This One Time, 27

This one time I was sitting on a sidewalk bench outside a club at maybe two in the morning. I had hit that stage of goofy tired where a beer has ten times the effect it ought to and a single cigarette goes a really, really long way. The thumping beats could still be heard out here. I could imagine that was what was shaking snow off of the power lines above me, but it was almost certainly just the wind.

Power lines still get to me. They look odd. Where I come from there were street lights and intersections had traffic lights and … there really just weren’t a lot of wires in the air. We put them in the ground in tunnels so they’ll be protected from rain and wind and suicidal squirrels. It’s like electricity was an afterthought here. An add-on feature. Like, “We forgot people need to see at night in their houses and keep food cold so it won’t spoil and watch television. Let’s string some shit up.” It’s just tacky.

I really wanted to go home, but I was here with people. This was my least favorite part of the night.

I didn’t really want to go home, actually. I wanted to be asleep, so I could wake up and be past all this and have another day. Not that I much knew what to do with another day. I didn’t really have a home anymore. Since I got dumped and moved out I just had a place with some of my stuff in it. A place where sometimes I could sleep if I was tired enough. Right now I was tired enough. A second wind would screw it up for me.

Not that I was expecting a different tomorrow. Wake up. Borrow the computer. Look for work. Call ten people and maybe talk to two of them. Fill out job applications, write cover letters, send resumes on the offchance I might get a nibble and schedule an interview for a job I’d pretend to love for the duration of the interview.

My best case scenario, of the feasible scenarios anyway, was pretty weak and not much worth fighting for. I considered just shrugging out of my coat and burrowing into one of the snowpiles around here that would probably last until April. Then I could just go to sleep and never wake up again ever.

I tried to think about what it would take to turn my life around. Because two o’clock shivering on a bench outside of a club tired out of your mind makes an awesome Chapel Perilous for a “dark night of the soul” episode. But let me let you in on something. This was now force of habit. I spent so much time in the Chapel Perilous I had my name on a pew up front and they let me give tours during daylight hours to visitors and tourists. Chapel Perilous was more home to me than the place where my stuff was.

I guess I was supposed to be praying, and sometimes I did pray. I had no idea who I was praying to, since God was a big stretch for me. Any God that had the power to make the world sure as hell seemed to like the sound of crying babies. All we ever seem to ask Him for was a break from tragedies that got the name, amusingly enough, of Acts of God, or for relief from oppression by one or another of His other children — whoever it was he favored enough so they got to have power over us. Praying for strength to carry on only gets you a larger burden. Praying for patience to endure only gets you tougher trials. Right before Jesus died he prayed to God, His Father, for a break. For a different destiny. And see what that got Him.

You get free will, enough so that He can punish you for your choices, but you can’t get off the rails he puts you on. Either God is powerless or He’s a bastard. Or He cares so much about his ultimate plan, whatever that is, that we’re no more than microbes to Him. Or we’re playthings, and one of the last things on earth we really want is His full attention.

So the only thing I pray for is oblivion. Or distraction. In the timeless view, there is no point to anything. The best humanity has to offer is a bloom of algae on a muddy rock. Eventually this algae might evolve into something with some power, with some purpose — or maybe it will just die off. Right now, though, it pretty much sucks to be a microbe.

And the only thing I have to work with right now, is this very moment.

I look away at a glint of something bright, something distracting, and then I find I’m back here again. Right at this moment. A pencil balanced improbably on its point, not tipping, not falling, but writing a line at the speed of light through time, starting at birth, ending at death. A brief hash-mark in a larger picture none of us will ever see.

And that’s God’s gift to us. Each and every one of us. Just this moment and everything that’s in it.


January 27, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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