(OPENS THE WINDOW TO LET OUT THE CLOUD OF INCENSE SMOKE)
I was walking up my block from the laundromat to my house. I just saw this hearse driving up the street. But like a new hearse, a modern hearse. It looked just like a regular Lincoln town car but with the boxy corpse carriage part built onto it. Tiny windows with tiny curtains drawn. I wonder who gets their corpse carried around like that, in that car. I couldn't see if there was anyone in it.
I had just put my clothes in the dryer. I know you're supposed to stay and wait for them, but I only live at the end of the block and I never stay. I figure that I don't have anything worth stealing, and if someone wants to steal my panties, then they probably need them more than I do. I trust this neighborhood. I had been late to take my clothes out of the washing machine. I was at home admiring my pedicure. When I got to the laundromat, the guy who works as the attendant had taken them out of the washing machine and put them in a cart so that someone else could use the washer. I felt embarrassed.
Putting my clothes into the dryer, I saw this young white chick next to me. I used to be one of the very few white people living on this block. Or, at least, there used to be a lot fewer. Now it's becoming quite hip; a gigantic luxury apartment building opened across the street from my house. We live across the street from housing projects. I feel superior to the new white people living here, walking very small dogs at midnight, getting drunk and hanging out on their tiny balconies. I feel smarter and older than they are, more authentic. And poorer than they are.
(LIGHTS A CIGARETTE AND SMOKES OUT THE OPEN WINDOW) So, this young white chick next to me was cute and wearing a messy ponytail. We both looked exhausted. She looked how I felt. We were loading our bedding into the dryers (not that I was spying) and I felt conspiratorial. Here we are, I though. The yuppies, doing our small loads of laundry, which are mostly bedding. Here we are, these fashionable young white people washing out colored bedding. Did you get laid too? I wanted to ask. This is what my life has come to. Mocking the other people at the laundromat and then feeling guilty for mocking them (only in my mind) and then identifying with them.
I feel like going online now is like looking into the future. Sexy children, angry children, sad children. Dead children. Imaginary children. I see these cute kids nowadays going so apeshit over Nan Goldin, like they should (of course), but taking out of context that quote about how if you don't take a photo of it, then you don't know it happened. That's so dangerous and it makes me so sad. That misconception that you need to document your life to give it meaning. That in order to live a life worth thinking about, you have to think about your life. Like: treat yourself like a star and then you will feel like one. Maybe you'll become one, or maybe you'll realize that treating yourself like one is just as good or better (especially if it's as close are you're going to get). You think that you need to know that you are worthy and treat yourself that way and prove it by documenting it. But of course that's a trick, right? You can't exchange living your life for documenting it. You can't get out of it by taking a photo. You think that if you write your life like a play, then it will feel like one. But most plays suck, most lives aren't worth documenting. Most of us are not really exceptional or interesting, which is actually pretty great, right?
We want to put a little distance between ourselves and the things that scare us. And the things that scare us include our own lives. I wonder sometimes about, in putting such a distance between "us" and "our life" (or at least the scary or difficult parts) what gets lost in that distancing. Who is the you that you are when you're just noticing, just documenting, just being. Just surviving. Who is the you that you are when you think you have reached Nirvana. When you think you have found a way out. If you think you're so smart then what is your name when it's not your name?
Everything gets replaced. New cars for carrying the dead, new neighborhoods, new memories, new doppelgangers, new secrets, new allergies, new annoyances, new friends, new flavors, new preferences. It hurts to think: who are you when you're not you?
As those yoga-acquainted yuppies amongst our readership have surely heard more than a few times: Pain is an indicator that you've gone too far.