Day Four - At Night
Jonah and I still haven’t made it through the big, big, unbelievably gigantic fields. He’s making us a bed of dry leaves and old blankets – there are a lot of old blankets everywhere since all the national territories were unified and people started travelling. The sky was just starting to turn pink again when the train got to the last station, and it has since turned blue again, and black again, but the fields still look as big as ever. The blackness has taken over now and it seems to have been around for so long it’s hard to believe it has ever been different. The night is not for watching the light change. The night is for sleeping. I’m really tired, and I feel a bit dazed and empty after having walked for so long. I know we’ll find our way back tomorrow, I’m not worried about that. And anyway, everyone knows it’s nothing unusual to get lost in the big fields. It’s just that they are so big.
This afternoon was the first time I had sex with Jonah since Jacques got us the portable stove, since I stopped showing up for lunchtime and dishwashing and the naked dancing under the sprinklers. It was good. I didn’t take my eyes off his for a second. He didn’t seem nervous, he didn’t laugh. We almost didn’t make any noise. We just breathed. I told him to be slow, and he was. We were under a tree. A tree without leaves. It must be autumn now. It’s just so hard to tell around here, the sun is always so bright. I said, “I’m starving”, he said, “Yes, I know. I’m going to cook you a nice lunch. I can see some berries in that bush over there, and I brought some really good carrots with me, and sweet potato, you like sweet potato, don’t you? I’m going to cook you some nice soup, how about that?”. He said it in a whisper, a soft, dragged whisper, like he was caressing my ears. I didn’t take my eyes off his. I was afraid it would all go away if I did. I wanted it to stay, stay. I wanted to have it and keep it and wrap it up and put it in a box and put the box on the highest shelf of a wardrobe and put the wardrobe in a bedroom with yellow-and-white walls.
The truth is, more than anyone I have always cherished those little, fickle moments, the ones that can be captured and polished and kept somewhere, in a bedroom that does nothing but contain what is cherishable, and brought to memory, perfect and immaculate, at the time of most need. Shit. It’s all melting away these days. The times are for dissolving. I told Jonah to slow down. What I really wanted was for him to freeze. I wanted us to turn into concrete. I wanted us to turn into meat, and then I wanted us to turn into concrete. At the slightest touch of a human hand I feel like I’m going to collapse into dust and feathers, it scares me. I don’t want dissolving to equal disappearing. I’m scared.
Today was just a long day. How far away is the horizon. Now I can’t see anything. I can see Jonah messing around with a big pile of dry leaves and old blankets.
“Do you need help?”, I just asked him. “No, I’m alright. You rest now”, he said. This is the opposite of dissolving. I feel flaccid and heavy. The rich earth all over my skin. The night breeze. The sound of crickets. The sound of Jonah’s breathing. I’m a large chunk of matter surrounded by sensation.
Marriage sounds like it would be nice. It basically means sharing things, and that’s what I want. Sharing. I thought it would be like being married to 50 people, when I first came here, that’s what I was after. A life made of nice settings for nice moments that could then be endlessly cherished. But no one’s ever allowed in the kitchen, and I always feel so weird on Big Fire nights, and so often I’ve had to make my way back to the dormitories on my own in the dark. Like the time when I felt like I was going to faint, and spent the whole night locked in the toilet feeling like I was about to throw up, and when I finally got it together and walked back up to the Big Fire there was almost no one left there, only some of the Us sipping cheap wine and laughing, and one or two couples kissing. I knew the night had come to an end because the Big Fire flames were low, almost gone, and no one was trying to revive them. I had no choice but to discreetly make my way back to the dormitories. I couldn’t ask someone for a flashlight, I know they would’ve asked me what I was doing still hanging around. I wasn’t supposed to be there. I came with the crowd and left with the crowd, as a Newcomer I should feel lucky to even be allowed at a Big Fire night. The Us looked so good, sitting on plastic chairs around the nearly extinct fire, huddling under blankets, it is always sunny here, but sometimes, on some nights, there is an icy breeze and we need to go find some old blankets and we sit holding warm drinks, and then we are fine. The laughter and the cheap wine looked so good, it hurts to even remember it. It makes me want to be back there right now, it makes me hate how big these fields are. They look like such beautiful moments. I’m always outside of them, even when I’m invited to come to a meeting of the Us, I go to see it from outside. The Us are the Us. I’m not part of the Us. I’m just me. With the Us.
It’s making me sad to write this. It might be obscene. I wouldn’t know anymore. I don’t know what’s obscene and what’s not anymore. What I know is I would be ashamed if someone read it. Tomorrow Jonah and I will be back, and I will see him only sometimes, coming in and out of the kitchen, maybe, if I start coming to lunchtime and dinner time again, on Sundays if I can find the courage to ask him to come for a walk after we cook mussels in the big pan out on the Sunflower Field. I will see Jacques again. I wonder how he’s been. I wonder how I’m going to feel when I see him again. I wonder if he knows that Leo has read my journal. I wonder if Leo’s told him anything about what I wrote. I will see Leo again. It all feels so daunting. It’s the opposite of dissolving, in a bad way, not in the way it felt like when Jonah and I were having sex earlier today. The truth is, when I think about things like these, when I think about Jacques sitting without me next to the building site cooking alone, or with a Newcomer or two, on his portable stove, and all the melancholy that comes with that, it feels like it’s been so damn long, it’s only been four days. Or Leo and his eternally half-packed suitcase. Or Jonah laughing nervously. Or Celia and her adorable family, and how rude Jonah was when she offered him ice cream.
Do you want to know what pre-Unification museums are like? I’ve never been to one, but a Newcomer told me once: They’re always really narrow, really high towers, so you hardly ever move right and left or front and back, you can only move up and down. All there is inside them are pictures, socks and things hanging from the walls, and different types of music playing and different smells as you climb up the stairs. There isn’t much logic to the way the pictures and socks and things are displayed really, they don’t attempt to reconstruct anything from the past. All they do is create a sense of it being gone and changed forever. When you reach the top of the stairs there is nothing but sheer light. Glass walls, glass ceiling, and just blinding white light coming in through them. Then you have to go down again, and the Newcomer said it was the hardest thing he’s ever had to do in his life. You have to say goodbye to all your old friends, and he said the only way you can do it is by admitting to yourself that you were living an illusion, that everything you have ever loved was nothing but an illusion. He said that’s the only way you can say goodbye to the feeling of intimacy and of sadness to have lost something dear that a pre-Unification museum evokes, and bring yourself to go down the stairs and out into the real world, the messy world of messy smells and sounds, and right and left and back and front and diagonal.
The beds are ready. It’s late. Unbelievably late. The night is so long. These fields are so big. It’s so easy to get lost. I’ve been writing for too long. I should be asleep. Tomorrow it will all make sense, that is one thing we know, in the morning everything makes sense. It doesn’t matter how or why or in which way. Tomorrow it will all make sense.