Sunday, February 26, 2006
Back at Nothing
[Not sure if I ever posted this...I wrote it a while ago and shelved it. But on a night when I'm feeling wistful in the waning hours of my escape from my New York life, it seemed somehow appropriate to share it now. --EDK] I was sitting there at dinner with him, when I felt the change, like a click of a gear, or my breath stopping, or heartbeat skipping. It wasn’t anything he’d said, or his tone or body language that told me where I was. But suddenly, everything was altered, and not in the way I’d hoped for. My mood went from mirthful to mournful in a moment, and something in my eyes or face must have changed, too, because he noticed the shift. What’s wrong? he asked. Nothing, I said, because nothing was all I had to say. In the beginning, when I think there’s something, it all comes down to nothing. I thought he felt something, and he felt nothing. Nothing ever happens. Nothing is what it seemed to be. Nothing is what I’d expected—nothing but hope, that is, and hope has once again amounted to nothing. And there was nothing else to say. At that moment, I had realized where I was again. Back where I always end up. Wherever you go, there you are and always have been, as I always am, regardless of miles traveled on highways or through occasionally turbulent skies; regardless of the presence of leg or cleavage shown or the suggestive tint of lipstick; regardless of the hope springing eternal and the belief in my intrinsic, still-unacknowledged worth; regardless of how closely I’d listened and how well I’d understood. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Back at nothing is where you are when you realize that you’ve misinterpreted everything at every possible turn. Easy smiles and emotional nakedness do not a romantic connection make. In fact, the recipe may differ from circumstance to circumstance, city to city, but the resulting dish is always disappointment: yields one serving. Once again, I’ll be dining alone. That moment of a hushed eureka was one of pure understanding, pure disappointment. It extended beyond the reach of ordinary silence. There was simply nothing else to say.