff, trying to solve this enigma of a man. I told my brain that it was for protection on the road along the way, but I knew deep down what it was for. Logic and Reason knew what it was for, but they would sleep when I told them to. I would often touch the gun on the way up, careful to never actually hold it in a purposeful way.
I walked about five or six miles before I first realized that this walking thing was just not very realistic and I stuck my thumb out. The rides came fairly quickly (my mortal form was, I can now see, pretty attractive), and I actually turned down more rides than I took, making decisions that I now find a little funny. Why would someone who wants to die be so discriminating in who she chooses to take rides with? I mean, I did have a gun. I suppose it comes down to control - I wanted to control the details of how this ended.
I eventually wound up near a small state park a little south of the international border. I didn't actually enter the park, because I was deliberately trying to leave no footprints on my journey up here. I left Highway 61 and walk a very short path through a narrow band of woods until I could see Lake Superior. I stood on the beach for a short time, kicking off my sandals so that I could feel the warm rounded stones on my feet. They were warm. I shook the cold out of my body. People would walk by every so often, saying 'hi', their clothing whipping behind their bodies like flags.
After a while I felt so conspicuous and exposed that I retreated back to the edge of the wood. Instinctively, I hunched down a little bit and scanned the trees. I saw squirrels scurrying through the treetops, and bugs and butterflies, but no other signs of life. I saw that this narrow band of woods - they were a couple hundred feet wide - was crisscrossed with trails. From my location, there were two paths, four different directions I could take. I took the one that led most directly into the heart of the woods. After a few dozen steps, the path widened. Or I first though that it widened. In actuality, a small campsite had been set up along this path. There was no tent set up, but someone had left a couple of articles of clothing and a canteen hanging on a branch of a young tree. The limb bend under the strain. Was anyone coming back for these things? I wondered. Should I relieve the sapling of this weight? Again, I scanned the woods, looking for signs of human movement among the white birch trunks and fluttering leaves, listening for faint sounds of joy or serious murmurs. Eventually, I left the site as I found it and wandered on, following winding trails that often came back on themselves in complex circuits, finding many such small campsites like the first one; some completely clean, some strewn with garbage, most in a state somewhere in between.
The sun was beginning to set. I had subconsciously been using the daylight as measure of my last moments. I hadn't actually made a conscious decision as such, but I knew inside that once the stars had come out, it was time for me to go. I walked back towards the water. As I walked, I bent my elbows and held out my hands, as if I were ready for a hug. I felt the leaves brush against my sensitive fingers and palms, some fuzzy, some leathery. I treasured each experience, every step seemed a noble lifetime, a royal procession in a stoned paradise.
The water soon appeared, spread out like a vast galaxy and on into infinity. The first stars were showing in the sky. I stood on the edge of the woods that lined the stone beach of Lake Superior. Listening intently to the waves, I tried to have them drown out any thoughts I might have. Wind would alternately flutter through the leaves of the trees behind me, sweeping tendrils of my hair over my dirty face, then switch and come at me off of the lake, cooling me sweetly. The earth seemed to be breathing, the wind seemed to be engaged in the act of drawing my soul out of my body. I was scared, shaking almost violently. The air coming off the lake was a bit chilly, but not enough to produce these tremors. I reached into my worn woven bag and produced the pistol. It felt like a boat anchor in my hand.
I sat down in a heap on the rocks. They were so smooth and went so deep that it didn't hurt at all. I placed the gun delicately beside me and picked up a smooth oval of basalt, absentmindedly manipulating it while I listened to the big lake in front of me and the occasional rumble of a 18-wheeler passing on the highway to my back. My thoughts drifted, eventually, to contemplations about what it would be like throwing myself in front of one of those behemoths. What would happen? I was pretty sure the success rate would be higher than trying to do it myself; I would just have to take a step - one step - and everything else would be taken care of for me. The more I thought, the more appealing it became. I scrambled to get to my feet, hurriedly stumbling towards the highway, the skish-skish of the smooth stones yielding to my weight echoed in my head.
My conscience made a desperate wail for my attention, and it stopped me cold. The echoes of my footsteps faded and were drowned out by the waves gently slapping up against the rocky beach. What about the driver? I thought. What would happen to him, how would his life change? Would he feel guilty; in essence, would this dark force haunting my form jump ship and land squarely over him?
I looked up to the stars and screamed in rageful fits before striding briskly and determined back to the gun on the beach. Tears were streaming down my face now, catching and holding my windblown hair against my cheeks. I stabbed at the gun through the blurry vision of my tears, eventually finding it with my long, numb fingers. I grasped it and brought it up to my chest, turning it around so that the barrel faced me. My thumb found its way in between the trigger guard and the trigger. I toyed with its resistance. I stared into the seeming ocean in front of me, listening to it. I cataloged in my mind a book of lasts: my last meal, the last person I talked to, the last time I laughed [NO PERIOD OT THE END OF THIS SENTENCE ON PURPOSE!]
Then it happened...the gun went off. I looked down to see the handgun at my feet, blue in the bright moonlight, and I was vaguely aware that my hand hurt – from the kickback of the gun, I guess. For an eternal moment I was just there, hovering above the ground, not moving, not even breathing. I felt like a fossil, trapped floating in between my actions in the past and all of the possibilities that I might have experienced. Nothing happened for the longest time...I just hung there. I thought maybe I might be alright. Maybe I was fine.
Then I was seized with a kind of searing agony I had seen described in books. Oh, I thought, that’s what they were talking about. I fell to my knees, coming to rest on my haunches. The insects and pollen swarmed around me without pity, curious yet detached, landing on my sweaty face. I wondered for an absurd second what kind of bread the yeast in the air on the lakeshore might produce. I thought I could see the yeast, some sort of squiggles multiplied in my vision, anyway. I wanted to swat it away, but my arms were clutching my chest and I was scared to move them. I doubt they would have moved if I'd tried. I was in a merciless pain for a while, but eventually it subsided. I was scared too; I'd never been so scared. Oh no, I kept chanting softly to myself through chattering teeth. Oh no. No swearing, no anger, nothing profound nor poetic. Oh no.
After I collapsed and couldn’t move anymore, the thoughts rushed through me, liquid and random, passing so fast I couldn't acknowledge them. The rocks were cool and felt good. The bubbling yeast dancing in my eyes was forming intricate geometric patterns. I wondered if they were angels. Maybe I should talk to them. I thought I heard a low buzzing sound. Was it the ocean? It hurts. My mom doesn't know where I am. I am so sad. I am cold. Who will find me? On no. Roll over. Just roll over. Onto back. I think I see Orion. I wish someone were here to hold me. It hurts. Oh no. The lights in the sky may have come from stars long dead. Oh no...
The process of dying continued after I lost consciousness. I’m not sure if my spiritual arrival here occurred immediately or after a few days or weeks or what. It took me weeks even to question it. Maybe I was just in shock.
He was crying and wandering around the house all desolate, and dressed nice the first time I noticed him, so I’m thinking maybe it was right after my funeral? I pretty much ignored him for the first few weeks. Not out of rudeness or anything, I just ignored him...I’m not sure why.
I can’t even remember his name. I know I know his name, but I just can’t seem to recall it. Not long after I first arrived I tried to look at his mail only to discover I can’t read either. That was frustrating as hell. I felt like I was still intelligent and could form thoughts and everything, but at the same time I felt like I had the faculties of an infant again. That was the first time I actually influenced the physical realm.
Listening to: Antlers - When You Sleep (My Blody Valentine cover)
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I still have no idea why I would be here, in this place. It’s a great place to haunt, to be sure. Wide open floor plan, very high ceiling with exposed wooden beams that seem as thick as an average tree, around a dozen ancient windows lining the southwestern-facing wall. The windows are tall and fairly thin, coffin shaped. During the day, the sunlight filters through the old glass and marks time along the floor in angular wavy pools, getting longer and progressively taking on a more amber hue as the sun arcs across the city.
He has placed several spindly floor lamps around the loft at strategic locations; one on either side of the kitchen area, one near his studio area, one by his couch. They are all of the same design - sort of a wrought iron look to them, with ornate iron vines sprouting a small dark leaf every so often as they climb the length of the lamps.
He barely uses the lights at all – by day there is plenty of light from the windows. At night, there is usually enough ambient light from the street and other buildings for him to get around by. All of the corners are dark and cobwebby, and the place is just draped in layers of shadow. The lamps just stand there like deserted sentries, unable to fulfill their one duty. Every surface of this place is covered in a thin layer of dust that glows phosphorescently in the evening hours.
The floor is old and wooden, worn down in some areas, so the grain sticks up in ripples. The wood floor runs throughout the loft except for the kitchen, which is covered in a beautiful gray and black marble. The appliances in the kitchen are all stainless steel, and seem to be of a design more suited for a commercial rather than residential purpose. This reminded me, a little, of where I used to work when I first, and that reminder brought with it the first twinge of nostalgia I'd experienced for my old life. He does not spend much time in the kitchen - in the time I've been here, he exists mainly in the bedroom.
The bedroom is off of the kitchen, in a corner, and is not a room as such since the floor plan is so open, but it is more or less easy to spot the fuzzy borders between areas. It is fairly small and manages to somehow appear claustrophobic, due in part to the imposing bookcases that line the walls. There is a narrow galleyway between the books and his bed - he can just reach over while still lying down to pluck a book off the shelf.
A small bathroom is tucked into the bedroom area, not much bigger than a closet. It is old and echoey and lined in white ceramic tile which is dingy but not dirty-looking, more weathered or antiqued, I would say. He spends what most would say is an inordinate amount of time in here. Out of concern (or more, to be honest with myself, untoward curiosity) I looked in on him one day only to discover this is where he goes to masturbate. I was not repulsed by this discovery, at least not like I'm sure I would have been had I been alive; I felt more of a kind of sympathy and understanding. I was able from my perspective to see more than just a vulgarity, but also the motivations within this human, at least a little. And this was, in part, a mechanism; a ritual to beat off, so to speak, the demons of lonliness and despair that were so obviously plauging him. At least, it was becoming obvious to me the more I observed him.
There is a small nightstand with a lamp next to his bed which borders the edge of the sitting room. He has scattered a bunch of smooth gray pebbles and rocks over the surface of the nightstand in a more or less random manner, as if he were broadcasting flour over a marble countertop, preparing to knead dough. I recognized the rocks immediately - they were from the North Shore, near where I killed myself. (died?). There was a strange energy to them.