Living alone has its advantages.
At dusk on Sundays I turn on a string of lanterned Christmas lights. During the week I work as hard as I’ve ever worked. Twice a day I ride the train, alone but not. Twice a day we’re all pressed together like swaying sardines in suits, and sometimes I look at the others, and sometimes I don’t. And sometimes I think, here we are, little fish, flying through this city in a train on stilts, and then I find it impossible not to laugh.
My thoughts have been running this way often. Here we are. Here I am. When you live alone it’s easier to recognize a life as your own, to locate your life in the noise of other lives.
What you’re seeing here are stills from video I shot while driving cross-country with my mother.
There were things that didn’t make it onto the camera roll. There were 21st century teepees with signs that read Jeronimo! and signs that read Authentic!!! Indian Crafts. We passed many signs promising many differently punctuated authenticities. We passed signs for “Palin for America” and other signs for things “for America.” We were driving through Arizona the day the congresswoman, the judge, and the little girl were shot in Tuscon, and knowing this colored everything. We listened to talk radio. We felt appalled.
“Perhaps the hardest thing about losing a lover is to watch the year repeat its days.”
That’s Anne Carson on loss. A quote for the first days of the new year. And if that quotation does not sing to you the kind of swaggering, obvious, the-past-is-the-past, dead, caput; the-future-is-now New Years zeitgeist we’ve all loved and trusted and grown bored with, or worse, wise to, well, you’re welcome.
“I can feel that other day running underneath this one like an old videotape.” My mother has been running through the tapes. Last year she lost a great love, the great love, her mother. There we were in January a year ago. Here we were. “On the 2nd you took a red eye to Chicago. The next day we took her to the hospital.” The year after is the freshest. Next year, we’ll say two Januaries ago, and we’ll feel emptier about it, somehow, maybe. The tape will play in fading colors. But still it will play, on and on.