Before we can control it, we find ourselves moving in a different world with different equations. Twos and threes take the place of faces. Time breathes as I breathe. Hard and into my heart. Always knowing this is what I came for. This is what I always wanted. I change perspectives.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, I tell the book. This is an old love that did not come before love. I’m reading Bertrand Russell who’s saying there isn’t any time. I go to another dimension—a black room with nothing else.
I don’t have children here but still they wait for me to pick them up from… I’m not a private detective but a woman leaves a voicemail asking if her husband is fucking other guys or maybe she’s off her meds?
I think about Anna, in this place. She got with that famous musician and I thought “there’s no way I can get with her.” I’d never met her but loved her music. On Facebook, I saw she was moving in with a man named Neil. I hoped that she had resigned herself to being single with her gay friend Neil.
I sent that Facebook message with no prayer involved because something stronger than a prayer was involved. It was me sending myself through the internet into her life and my God whatever is stronger than praying is exactly what I did. Magic had something to do with it. The idea that thinking hard enough about a woman could create an opening in her mind where thoughts of you slipped in.
Anna’s answer to my message ended with a rush of exclamation points.
When Anna broke up with Neil, that’s when I asked to visit her in Austin. I didn’t even know what was in Austin, but it seemed cool and threatening.
I flew there. I met her. I touched her hair accidentally when I went for a hug. “Oh,” I said.
“Neil drank a lot, so he fit my pattern,” she said.
“You’re my pattern,” I said.
“Your look is my pattern. Your big blue eyes are my pattern. You are a huge Pattern Anna,” I said.
I moved to Austin after a few weeks and we built a life together. The passion was simple.
But as time went on I had to go off on benders with Kierkegaard and have serious time with Schopenhauer. It wasn’t that I read them. It was that I changed when I read them. Instead of drinking, I stayed in my study. Sometimes I said mean things to her. I said I didn’t like the clothes she wore. I questioned her taste in music. I criticized, but I did so earnestly, sometimes scratching my head. Little comments made me worried she’d leave. But she always stayed, which upset me more.
One night my head was on the bed frame. I got upset at the wood for being wood. For some reason wood seemed so stupid to me, like it should give more than what it gave. My house should give me more. I knew it wasn’t about Anna. But the house could not be so easily forgiven. And sometimes. Sometimes. The house got boring. I just got bored and took things for granted which is so obvious but true.
So I end up in outer space somewhere in a black room with no time passing because this is what I wanted apparently.
She dreams of me. Anna combs the children’s hair in the morning, telling them that at some point Daddy will come back from the vacation he took. She believes she has lost me. She fights but with who she isn’t certain. Her brain whispers, he’ll come back, but her body shouts. It says she doesn’t understand yet. Divorce. Moving. Children with harder brains. She makes food that I usually make and it’s much crappier than I usually make and the kids are wondering what the hell is going on in this house because they have a hankering for language even though they’re still young. They put their hands behind their backs and refuse to go to school because “it’s so dumb.” Anna tells them that’s not a smart thing to say and they say they will reconsider. Together.
Huddled together they reconsider. They go to school because they’re smart, holding onto their backpack straps like parachutes.
She goes to my study and looks at the books. She peels the corrugated pages with her fingers. She’s never been good at patience and she asked God at night for it often. Some weeks it felt like she was really getting good at it. The exclamation points in her message to me, they expressed relief. She was getting old and wanted something solid. A relief. A complete relief. She thought, maybe.
Maybe I could be sturdy even though I was so much younger. But I’m 33 now and clearly still a child. Only children think time isn’t real. Only children get lost and call it learning. She could hold herself. Put herself in my chair and wrap her arms around herself.
I roam through these walls without direction. It’s not entirely clear what Russell meant anymore. Things combine into nonsense. This space exists but what is moving then if not time? I wanted to get away from it so bad but now. Now it’s like the moving circle of my life has regained intrigue. I thought I wanted to run.
I come back.
I let my family wrap themselves around me. The feeling is large. Breathing out of control. Grasping. Children clawing.
“What’s that dark stain on the carpet?” I ask.
Anna’s been rolling on the carpet at night. She says her heart left the house. She says something else but I can’t hear her over the children stomping on my feet. I listen to her.
“My heart feels heavy the way you talk about books being heavy,” she says.
I kiss her and she makes a little lash with her tongue on the side of my mouth.
At night I put my hand to her chest and want to ask her for forgiveness. Her heart’s unusually quiet for the occasion.
“Time is real,” I say.
“Who doesn’t think time is real?” she asks
“Sometimes you are unbelievable.”
“I’m an animal,” I say
She turns toward me and nods her head, yes.
“You are my nocturnal animal and I never want you to leave,” she says.
I kiss her.
“These kisses are reserved for promises which cannot help but be kept, you who cannot help but be kept.”