Your life doesn’t happen in any kind of order. Events don’t have cause and effect relationships the way you wish they did. It’s all a series of fragments and repetitions and pattern formations. Language and water have this in common.
In our town, in the sweet spot of our county, we were like dark lumps of flesh moving through plasma. In a thousand years, perhaps, our descendants might evolve into creatures with a morsel of understanding at their core, some insight to untangle their gnarled dilemma, but for now, at this moment of our unevolved history, we were blessed with no skill for diagnosing our withered, exhausted state. We groped about, and if there was a harm’s way, we plunged into it so deeply that we were smeared up to the neck with the very stuff, the greasy paste, that was slowly killing us. We were tired, is what we said, which was like saying we were alive. Of course we were tired, who wasn’t?
Forty-three years old, and the war occurred half a lifetime ago, and yet the remembering makes it now. And sometimes remembering will lead to a story, which makes it forever. That’s what stories are for. Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can’t remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.
When I was little Grace used to say we were a ship with a broken mast. She said we needed to be careful or we’d sink. And now I think she was right. But there’s something new, I know because I stay up and listen to the world at night. We are on a ship, only we’re not sinking. We’re moving again, cutting fast through the sea with a crucifix mast, plastic bag sails and a hull made of disposable razors and straw.