It’s taken me a long time to recognize how bad my memory is. It’s partly because I forget how much I forget. There’s an obvious paradox in this.
I have trouble remembering specific times I’ve forgotten things. Instead what I remember, as a kind of placeholder, is the fact of my forgetfulness.
Late in life my paternal grandfather developed Alzheimer’s. The disease advanced quickly. Within a few months he could no longer recognize anyone, not even his wife. In broken, incoherent sentences he would tell the same story over and over, unaware that he had just told it.
I never saw him happier. The disease melted the sorrow from his face. Suddenly his eyes, which I had never noticed before, sparkled. He was free.
He says he can’t heal because he can’t feel time. By time he means the difference between himself in the past and this moment. It’s this difference he can’t feel. Time is the difference between moments.
The interesting part was coming home in a state of shock and noticing what that was like, how mixed up my thoughts were. To figure out what to do, I had to ask myself what a person in my situation should do.
Not me, a person.
This morning I played a game I often play. I thought, “You can have any woman in the world you want, but you have to decide in the next sixty seconds and the decision is permanent.” As always I ended up with a choice between two ex’s.
Who would you choose?
I’d have to pick one of my many perfect childhood babysitters. Or maybe I’d just choke. How the hell do you run through the gamut of all possible women, and commit to one, all in 60 seconds? The answer is Diane Lane. Of course if I were serious about it, I’d probably pick an ex-girlfriend too, because you gotta go with what you know. Maybe I’d pick Atlanta Danna. I don’t know. Has it been 60 seconds yet?
Recently I considered Jessica Lange. I like Jessica Lange. But how old is she now? 55? Also, not knowing Jessica Lange, it would be a crap shoot.
Plus there’s the problem of what would happen if this actually happened. Isn’t Jessica Lange living with Sam Shepard and don’t they have kids? What happens to Sam and the kids?
Jessica Lange with a time machine.
Diane Lane without the time machine.
Ah, I didn’t think of a time machine. Should be allowable. Still I don’t think I’d choose a woman I’ve never slept with. What if things don’t fit? That can be sad.
Also I don’t know who Diane Lane is.
My final choice is J in the fall of 1994, right before I broke up with her the last time. I would have picked an earlier J, circa 1988, but that one still had her lesbian phase to go through.
Please google Diane Lane right now. Good god, man. No wonder you have so much trouble playing this game.
Also, if you’re going to include readiness of the love object, the game falls apart. The whole thing involves stealing women from the present dimension and carrying them off to one in which they reside with us. If this were possible in this dimension (mutual desire, “readiness,” etc.), the game would be unnecessary.
Actually, I think the fantasy element of the game – why it begs to be played – consists of escaping the real world difficulty of commitment. If only one could be forced to stick with one’s choice of mate, rather than having to reaffirm it periodically over a lifetime, through re-observing (if not re-inventing) who they are. It’s not who you pick that’s important (which is obvious from the fact that we reset and play over and over again), but the ironic joy of making irrevocable decisions over and over again….
The subway walls in New York are embedded with tile mosaics that spell out the names of the stops. These mosaics were created long ago, by forgotten people, and are routinely, numbingly, beautiful. The individual tiles, now faded, resemble irises; they have the same patternless pattern of colored flecks.
This morning while pacing the subway platform, I noticed the tiles around the words Eastern Parkway. My eye was drawn to the s in Eastern. Looking closer I saw that the curved edges of the s were constructed from broken fragments of tiles. Once, long ago, someone stood here and cemented these tiny shards in place.
That’s all. While pacing I noticed some tiles and stopped to investigate. Then the train came.