Sunday, July 4, 2010
In The Theater of Red Twilight
We walked down a narrow alleyway, an inconsequential little street I knew from another time full of gentle repetitions and harmless routines. Now, even though we were still in the world as we knew it, even though the cars still honked at each other in the broad main street we had just left behind us, even though there was still the sound of drum machines and glasses clinking against each other coming from the bar that stood in front of the spot where we left our car, even though people still turned away to avoid our eyes and there was still a general sense that there was a world and that it moved in its usual ways, the ways we had come to expect from years of recurrent reassurance, even through the world was still normal, whatever it is that we really mean by that, even though all this was true, there was already a sense that something was different, something was not as it should be, something was already in the process of changing.
We turned into an open black doorway, a gateway that led into red and black shadows. We stepped into this other world and by then, by the time our feet had crossed the edge between two lights, it was already too late, the change had happened and all that had been vaguely prognosticated by the tiny hints outside came into full manifestation before our eyes, under our eyes, all around our eyes. The world then ceased to be a rough mixture of faded colors splattered over gray concrete and blue asphalt. Instead it became a thick sepia that invaded our senses like smoke, a dark twilight that covered our faces with a sense of a long awaited goodbye, a final embrace before the looming journey. The long walk up the stairs finished formalizing the change that had already been evident as soon as we stepped into the twilight. The stairs were dark red and the banisters were covered in gold or in something that looked like gold in the shadows, and we quickly surrendered to this new state of things, to this new world where the rules had changed and consequences flowed in all directions.
Mother moved slowly and I was painfully aware of how slowly she truly moved, slower than I had realized, slower than ever. I slowed down my own movements so that I would stay by her side and it was clear that the walk up the long staircase was a very painful journey for her increasingly fragile body. She exhaled loudly every few steps, took a moment to rest and then made an effort once again, holding on tightly to the golden banister with wrinkled weak white hand. I helped her when I could, and I talked to her so as to distract her from her discomfort. I talked of anything and everything that came to mind, as all words had changed meaning as soon as we crossed the doorway and I was still in the process of discovering what there was for me to say in this new chamber we had only begun exploring. Soon we would be up where we needed to be, soon we would find our seats and begin the process of waiting. After a space of uncertainty that had lasted weeks, now everything was clear and certain, everything rolled like a mechanical train on perfect tracks across a red landscape frozen in time.
It had been harder than expected to be here. It had been easier than expected to be here. Both sentences were equally true and neither would surrender its truthfulness to the other. Neither could be resolved by pushing down on the other one, neither could be broken by the cutting sharp edge of the other one’s knives. Nor were they neutralized by each other’s presence. They were both true in a way that was resonant, a way that staked its claim to reality in a radiant pulsation that could not be denied.
My heart was hurting in a way that I had learn to accept, it was no longer truly painful, it was more a kind of intense pleasure that was difficult to sustain, something that would be delightful for an instant but which became like torture when it went on for minutes, hours, days. Here, in this world of twilight, the pain increased with each step up the staircase. Up, up, up we had to go. Further than it seemed necessary. All the way up, as high as it was possible to climb. And Mother was moving slowly and breathing heavily and I was making an effort to keep on talking, even when the air itself seemed so thick that I could only barely manage to take it in and then use my still open eyes to explore this newly discovered land of murky brilliant shadows. There was pain in the air itself, a pain that mirrored and resonated with the pain that I felt within me, but it was not being talked about, not by me, not by anyone else. It only floated on the surface of the twilight like a shallow coating of transparent milk, only barely visible if one looked at it sideways.
When we found our seats, the place was still mostly empty. There were small groups of fellow attendees that talked incessantly, maybe doing what I had been doing as I walked up the stairs with Mother who couldn’t speak. It was then, when the seats were mostly vacant and there were only a few people here and there looking to find their place in the red and black world, it was then that I began to realize it, it was then that I began to notice that I knew everybody, every single person there, everybody. I noticed that I knew them all or that I should, or that I would, or that I could. Everybody. Every single one. All faces jumped out at me with a burden of stories that I could only barely begin to disentangle before another face stood in the way, also carrying a new offering of memories that I couldn’t place, dreams I could not remember, unknown places that I couldn’t shake away, false histories that I tried in vain to disentangle from others that were true, others that I believed to be true and yet here they had become undistinguishable from the others.
There, that old woman, did I not spend years working with her, in weekly meetings in a basement off of 16th street, surrounded by smoke and the smell of old printers and photocopying machines, did we not share a hundred hardships travelling over land to Central America, trying to learn to haggle with merchants of the road, trying to deal with soldiers who looked at us as intruders and possible victims, as vulnerable strangers who had clearly overstepped their bounds without a clear sense of consequences. No, that never happened. Not to me. Not to the me that could still remember walking in here with Mother, walking up a red stairway and moving through the red twilight. Not to that me. There, that young girl in a black dress that revealed her slim brown shoulders shining in the twilight, did we not love each other desperately in a house in the Sunset district, just a few blocks away from the ocean, thick brown curtains and empty cartons of Chinese take out spread all over the floor, a stereo playing old rock songs in the room below us, the sound of waves in the distance, always seeming to come closer, closer and closer, as if the salty water was about to burst through the windows, splashing us with its taste of cold freedom, did we not become drunk with each other’s ecstatic exclamations for nights and days and more nights of sexual abandon, long hours when her body became mine so completely that I could no longer distinguish where her flesh began and mine ended, moments when her eyes rolled back towards the top of her head and I recognized an instantaneous and eternal Nirvana in her momentary silence before breaking into thick exhalations of physical recovery, did we not stay like that, together in her private darkness, until it all became too much and we had to say goodbye, if only to save our lives, our individual sanity, our sense of place and time and memory? No, that never happened. Not to this particular man who now sat next to Mother, waiting for something to happen, waiting while everything was happening all around us already, waiting for another event in a sequence, just as events themselves seemed to have slipped out of sequence altogether and were now fumbling about in all directions, without a clear sense of cause or effect. There, the overweight man with the little black beret, did we not play protest songs for years, did we not learn to know each other’s musical habits so well that we no longer needed to plan ahead for a performance, did we not learn to perfectly harmonize each other’s improvised melodies, did we not smoke marijuana for days on end until we no longer needed to speak out loud to hold a long and rambling conversation, until the distinction between music and silence became irrelevant and the sounds of the city itself became our endless lullaby, did we not together find a kind of silent love that was only possible though acoustic guitars and the gentleness that came with the sound of nylon strings vibrating? No, that never happened. Not to the one who now writes these things that you are reading. Not to the one I have come to know as me.
“She is bound to be here,” Mother said and I agreed. She is bound. To be here. She is bound.
And there, that girl in a thick white shirt and long dress pants, did we not meet in a faraway place of thick sweat and long green leaves and the recurring calls of endured hardship cutting through the thick heavy air full of black smoke? Did we not turn each other’s lives around in a whirlwind of passionate love and obsessive desire that changed what could have happened and what never did? Did we not discover that all things that are so pleasurable are also paid for at a very high price and the price is never stated clearly at the outset? Did we not learn to forget what we had known and ultimately stare at each for only seconds at a time while cold entities of the world decided our fate and dictated our divided future? No, that never happened. It couldn’t have. Not to her. Not to me. Not to the one who looked down at her as she walked up the steep steps between the red seats that were quickly filling up.
“There she is,” Mother said and then she was silent. Unsure as to how to proceed. Did the moment call for silence or for an outburst of speech? Did it call for roughness or kindness? Did it call for empty gestures or subtle sincerity? And if we took one route, would we ever find out what waited at the end of the other one?
I smiled and waved at her and she approached us, smiling tentatively, as if embarrassed to show her underlying happiness, as if swallowing into herself years of decisions that had turned her past into a soft gooey mulch and her present into a many colored vortex made of living questions.
I reached over the metal barrier that separated us and I placed my arms around her shoulders. I kissed her on the cheek and she smiled when I did, she smiled hesitantly but truly, she smiled from deep inside and her face had just a bit of trouble catching to her inner impulse. Then she greeted Mother as well and Mother responded with a smile and a warm greeting. That was all. No true silence, no true explosion, and yet a silence of sorts, an explosion of a certain kind. All in that one passing smile, all in the kiss, all in her eyes. She left, to join all the others that were here, all the others that I knew, all the others that were here that I didn’t know, all the others that I couldn’t know and yet I did.
We had come one last time together, here in this twilight world, to pay homage to a dream that had been slowly dying, a dream that it was finally time to release into the great open void so that it could be finally broken apart, ready to be reconstituted into new dreams that none of us yet suspected. I knew it. Mother knew it. We all knew it, even if some would have been very reticent to express it, even if some still vainly struggled to keep it alive. But it was no use. It was time for a dream to die.
Some souls did cling to their dreams more tightly than others. Some still screamed for armed revolution, for a free Cuba, for an insurrected freedom that would slide through the sweat of cracked brown hands and reinvigorate the earth itself so that it would become fresh and new again, all in a cloud of burning gunpowder and young men in improvised sweaty red masks. Some still believed, some still wished to believe, even here, in the theater where all such things had to finally come to an end.
“Sueña lo que hago y no digo
Sueña en plena libertad
Sueña que hay días en que vivo
Sueña lo que hay que callar “
“Dream what I do and don’t say
dream in full freedom
Dream that there are days in which I live
Dream what must be kept quiet…”
It was to dream that we were here, and it was his job to lead us in our collective dream through the shapeless shadows of emptiness, it was his job to lead us back to when the colors of the old stories were full and strong and they hadn’t yet faded into barely recognizable hues, to bring us back to a place of collective hope that sparkled with the incandescent shape of infinite possibility. He appeared so suddenly that there was no time for wonderment, it was simply him and he was there, in full physical form in front of us, something that couldn’t happen and yet it was happening, now and not later, now and not before. And once he was present, there could be no further questions.
When I felt that I knew him, that he was clear and evident before me, and that I shared the life of his dreams and that I shared their death as well, their long agonizing decline, then it was clear that I truly did know everyone here, as much as they knew me as well, as much as they knew me so well that they would search in vain within the valise of their memories for a clear signal, a solid reply, something that would finally tell them who I was in their life and why I was here, why we were all here to listen to this man tell us our own dreams that had slowly escaped from our grasp.
His voice was soft and pure as always, crackling with age and experience that wasn’t quite there in the recordings I remembered, and yet a young boy still peered through the gaps between the syllables, letting us know that nothing ever truly ends, it only goes into temporary hiding. And yet, in those times when it is hidden, it is as if it had gone forever, it feels that way, it feels like the colors won’t ever return, like life had been banished and it won’t ever come back. When he sang, everyone responded, people screamed with exclamations that came from deep within them, deep in their bodies and deep in their shadow minds, spontaneous invocations that proclaimed the ideals of a time that had already passed, a time that was already a double exposure on the old black and white photo of history, a wish that had turned its eyes from the future into the past but we just didn’t quite know it yet.
I could only wonder if this theater of dark colors, this theater of gold and red and sepia that was itself revived from a time that nobody truly remembered, I wondered if this theater had never really been opened at all, if in fact this theater was still closed and forgotten even as we all sat within it, and we were all just wandering ghosts that had been called forth by a master magician that had sneaked his way into an empty stage, in the hope of reviving voices that had long been kept silent.
“Hoy llevo el doble dando coordenadas
pero nadie contesta mi llamada.
Que puede haber pasado a mi senal?
Sera que me he quedado sin hogar?”
“Now I do my job and send my coordinates
but nobody answers my call
what could have happened to my signal
could I have been left without a home?”
Each of them that I had loved, each of them that I had lived a long life with, a life that was as much mine as it was theirs, each of them was a lost segment of time that I could vainly hope to recover, an old photograph slowly dissolving into nothingness under an unforgiving rain. And so it was with her, the one that sat behind us, only a few feet away, so close and yet so far away, so familiar and yet so strange, so present and yet so absent But maybe it was only that the memory of her was freshest within me, maybe it was only that I could still smell her sweat and taste her lips, maybe it was that her one memory had jumped out among the others and projected itself into the past so intensely that it had blurred away all the others, made them less tactile, less firm.
Each one of them gave me their memories, and to each of them I gave mine, and to each of them I silently called, even if it was only by looking and looking and looking again, into their clothes, into their bodies, into their faces, into their shapes cloaked in twilight. There had been no clear response, no clear reaction that would let me know that there was someone on the other side. But I knew that they were there.
It was difficult to know when to call and when to wait. Here was a moment when an outside force had been necessary, something greater than any one of us, something greater than all of us combined, and this great outside force had turned into a guitar and a small man, a man so tiny I could only barely see him, down there in the bottom of the great theater where he was almost lost in the enduring twilight of red and black and gold. This tiny figure with a voice so sweet, so tender, so forgiving, he was the one who now called and we all responded, in a way that obliterated all differences, it was a call that we couldn’t help but answer, it was a call that emerged fully formed from deep within us, deep within the us that was not a plural but a singular, the us where we could no longer be distinguished into me and you and them. It was only much later that we could then say that it was a man, that what we had seen and heard had been a man, only a man, a man playing a guitar on a stage, so many feet down below us, so far away that he was almost lost.
There was a call, a signal, and an answer, and in this place of darkness and ghosts, we all found a home and in this place we were also to finally understand that all homes are temporary, that everything truly changes, changes as much as we could have ever imagined and even more so, that everything must end sooner than we expect and that what is left is always, will always be, as beautiful and perfect as what was there to begin with; that it will then, as now, be our duty to find once again the beauty that we thought was gone, the beauty that was only hiding. The tender call of the tiny man with a sweet voice, the call told us all of this, and we responded by becoming one, by becoming one as we always been one but had forgotten, we responded by remembering and forming the lost home that once we had so yearned for, the lost garden that we had dreamed of, for so many years, for so many eons, for so many lives.
“Hoy viene a ser como la cuarta vez que espero
desde que se que no vendras mas nunca.
He vuelto a ser aquel cantar del aguacero
que hizo casi legal su abrazo en tu cintura.
Y tu apareces en mi ventana,
suave y pequeña, con alas blancas.
Yo ni respiro para que duermas
y no te vayas.
Que maneras mas curiosas
de recordar tiene uno,
que maneras mas curiosas”
“Today would be about the fourth time I wait
since I know that you won’t ever come back.
I have once again become that song of the tempest
That made hugging your waist almost legal.
And you appear in my window,
Soft and small, with white wings.
I don’t even breathe so that you can sleep
And you don’t leave.
What strange ways
We have of remembering
What strange ways…”
And it was the fourth or the fifth or the hundredth time since I had known that you would never return. It became clear one day but, like all such days of intense clarity, it is now lost in the subtlety of its own absolute knowledge. Big empty things are easy to remember, true knowledge is easy to forget, all it takes is a moment of distraction, a moment of looking elsewhere, a moment of falling in for an old habit, a moment of saying those sequences of words that you know so well, saying them quietly to yourself while nobody is listening, saying them in the most silent voice that exists, the loudest voice that rules our dreams, your dreams, my dreams, and then it is over. We have once again forgotten and it is time to start again from scratch.
And it was that one day I knew that you were gone and you would never come back, maybe it was a windy afternoon with a gentle sun that refused to fully show itself and refused to fully die, or maybe it was very early in the morning and the birds were just starting to sing outside my window and maybe one of them was click clacking with its beak against the glass and I thought of you and knew all I would ever need to know, or maybe it was a dream where you sat by a rolling cliff, with your long white dress rolled up to your knees and your eyes down turned as you told me “I understand what happened but she won’t ever understand, and so I won’t ever come back, even if I want to, even if I really want to…” Maybe it was none of those and it was some other time, some other dream, some other afternoon that was as lost as she was. But one thing was clear. It was too late, definitely too late, much too late to try anything, even if I still would keep on trying, anything, everything, much like an actor that continues in their role minutes and even hours after they have left the stage, maybe even hours after every single last member of the audience has gone home. So I would continue to try, I would continue to call and explain, and come up with new ways of saying what I had already said, and I would run my eyes over a white wall marked by graffiti while I heard your voice through my cell phone, saying “yes” and saying “no” but always saying the same thing, the thing that would not break apart, the thing that somehow withstood all my attempts at contact. I would continue to try even if I knew it was hopeless, even if everyone around me knew it. I would continue to try only to fulfill the temporal shape that was my duty, the duty of my role in this drama of which I form only the tiniest part.
But I knew, ever since that moment of clarity, that the result was already written, maybe I knew it even back then, when that other woman of wisdom said “she will do what she will do, you can’t stop that from happening, just be as kind as you can be and let things go where they will..” and I listened and knew that she spoke the truth and that it would be just as she said that it would be but I still had to try, I still had to make an effort, I still had to sing the main theme as softly as I could manage, even when it became too soft for anyone to hear.
And now, when it was so late that it seemed that the bridge that once connected us had altogether disappeared (even though I still felt it, I could only resign myself to knowing that you had bombed your side of the construction, destroying it permanently and making sure that it would never be built again) then a window opened, and you came through, a ghost being called by another ghost for the sake of a third.
Did I call her or did she call me? Such questions become pointless when you sit in an enormous old theater full of ghosts, an abandoned husk where only wraiths can congregate. We all called each other through the voice that we manifested from nothingness, the voice of our purest dreams, our most hidden fantasies, our most perfect heavens, our most desired hells. And there she was, soft and small, and I couldn’t bring myself to breathe much, so that she wouldn’t leave, even though she had to, sooner than later. It was all such a delicate maneuver, holding onto a single instant of time long enough that it would become eternal, and then it would make no difference if she left or if she didn’t, then it would be too late, for we would once again be together, forever, like before, like later, like always.
Where we then remembering the lost dreams of a generation or the private dreams of two people that swam in each other’s waters so deeply that we nearly drowned and only barely managed to come back to find the light? It was both, there was no distinction here in the world of the twilight. A voice had seduced us into believing in revolution, a voice that I once only knew as an old fragile cassette tape that had to be hidden under layers of wood and clothing, so that soldiers would never hear it, so that soldiers would ever find it. It was the same voice that had seduced us, me, us into believing in eternal romantic love, one single voice, here manifested as a small man with a guitar, almost lost in the shadows.
To believe that all things could change and become as they should be and stay that way was as illusory as believing that two people would be joined once and for all time, and nothing would ever come between them, that all it took was that single moment of recognition in a narrow living room of books, small paintings and diplomas and that single moment had enough fuel to last a lifetime. Two illusions, two symbolic beliefs. In both there was a true eternal effort that was occluded, in both the effort was hidden by stylized drawings made in chalk, in both there was hope without work, there was belief without knowledge, there was wishing without sweat.
But the voice itself was made of effort, it was made of work and of knowledge, it was made of all that we had hidden from ourselves, its fundamental materials were in the shapes that our minds could not decipher, it was in the curves in the air that we had come to call sound, it was in the mathematical symmetries that we have come to call form, it was in the repeated patterns that we have come to call beats, it was in the nothingness that curled up around itself to become something, even if it was only briefly, even if it would eventually return to the void.
We took the voice in, but we only took part of it. And we came here now to listen again, maybe this time the message would at last be completely received, maybe at last it would finally come through with all its truly shining colors. Maybe some of us, maybe one, maybe later, maybe now.
But before and after, there would be that you that smiled for a single moment, there would be that you that offered her cheek and took my kiss as if we had always been together, as if nothing had happened in between that first kiss in the living room and that new kiss in the theater of ghosts, there was that you that was shining through trembling eyes, the you that looked downwards with an innocent embarrassment that once seemed to have died under layers of acquired sophistication and anger. And you were an old thin woman that I used to know, a “gringa” that helped me when I was sad even if it wasn’t your job and we had much more important things to do with our time, what with the war and the violence, and you were a young girl that I used to know, a girl that kissed me with tenderness in the darkness of an afternoon touched by sunlight and reminded me that days can last forever, that days can last too long, and you were a fat man that I used to know, a man that, after too many songs would lean back with a hand made joint in your hand and would point out my mistakes with such sweetness that I couldn’t help but laugh and accept and try to fix them, and you were a brown girl that I used to know, a girl that stood by a black window in the middle of the night and offered all that you had to give, offered it all to me, even if you didn’t know who I was, even if you didn’t know who you were, even if you didn’t know what you were giving. You were all and none. There was only you and there was no other. Nothing, no one, nobody other than you. And I could only hold my breathing, hoping to hold you for just that instant of recognition, and that instant was all I needed, that instant was all I could ever have. You that came and went, as you had to, as you would have, as you always would, as you always will.
“…esta la escribi porque cuando era chico en mi cuarto habia un grabado de dos angeles que llevaban a un chico atravez de un puente…”
“I wrote this song because of a portrait I used to have in my room when I was young. It showed two angels who were guiding a young boy to safety across a bridge…”
I leaned back and gave myself to the red darkness and allowed him to sing purely into me, I allowed the theater to fade and all the others who were my true companions to fade away as well, I allowed the shadows at the edges to grow and grow until they swallowed all and everything that was around me. When I was done, he came fully into me, in a way I didn’t know was possible not too long ago, in a way that was easy to forget. I saw across the gap that divided us, for he was only a man, a man with a guitar, a man so small and so far away that he nearly faded into the same shadows that had already swallowed everyone else in the theater. I saw light all around him, bright clear light, and I saw the same light around the beings that were around him, the ones who were his companions, the ones who were his help. I saw that here, in this chamber that was truly eternal, completely separate and away from the flowing current of time, as eternal as all true chambers are, I saw that here they were the guides and it was my job to let them guide me, to let them take me where they wanted me to go and to simply follow. I focused as much of my attention as I could manage, trying to release all that had previously distracted me. There was no further reason to think of you, I had swallowed you in that moment when I kissed you and you now lived within me, as strongly as you ever had, and there was no further reason to think of the old woman, or the thin young woman, or the middle aged musician with the beret, there was no further reason to think of Mother who believed, who still wanted to believe even though I could see the belief sliding out of her skin like tears flowing from every pore in her body. There was no reason to think of anything or anyone at all.
And as I let them into me, as I let it into me, for in that moment they were no longer several but one, one that was several, and as I saw the bright light that was there all around them, all around it, I suddenly knew them for what they truly were, I could see then what had been hiding. I knew then that belief ended tonight, there was no more use for it. There had been a time when belief was necessary, there had been a time when without it the entire world would have turned to a strange nothingness without a beginning or an end, a hot soup ready to explode to form the universe of twilight in which I now breathed. There had been a time for belief, but that time was over. What was left was only clear light and a voice, the real sound of waves moving through the air, waves that were the gift of the Absolute that is nothingness, a gift that I received and tried to transform in my own way. That was all I could do, that was all I could ever do and I was finally truly knowing it, now and not later, now and not then, now and not forever.
As belief faded away, what was left was not a vacuum, it was not sadness, it was not disillusion, it was not hopelessness. What was left was five figures in the distance surrounded by bright clear light, and the sound of ghosts responding, grunting and screaming and singing and calling, and it was Mother sitting quietly, with wide open eyes and shifting hands, and it was all the ones that were here and all the ones that were not here for this one night (for there were so many that were heavy and present in their absence), all that I had ever known, and all that I could ever know, for they were one and the same, they had always been so, only now it was evident. What was left was all stories and all legends and all myths, all breathing and living here in this place that had gone past the boundary of belief into the gaping mouth of the twilight.
And just as I had swallowed you, it swallowed me. I surrendered, and in surrendering, I allowed myself to be guided and I went where they took me with no wish to return.
“Si no creyera en la balanza
en la razon del equilibrio
si no creyera en el delirio
si no creyera en la esperanza.
Si no creyera en lo que agencio
si no creyera en mi camino
si no creyera en mi sonido
si no creyera en mi silencio.
Que cosa fuera”
“If I didn’t believe in balance
in the order of equilibrium
if I did not believe in delirium
if I did not believe in hope.
If I did not believe in what I work at
If I did not believe in my path
If I did not believe in my sound
If I did not believe in my silence
What would it be?”
In the end, some would release and some would hold on, and that was the way it was, and that was the way it should be. Some would call for the words that they knew, screaming their requests over and over, demanding that the guide should speak in the precise way that they desired, in the phrases that they were accustomed to hearing. “Sing the song about Chile! Sing the song about Nicaragua! Sing the one about the Bay of Pigs!” Some would simply proclaim their love in a thin trembling complaint that would echo in the halls of the old theater and then be lost without reply. “I love you! Thank you!” But all of them, screamers and silent mouths alike, they would all know that they had gone somewhere, somewhere that was not so easy to reach, a place that they very rarely went to, a place they might not find again in a very long time.
For me, for there was still a me even if it had been blurred into near complete dissolution, even if it had been rendered completely out of focus, and yet there was still something within my breathing body that clung to a presence, to an identity, something that could set out the limits of what was possible and what was not, something that could plan and worry and lay out entire worlds in great detail, for me I could sense that as belief vanished, only clear and intense work remained. Even as knowledge came over me, it immediately tried to escape, it tried to fly out of my ears, it tried to find a secret door out of the pupils of my eyes, it didn’t want to be here, in the here that was me, the here that I still imagined was me, this me didn’t want knowledge to reside here.
Soon it would be gone, there was no way to hold on to it for too long. But the passing of knowledge would leave behind a trace, and I had now learned that a trace was enough, a trace was all that was necessary. I would use that trace as a map, a map to that place where an eternal question could be answered: what would it be if I had none of what had made me, if I had lost what I had been? And the answer would not be a word but an action, and the trace spoke of the action in just enough detail that I could begin to act. That was all that I needed, that was all anyone could ever truly need.
“la era esta pariendo un corazon,
no puede mas se muere de dolor,
y hay que acudir corriendo pues se cae,
por cualquier hombre del mundo,
por cualquier casa,
por cualquier casa…”
“The time is giving birth to a heart,
it can’t handle it any longer
it’s about to die of pain,
and we must go to help it
we must go running
for destiny is about to fall.
We must do it,
For any man in the world,
For any house,
For any home.”
Here, in the final words, was encapsulated all that I had seen and all that I had been unable to describe, all that I am still unable to describe even if I persist in trying, all that escaped from between these sentences that I now try to put in some semblance of order, something that might approximate a clear communication. It must undoubtedly fail in this task, even if it will dissipate into incomprehensibility the moment it is touched by alien eyes, even by my own eyes after some days have passed.
It was that time, the time when we all dreamt of a change that would be unchangeable, a change that was not touched by the dirt, by the shadows, by the night, a change that we would all bring about together and that would save all of us at once, it was a time of flowers and guns and strong unified calls and lonely horrified screams of ultimate loyalty, it was a time far enough away to be forgotten but not so far that it couldn’t once again be remembered, here in this final theater of twilight. Everyone here, Mother, me, you, her, him, them, we had all tasted of that same dream and we had all lived long enough to see that it, like all other things, was bound by change and by the law of falling. It was drawn in blood and blood must eventually turn to dirt and rain and ocean water, and all things that were united once must some day be spilled apart, and all things that break apart hold within themselves the possibility of uniting once again, one of many, many of one.
And so we all had dreamt, we dreamt wide and far and in all the imaginable colors. And here, in this theater, the Real, hidden within the illusion, had come back to pull us back up, to pull us through the narrow gap between Mother’s legs, to pull us beyond the words we had known, the words we would always remember, it had come back to tell us, yes, the time, this time, this age, is birthing a heart, exhaling a heart. It is happening. It is happening now. We, you and me and all the others, we were that heart, we are that heart, now, not so many years ago, not in the past, and not in some future that is yet to be determined. It was here once again that the time breathed and was ready to give birth and it was us that were born from it. We had come as ghosts and we had returned to life, even if only for an instant, a brief instant that was more than enough for eternity to hold, frozen and perfectly alive. We would leave as ghosts once again, but that instant would remain, like all the others and maybe even more so.
As we left, some of us stayed behind, trying to hold on to that moment a little longer, trying to grasp at the wet remains of a wave that had washed over all of us and was now returning to the unknown place from which it came. I saw a woman staring at the closed curtains with a sense of loss, her eyes lost in a sadness that couldn’t be placed because it was not borne of matter. I heard a man trying to put into words what had been spoken to us from a land where words don’t matter. I felt the crowd wishing that it could always be so, that the grayness didn’t have to return, that the colors could remain.
We walked out together as we had come, Mother and I. It was clear that we had always been together, for this night held Always within itself, it held Always in the palm of its sepia colored hands. We were back on the street but the theater still lived within us, and the voice was still singing behind our ears, still whispering in phrases of delicate perfection. It was only temporary, this separation. It was only temporary that we drove away, that we began to talk as we were bound to, that we began to worry once again about the future and the past. She would look for money to pay the bridge, I would worry about my schedule for the next day, wondering how to best arrange the various units of time.
It was only temporary. Sooner or later we had to return. We had to return to the theater of twilight, we had to return to the encounter with the ancient voice, we had to return to the songs that flowed like mathematical flowers swimming over oceans of infinite fractal complexity and simple rainbow perfection. We had to return.
And when we did, we would find ourselves once again in the presence of the one true voice, the one voice that had so many shapes, so many names, so many bodies, so many songs. When we returned, we would realize, once again, as we always did, as we always had, that we had never left, that we could never truly leave. And even then, we would realize, that soon we would forget again and an old song would start all over again.