A piece that is neither essay nor fiction nor memoir but all of them and none of them (390 words).
We ate emptily to fill the void the stars left, rode and re-rode the Journey Through Inner Space ride at Disneyland, sailed eons and parsecs with Neil deGrasse Tyson, sat shotgun with Captain Picard Take Me With You. We dreamed of being whisked away—exploring moons, planets, nebulae—abducted by aliens and taken somewhere derision didn’t sing down on us for the egregious sin of walking while farting (jet propelled!)
In high school, we had been that kid—the one people threw bologna at and talked about, but no one actually knew. Who sat alone at lunchtime every day with her back to a classroom wall, fell asleep during lectures, pierced her face with safety pins, and got arrested once for Photoshopping demons attacking the school.
Say what you will, your words can’t penetrate the thickness of my core.
Escape? Is that what this is about? No, of course not. It’s about the hunger for horizons unbounded, no barriers, the Real. It’s about maddeningly staring into a vast universe of possibility we can’t touch. It’s about knowing, not believing.
We don’t want fiction. Show us. Let us clench it in our flesh, smell it, breath it. Out there beyond the glare of the afternoon, beyond the echoing monotonous cooing of doves.
What else is there, except the traffic sludge of the commute? We are not going to find it this way. We seek contexts wider than the proclamations handed down from pulpits to congregations that fan themselves against summer heat and flies. Deeper than the transcendental. Gritty and grabable. Concrete and huge.
It is wholeness that kid seeks at the end of her journey, hope that sits at the bottom of the Pandora’s Box of darkness, bitterness, reaction, spit, dreams, fire, flashes, fights, rage, hiding, pursed lips and attitude. Life, unbounded.
But what we have instead are nights under the dome of a billion points of light that aren’t metaphor, glowing touch screens we glue ourselves to as distant worlds of rock and mottled patchwork crackle at us from lonely robots, our explorer-hands in the cosmos. Don’t tell us we are wrong, don’t tell us to be afraid. It’s too easy to sneak that up on people, too easy to sucker them in. We stand tall. We will find a way find a way or kill ourselves in the process.