eternity, pt. 4


It's funny how long even the shortest nights of summer can seem. I spent a summer with Eris in Maine, and we spent our nights on the grass of her lawn watching the stars, sometimes talking, sometimes quiet. We'd stay out until the light of morning crept over the eastern sky and one of us would suggest that we move to an actual bed.

On one night we were driven indoors by a storm, just after dawn. We ran inside and laughed in her bedroom and wrapped ourselves in blankets, only she just kept shivering, and I asked if there was something wrong. She shook her head at first, then sat up on the edge of the bed and told me that she'd spent the evening trapped in someone else's mind.

She lay there, paralyzed, staring up at these alien stars, thinking thoughts that she knew could not have come from her own head, just praying for a dawn that seemed an eternity away. Perhaps it was. I'm not going to pretend I understand what happened, or why, but even I felt powerless after she told her story. I took her hand and promised that I would always be there, at her side, and if she ever doubted who she was she would always have me there to comfort her. And I meant it--I'd be there through eternities both long and short.

She smiled at me and kissed my hand and said "That means a lot." And it was the most beautiful, heartbreaking lie she'd ever told me. No matter how close I held her, she would always be alone with me.


eternity, pt. 3


Summer solstice was the first time I kissed you, and also the first time that I realized I was terrified of you. I'd been making you chase me for what must have been months, and suddenly the prospect of an entire summer--and summers back then lasted forever--made me realize that there was a reason I was running away. This was supposed to be a game, and the thing about games is you can pack them up at the end of the night and put them back in the closet.

But you weren't playing the same game. Despite everything you were ready for a summer with me--you were ready for an eternity with me. So I asked you that night if this meant we were a thing now. You said you guessed we must be.

"What does that mean?"

"It doesn't have to mean anything. I like you. I think you like me. Isn't that enough?"

And I wanted to say no, you stupid boy, that isn't enough. That will never be enough. The days are long and so full of potential, and here you are telling me you're prepared to just let eternity happen to you, like it's no big deal. Like it isn't going to end at any moment. Instead I just shrugged, and looked into my coffee, and in the swirls of cream I saw the future.

I would be forever running away--it's in my nature, as a very dear friend once said, though she thought I was the frog, not the scorpion. You would be forever chasing me, and I'd always be just out of reach. You thought eternity meant kisses in the sun and days that never ended. Instead you'd be my very own Tantalus. I wonder if you even realize what you stole.


eternity, pt. 2


When I first moved to Seattle I lived a few blocks from a used bookstore which was right next to a little coffee shop on one of my neighborhood's major intersections. They were the first landmark I really recognized, the first part of the city that I saw and didn't just see a maze of endless buildings, all faceless and alien. And they became a part of my life just as much as "home" was. Every weekend I'd go down to the bookstore and pick something up, then sit at the coffee shop and drink coffee and read. It became my little ritual.

At first I used my ritual to stave off loneliness in a new city. Eventually I made friends but I still kept some time free every weekend, because it was comforting and familiar--or, put another way, because it was changeless and eternal. And even once I'd moved away, all my thoughts of home included that coffee shop, that bookstore. In my mind these ritual altars stood tall and proud, untouched by the years, mysterious and ancient like Stonehenge. They'd be there long after I was gone. It just wouldn't be Seattle without them.

Once I'd left town, of course, I stopped performing my little ritual, and sometimes I feel like things would have been better if I hadn't--like these little shops actually helped keep the world at bay. An absurd thought, perhaps, but you need absurd thoughts to understand the eternal.


eternity, pt. 1


I was sure that first summer would last forever. Summer is a season that slowly creeps up on you, and suddenly it's June and you realize the sun hasn't set when it should have, and somehow you're okay with that. So we'd sit on the porch and watch the summer evenings creep in, or we'd go exploring, safe in the knowledge that dark wouldn't come until much later.

She was my shelter from an indifferent world, and, as it was summer and we had nothing else to do, and armed as we were with eternity, we faced it together, bravely, triumphantly, ridiculously. Wasting away the summer nights, laughing off the endless days. No matter how many hours of sunlight we had, the days were never long enough--the days passed quickly and the nights seemed to stretch on forever.

I made her stay up until sunup on the solstice, because it felt important--this was the heart of the endless summer. How could we not? Then we slept, safe in the knowledge that we'd done something right. We'd paid our homage to the gods of eternity. How could what we had not last forever?


a prelude for june

June is officially the start of summer here, though unofficially it tends to be marked by what the locals call the June gloom, or occasionally Juneuary, which is probably why I can never think of it as anything but a beginning. 

Most people who aren't from Seattle live under the impression that it's rainy all the time; this is something of a misrepresentation. By the time summer rolls around we often go weeks or months without rain. Nothing but clear skies and a gentle breeze. It's not until autumn rolls around that the weather even thinks of changing. From June onward it is possible to believe that the summer will never end.

Winter has that problem too, of course, but we fill our winters with festivals, marking the solstice and the new year and other things that pass the time. Summer has nothing. Summer stretches on endlessly. So I've always thought of June as the month that begins an eternity, and this month's stories will be on the subject of eternity.

This month also means we're approaching the halfway point. It never seems like it's been that long.


life, pt. 5


Life is narrative. It's not that stories all work out in the end--they obviously don't--but stories are important. Probably the only thing that's important in this fucked up world we live in. That's the thing I've always latched onto when it seems like it's slipping out of control.

Well, I say "always." This is one of those things I can trace to a single conversation. This was after some party at someone's house back in high school, hanging out with Alex on the porch. I always felt overwhelmed at big parties, though Alex seemed right at home. She was right at home pretty much anywhere.

I was complaining about the sorts of things you complain about when you're seventeen and think that everything is the end of the world, and she just shrugged and said, "I'm sure you can make a good story out of it, at least." You know, the sort of meaningless thing you say when someone is complaining and you don't really think it's worth complaining about but you don't want to just slap them and tell them to shut the fuck up.

But I was drunk, young, and impressionable, and that seemed somehow profound. That became the lens I used to view the world, and suddenly stories were everywhere I looked. It was still overwhelming--life will always be overwhelming--but it was comforting, and then it was important. Since life is narrative, it's always safe to say you're part of something that will last long after you're gone.