the fog burned, and i feel may through a thin sweat sheen. windows tempt me with abundant greenery, with leaves upturned and moving.
the last time i climbed up here, i shifted between reading karl ove knausgaard’s fifth book of my struggle and staring through the glass that faces the columbia river. a cyclical ritual i’d developed: look down, scan a paragraph, look up, scan a skyline evergreen. my eyes sorted out the still motion — the spring leaves staggering on the hills, the white semi’s rambling beneath bridge beams, the outstretched statuesque crows hitching wind rides. the wall-mounted clock with spinning needles, ticking. almost one p.m.
i’m two thousand pages into this norwegian man’s six-volume autobiography, every word of which may be a complete lie or partial fabrication. scenarios range from slightly boring activities like frying up onions and potatoes to completely maddening descriptions of young girls (cue “breasts” and “thighs”). but the words feel honest. and it’s reassuring to discover how mundanely, yet sometimes fantastically, this stranger’s life unfolds.
however, the irritating thing about absorbing just one author’s work over a long period of time is finding that my own thought structures mimic his. (even these previous paragraphs draw heavily from his style.) what’s worse, i sometimes grow an appetite for fried onions and potatoes, which i cook, and eat, all of it bland.
but the fifth book has grabbed me with different fists. karl is in his early twenties, hesitant but sure that he is on the brink of something grand. restless. which reminds me that i’m twenty-one, in brain osmosis, with a body itching for movement.
yesterday morning, while scheming for my day off, i decided to continue reading book five, really read it, just sit down, let the pages open. don’t buy anything, don’t eat. focus on a certain consumption. this usually troubles me, as i typically grow distracted or anxious about my what else i could be doing. i’ll stop reading, glance out the window, notice the familiar pavement and white house across the street. couldn’t i be out? couldn’t i be creating music? couldn’t i be savoring time? am i missing something good?
liz once told me i’m “always looking for the next best thing”. i know it’s true, she doesn’t bullshit. even a simple evening walk may set me in a loop of thought: imagine that brick covered in ivy, it would look mystic. if there were clouds out now, the sky would be cotton candy. no street corner may be what it is, only more. transformed, yet the same. surely if i improve what’s around me, something will improve within me — that’s the loop. of course, it doesn’t always play out this way, and this thought process is exhausting.
the same exhaustion seems to circulate in karl’s twenty year-old mind, half-foreboding, half-exuberant. it wears him out, the longing for ephemeral beauty by happenstance, for a notion of fate, for divine caesura in the rhythm of commonplace. always keeping eyes out for a sign of reassurance. how helpful it feels when, in the midst of his clusterfuck youth, he encounters some environment that harbors symbolic comfort, or some sense of celestial guidance.
i can’t say i don’t stumble upon similar scenarios — a number 9 on a lamp post, three deer grazing, owls cooing in the night, silhouettes of bare tree limbs, a street walker with known brown eyes. poetry and literature, too, can pause my thoughts. karl’s reflection on the orpheus myth, for example:
the utmost is that which disappears when it is seen or recognized.
reading this, i thought of past favorite moments, recollected in alchemized golden light, surviving for mere seconds. within them, i was within it: still motion. stillness being no action, no state of being. it is a mood of illusions. all around you moves, earth and life and time in spin. like driving through evening countryside, basking in the violet sky, noticing how the fleeing sun turns every shadow sacred — every time you try to capture it, to remember a certain arrangement of slanted country houses and barns, a certain scene like a post-impressionistic painting, it blurs by, and another scene emerges, which you struggle to memorize.
the clock reads forty past four now. my eyes want to close after an afternoon well-spent, but the sun still rests high. how did i blaze through those four hours?
i think of nick drake’s time piece, not exactly a song, not exactly a poem, but a rhythm and reminder:
still it’s time that grows in my brain
still it’s time that calls me here
still i scream when time ticks
still i cringe from time’s tricks
still i groan for time’s loves
but still i’ll try for time perhaps.