I was six when it happened. She walked into my room — without even knocking, as she would normally do — lingered in the doorway, I remember her hair was put in a ponytail, pajama pants on, she gave me that head to toe glance, that then went on searching the walls and shelves as if she was taking a shapshot of this tiny little space, you know, like taking a photograph with your mind, and then her eyes came back to mine.
She said: “Look,” and she kind of paused (if only you can imagine pausing within such a small portion of time which itself might be considered a pause), but it wasn’t “Look, over there!” although she was stretching her hand towards the window. Neither was it a “Look, we need to talk” type of pitch you may expect from a person that rushes into someone else’s room without a knock, with this fiery look and all shaking.
It was more like “Look, I need to tell you something,” spoken in the tender voice of Sara Connor recording pastoral messages to her as yet unborn son, but drastically distorted by the real-life understanding that it is not possible to pass all this knowledge to a six year old boy in the course of a one-tenth of a second.
She was moving her tongue from the bent position of “l” to the straightened position of “k”, because it was all she had time for, and I was slowly turning my head to where she was almost pointing (I say “almost”, because she actually only started to raise her right hand in order to make this distinctively human gesture), but before any of the details of the black blur that was hovering on the outside came into my sight so I could deduce the shape of a hovering spaceship, in that very moment they took her away.
My way from home to the office lies through the dense city outskirts, littered with food packaging, crushed tin cans and cardboard bits scattered across the dark asphalt. I move past yet naked spring trees, rigid factory buildings towering on the horizon, pulpy green hills, someone’s deep wrinkles and soft hairs waving in the air. Right here in my hard seat, slightly bent over my phone, I’m being carried an insignificant distance on the surface of this old planet as misshaped moons keep hovering over the empty Martian seas.
Everyone is static. There is no movement in the corner of the driver’s eye. She stands in her cabin, in front of her wheel, her glance strictly parallel to the shiny lightrail, lips slightly open in attempt to phrase the unphrasable. There is no next stop, this route is not going to end, this highly improbable quantum state is going to last forever in the the vast backyard of the filthy multiverse.
It was a cold sunny day when I landed in San Francisco. North Korea was sleeping. Germany was sleeping. A very young astrophysics student with ancient Greek name and Russian roots was sitting on the windowsill in Berlin, his eyes and mouth open into the sweeping suspension of the approaching dawn, but other than that, it was calm and silent.
I’ve just moved all of me from one side of the planet to the other, whisking above the everlasting Arctic ice inside of a pale grey pixel, indistinguishable, nonseparable, compressed with all my unobtrusive luggage and overwhelming immigrant fears into one airplane tracking line that reflected in my mom’s glasses: board 431 has arrived, welcome to California.
It was a cold sunny day smeared across the glossy Earth’s surface in sight of invariable Sun shining on all the bowed backs and high foreheads, glinting on sharp wineglasses and silent lips — not really distinguishable, not really tellable, compressed into one pale blue dot among everlasting strands of dark matter above windblown unearthly mountain peak.
I’ve posted a photo of my new house on Facebook, captioning it “Finally home” — just to convince myself I have one — as the dimensions kept unfolding, and matter mixing into the thick cocktail of emptiness.
Quite recently I found my old notebooks — the ones I had before the internet, before it started to hiss and whistle in my dial-up modem, way before my digitalized friends started to blink in the corner of my eye asking for some attention and paying me off with likes and shares. It was blank, paperback, plaid and lined time — the very end of it, to be precise — which I luckily caught out.
Notebook one, 1999. It starts with the words: “Property of I. V. B. (my nick at the time — J. W.), O. S. A. Corp. (my imaginary enterprise at the time, I don’t remember the full form), if found, please return to owner at…”, the letters are big, shaky, they have shadows and wannabe gothic decoration on them. In “Contacts” field stands my old home phone number — the one that was always busy due to the legacy interlocking system that forced us to share the line with some other guys we didn’t even know — next comes the email, one of my first — or, more accurately, first dozen of emails that I’ve created in my pursuit of perfect nickname while killing time at dad’s work computer. Shaded letters, splashes, booms, all that stuff.
Next page is the diary entry from November 1999. It takes some time to decipher my awful script (it only got worse with time), to put the letters into words, to reconstruct the writing, as if it was ancient hieroglyphics, the puzzle pieces come together, and suddenly it starts to glow. Crippled letters and blurred ink unravel themselves, disentangle like a DNA helix, it clicks with my mind, my imagination finds the memory rail, and instantly I see my quindecennial self being synthesized right before my eyes — safe and untouched, as rosy and pube-mustached, as cracked and torn, as innocent and blond as I was when I was writing this — without even thinking to publish it and collect some acknowledging likes.
I turn the page, read another note, put the notebook aside, I take another one — year 2000 A. D., it says on the cover, first page design is pretty much the same, it is followed by a quick pencil note made at 4 a. m. — I even remember that morning, right before my birthday, in the middle of the summertime haze, warm, bright and empty, I couldn’t sleep in my spacious whispery flat, parqueted floors reflected the dawning day of my seventeen, I sat on the corner of my bed and wrote down what was in my head. I flip though, next few pages are blank, a couple of random scribbles appear here and there, then a smiley, an ink stain, blank pages to the end. It was the moment I went online.
It’s 2015, October 19, I’m 31, this notebook is property of J. W., if found, please return to owner at address so and so, this is the first page of my new diary that I write for no one. It’s important to do things for no one, because they store your DNA for the future you. It’s important to sometimes live for the universe rather than live for other people. To me, it’s good to sometimes produce this stuff that’s not intended for human consumption, that rather keeps the dark matter dense enough to hold the galaxies together, as I tend to think.
I’m closing the laptop, turning off the lights. It’s 12 a. m., I should’ve been asleep an hour ago. There’s something that forced me to break the schedule again, and this something is now contentedly strolling away, obscured by the night clouds that run over the thin October moon.
A young mom takes a walk with her little child on a sunny cloudy morning. The kid plays in the sandbox, mom stays put, staring at her smartphone, swiping / sliding / scrolling kilometers away. She’s interneting. Kid fills the bucket, taps on the side of it with his toy shovel, takes another scoop, carves solid icy sand, carves again, gets what he wants — another bit of dark greasy soil in his shovel, puts it in the bucket, just to top it — it’s already full — lays the shovel aside, it’s been a job, it’s going to take some time to get it done, but for now, he deserved a little break.
He stares up at the naked trees, at the sky, at the block of flats they’ve walked out of half an hour ago today, and the day before — actually, they were doing it since the day he was born, he was born here, brought to life, conceived also here, not in that exact block but in the neighboring one, that’s just the same as this but of another color, one can tell it when the weather conditions are good — but they aren’t, and therefore there’s nothing in particular up in the sky that could attract kid’s attention, so he disappointedly moves his stare to the mom. She’s still into phone, she’s not looking, and there’s a little smile passing over her face as she continues to swipe — she had probably just found something funny.
She notices the kid is looking and quickly throws that smile at him, still quite vulgar, nasty, definitely not a kid-targeted raw adult smile.
“Hey,” she says, “what’s up honey?”
“Mommom,” answers the kid, clattering his shiny plastic shovel in the bucket.
“Mommom!” repeats mom, smile still aimed at the kid, eyes slowly migrating to the phone.
“Mommom!” begs the little one, seemingly losing interest in conversation.
“Mommom,” she repeats, fully back to the phone.
The kid is staring at the sky again. The sun is going to pop out of the cloud for a little second and he can’t miss that.