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Essay-a-week

Moments of absence

As I try to type, my fingers feel foreign and heavy. I’ve been gone a while, that goes without saying. My wrists crack over the keyboard and I can’t help but shift here and there and then here again in an attempt to find a comfortable position in my chair. Unfortunately, there is none. All there is and all there has been for a month and a bit, is an unchanging screen that flickers back mockingly, and behind it is an author who is stuck persistently rocking back and forth between his words as he tries to type something worthy of rectifying his leave.

He’d probably tell you that it is pretentious to call him an author and he’d laugh at how pretentious he was using it in a sentence. He’d be sorry for it all, though he’d remember that sorry doesn’t cut it. He could say that he was busy, though he would know that everyone was only as busy as they wanted to be. He could tell you that he has failed many times in writing this article. Seven times exactly. July 29th. August 3rd. August 4th. August 18th. August 29th. He’d tell you he was born a failure – he couldn’t even come out at the right time. Then he’d tell you he once thought that failure was akin to success but he decided to change his mind. He’s failed so many times in the last while that he can’t remember what success is, and if he were to have it, he’d consider it a failure because he wasn’t failing. Most of all, he could tell you he was I and he, like I, was an idiot jumbling words together.

But he’ll save you the trouble of an apology. In the Universe, there are no new laws of thermodynamics, and like the Universe – where everything was, is and ever will be was created at the very beginning and all of it will always be constant even at the end – he remains unchanged. You know this. I know this. So he doesn’t apologize, except on the rarest of occasions. Most of all, he doesn’t write excuses. So he’ll save you from that too. Instead, he’ll tell you how to begin again only to end again one day. In short, here’s how to live in between the moments of absence.

*

The following are passages that are taken word for word from his/my journal drafted during the period of August 5th to the 23rd while in Europe.

It started with rain. “Welcome to Holland.” Her accent lapped over the cabin as she tried to awake me from my reverie. It wasn’t exactly sleep. To be honest, I barely slept any. An unshakeable nostalgia gripped me as I offered a weak but assured grin her way. She flung one back. Fleeting. Hesitant. I turned my head towards the window as we passed over the coastline. I could have been anywhere – tanning on a beach in Papa New Guinea, trekking among side penguins in Antarctica. Yet no matter where I’d go, I would still be haunted by the problems and burdens that I tried to leave behind. I think that’s why Ninka, a Dutch citizen, welcomed me. To remind me that I was a world away, and it was still raining.

*

Somehow after arriving at the hostel, we made off to the Van Gogh museum. I realized quickly that I was not intellectual enough to feel deeply moved by a painting. Otherwise, I saw a woman sobbing. She stood there, in the middle of the museum, blurrily staring at one painting and crying. It was silent beside for the shuffling of feet. I am not sure if I could ever claim to some higher form of sentiment like her, but I did feel an inkling of passion for one painting. It was of a field with dark skies while crows flocked over a blanket of golden wheat below. For a second, as I gazed at the colours falling over one another, I felt as though I was a scarecrow in that field and I was caught in the exact moment when the crows realize I’m only made of straw and I look helplessly as they perch onto my shoulder and I wish I was made of thorns instead because that’ll show them and the crows come and go and I stand there forever and I’m riddled with holes where I was poked at and I am unchanging year after year and slowly my clothes fade and I tell myself I never wanted to be a scarecrow because I was never really that scary anyways and I think I’d be great at dancing if only someone would get me down from this pole and even the crows don’t help and they are my closest friends and I’m so lonely when their gone, even though I was built to make them leave.

But the moment passed and I was on to the next painting. Still nothing, though.

*

Johnny didn’t think Obama was going to win. It came as a surprise. I was so far away from American politics that I didn’t think that there was ever a question on who would win and who would lose. He said that he hoped to God that Obama would win but he didn’t think God was watching. I said that we should take care of ourselves and let the big Man care for himself and that way, we won’t be stepping on each other’s toes. He went to get another drink. I guess he was taking care of himself afterall.

*

She was red. It was kind of ironic, really. She was born into this world through a sea of red and she decided she should come back to it. To some, it must’ve looked like freedom but I could only see chains and whips. I guess that was kind of ironic too. It wasn’t my irony that got me to ask a question though. Out of unbridled curiosity, I asked her price. 50 Euros. She smiled to me. “For you, hunny, less.” Great, I thought. Flirting with a prostitute. Yet my very inner core imagined the whole exchange, as if it all happened. “Oh, I guess that sounds lovely.” “You don’t even know the beginning, babe. Come in.” “Sure.” I’d walk in like I owned the place. Inside, I hear moans and screams. It’s a human orchestra of sorts, mostly with large flute-esque specialists.  A door closes after walking forever and I find myself in a room lit up like a Christmas haunted by some staunch yet indistinct sadness. “So baby, what do you want?” “I guess to get to know you.” “What?” “Your name, what is it?” “Blow Queen. Wanna see why?” Her tiara is all too fitting. “Uhm.” “Don’t be nervous hun.” She’d massage my shoulder. “First timers are always nervous.” “Not nervous – I just think we should talk a little first.” “Talk?” “Yes.” Silence. She sits on the bed and fluffs a pillow. “All you boys are the same.” “Excuse me?” “You want to save the prostitute. Always do. Either through sex or the lack thereof, you all try to liberate us some way. Baby. I don’t need saving. I chose this salvation.” “I don’t want to save you. I want you to save yourself.” Silence. I put my hands in my pocket. “Get the fuck out.” “Blow, I’m sorry. Please.” Silence. “We got off on the wrong foot, Blow. Let’s just talk for a bit.” “About?” “Anything.” “You’re fucked.” “Maybe in a bit we will.” It’d be a joke and she’d laugh and then we’d talk about how politicians are pretty much prostitutes, philosophy, ethics, how to cook a baked Alaska, what a baked Alaska was in terms of sexual positions, sit silently and listen to everything around us, and finally, take my money and tell me to come back anytime because she had so much fun and hoped I did too. I’d say that I hoped that she wouldn’t be here anytime but that I had a nice time and her name should be Nice from now on. I’d tell her it was a nice name and we’d laugh one more time. I’d notice her mouth was red and realize we – from one of the seamen on the bridges flocking to the brothels to the families asleep in their bed – are all just redness. Blood. Muscles. All red, red, red. She knew this before me and so, chose the red before the light or dark, right or wrong. Because in this world, not all things are black or white and some things were never meant to be, us included.

*

He took a picture for his girlfriend before he took one for himself. “I want to show her my friends.” Je, a South Korean who studied in Utah. For four brief hours, we knew each other. I bought him a beer. He bought me one back. I was his friend. He told me so. Funny he could say that. Funnier that I could too.

*

I wonder if we were meant to fail. And I mean really fail. Humanity has strived for perfection for years on end, and I think that despite it all – from the fields that become battlefields to the diseases that we breed ourselves – the closest thing we have is music.

*

On both sides, the wall crumbled. I stood right there in the middle of it. It was a city divided. From monarchy to the Third Reich to every little regime in between, the city creaked with a history of separation. The people seemed indifferent to it all. They walked past the wall as if it wasn’t there. I thought that maybe they didn’t want to notice it. Maybe there are some obstacles people just try to avoid. And maybe worst of all, avoiding it led to the atrocities that saw the most insidious and vile actions by mankind yet. I understood that this was impossible, though. We cannot avoid some things. As it were, we are simple minded creatures, and despite four billion years of evolution, we fail to act the part.

*

I am drunk. It’s embarsssing but things happen and always will. I gave up on philophspical conjecctuing. I lack both intellect and vigor to. Even my speling has failed and my sentences don’t make sense. Probably many …illegible scribbling. Though, I’d like to believe I’m smart enough to look at the Victory Column and spur some poetry. I tried. Here: poetry is made by men and men made the Victory Column and both can be moved and both can fall and both will do both. It isn’t Shakespeare but …illegible scribbling. Whats the point. I have run all my life, and nooow as I race this pen against my increasing tiredness, I realize that I run from what I cant catch. I …illegible scribbling.

*

No one knew it yet, not even me. The sky roared a magnificent yellow as smoke faded away into the inky jet-black night. With each bang and boom, a thunderous applause bellowed. I stood awestruck against it all – night turning day, fire becoming work, and a hand clasped against mine, hesitantly but clasped nonetheless. I thought the moment was fleeting, a little flicker of light in the darkness. But only as I pen this and I reflect on the moment, however brief, however improbable, do I understand that it was under a blanket of fire where I fell in love again. Or at the very least, I would give it a chance.

*

I must’ve sat in the seats of Norways’ delegates because Os-lo as they were, I didn’t feel comfortable in the UN. In fact, there’s Nor-way that’d I’d go back. Really, though, I think the problem was manifold: 1) I thought of puns most of the trip, 2) the building was situated by the League of Nations, an institution that had already been dismantled, and 3) despite the overwhelmingly good the UN has done, I had experienced none of it nor did I really know about it. Perhaps it was because of my ignorance, but I think it was something worse than that. It is the evil, the failures, and the absolute disasters that are remembered in this world rather than the good. So, all I’m really saying is that I hope no one will remember my bad puns, pernicious as they may be.

*

I wrote a poem. Want to hear it? Of course you do. You are me and I want to hear what I write because no one else will.

“In spring,

there will be flowers

and

in summer,

they will blossom.”

Unfortunately, my poetic skills won’t.

*

Not much to say because the days have been so packed that I’ve barely found time to write. I guess I’ll save words for tomorrow. All I’ll say is if you are ever lucky enough to find friends in your life, cherish their presence. I won’t go off trying to philosophically convince you of this. There is no philosophy that should ever dictate you on how to chose your friends, and if there is, then consider it the kind that makes you learn more and more and leaves you no more wiser than you were when you started. I’ll tell you something philosophy won’t, though: friends, keep them. Because in the backdrop of the Eiffel tower, they look bigger and shin brighter than it.

*

In the roughest of storms or the calmest of seas, in the patched redwood forests of Canada or in the sultry heat of the Sahara, in the arms of a brown-blue-green eyed lover or in the aftermath of tears that are sure to follow, you’ll always have something to say because you’ll always have words. Use them as they are here – to last forever.

*

People say there is nothing special about this painting. Maybe they’re right. Who am I to say otherwise? I know little about art, even less about correcting other’s steadfast opinions. I will say, though, that most art critics are wrong: she is not smiling. Mona Lisa, or whoever it really is, was simply caught unaware like a camera before the flash. What she is, and what she has been doing for 400 years, is being naturally unadulterated. No filter. No lens of objective truth. Just a little grin or smile or whatever you want to call it that is plastered on her face and has captured the world. That is why she is unaware – because we all are, and so we flock to her, only to get caught gawking at her beauty.

*

My entire life, I’ve been wrong. I have looked left when I was meant to look right. Who knew the world looked different if you just turned your head one way instead of the other?

*

Prince Harry apparently has gone off showing his crown jewels. I wonder if he was celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee in his own diamond-studded way. This, though, pales in comparison to my wonderment of what the guards protecting Buckingham Palace think. Prancing around senselessly, they are already the poster child and fanboys of a million pictures annually. Now, their fame has abated. I guess I’m wondering if it’s jealousy. They have to wear stupid uniforms and some people just take their clothes off and the world seems to care.

*

It all ended off with an applause. The words of Shakespeare came to me as I was watching the Chariots of Fire, “All the world is a stage and we are mere actors.” What would someone think of my trip? I barely knew what I felt. It started as a means to get away but had transformed into a metamorphosis of sorts. I didn’t feel stronger. I didn’t feel wiser. I felt older, tired, and exhausted. I had the impending thoughts of school looming over me. I realized how far behind I was on my work. The reality of not publishing on my blog slapped me in the face. Burdens would come back. Troubles would amount. I’d have a million of questions asked and I’d provide few answers.

Yet no matter what would come and no matter what would happen, I’d do it all over again. Because like Europe, which stems from a culture of decrepitude and heartache, there is always another day, whether you want to live it or not.

About kacperniburski

I am searching for something in between the letters. Follow my wordpress or my IG (@_kenkan)

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