This One Time, 49

This one time I noticed that whatever it was I was noticing I started noticing more of. Oh, c’mon,  you’ve noticed it too.

Remember when you got your first car? There you are, terrified of getting smushed or running over babies or whatever, and the first thing that distracts you is you see your own car a lane over and three car-lengths up about to make a turn. And then you narrowly avoid smushing a baby and you forget all about it, until you finally make it out onto the highway, and there it is again! And eventually you make a game of it, keeping a tally of how many duplicates of your car you see every time you go out.

That didn’t happen to me for my first car, but that’s only because it was a rusted-out Corvair as old as I was. Happened for my second car, though, and for every car I got afterward.

Buy new shoes, something unusual, and there’s someone else wearing them. New purse? There it is! New hairstyle? Ditto.

When I noticed that it happened for everything, it was because I found a new mole on my shoulder. New moles are scary, but some of them are harmless, and this one turned out to be harmless too when I had it checked out. But it was sleeveless weather, and I started looking at exposed shoulders whenever I could, looking to see who else was copying my new style.

And I saw at least a couple every day. Sometimes a lot more than that. It’s like, even in an infinite universe, there just wasn’t enough details to go around. What clinched it was eventually seeing my rusted out old heap of a 60s Corvair again, and I knew mine had fallen to dust decades ago. It was like it hadn’t been carted off to the junkyard after all. It had gone to the Props department so it could be mothballed until it was needed again.

An old boyfriend showed me this weird math thing once, and I mostly didn’t pay any attention to it because it was the sort of thing pot-heads carried home from the head shops to hang on their walls under a blacklight. But he could make his computer draw the thing, painting it in all kinds of different colors depending on how he set it up. Sometimes it was all round shapes, sometimes it was all stringy and thorny. It wasn’t until I saw my Corvair again that I thought about it, because the one thing I remembered past the tacky colors and the blacklight posterishness of it was that he would point to some detail on the complicated thing and zoom in, and then you could see not only the big detail you zoomed in on, but a bunch of tinier versions of that detail all around it, and then you could zoom in on  one of those, and do it again, and again, and then eventually you’d just be lost swimming in a sea of whatever it was you zeroed in on in the first place.

He said you could zoom in forever because the picture wasn’t exactly two-dimensional. It was, like, two-and-a-half dimensional. And that when you pushed into it like that, you were wandering off into one of its infinite protuberances. It didn’t make any sense at the time, but the way that details kept cropping up again and again, I thought maybe I could use it.

I started with looking for a nose, like I had looked for my mole, a nose that was pretty familiar to me, until I started noticing it at least a couple of times a day. Then a chin. Then that nose in combination with that chin. Then what I imagined his hairline would look like today. And then ears.

It took nearly six months, but that’s how I found my brother again who had run away when he was sixteen.


February 18, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


Leave a Reply