We were on page 72—cringing as the main character stepped onto the plane, knowing what would happen because of the foreshadowing on page 47. Her fiance would be destroyed in the next chapter, which might require tissues or a walk into the crisp night air.
Living in utterly different worlds, we were trying to collide on a day that was convenient and mild but ended up in the backseat of a taxi with a stranger who also didn’t have an umbrella in the sudden downpour or were passionately kissing the person we had met quite recently, focusing on the person’s name as the driver watched in the rear-view mirror in different movies on the same day.
In the desert, we dreamed of snow; in the blizzard, we wanted the tropics for at least a week or two; the residents of the tropics wanted to follow us home. All that wanting left holes. We were personalized snowflakes cut from parchment taped to somebody’s wall in an office where windows didn’t open.
We were on a boat, on an island, in an alley, an over-crowded temporary shelter, an empty parking lot when the electricity went out—a night dream, nightmare, feeling pleased, frightened, restless, or hungry. There was nothing appealing to eat, only bowls of rice and dry pancakes until we crossed the border in someone else’s dream for a feast that couldn’t be touched.
Parallel lines temporarily—until some of us took a sudden plunge into melancholy while others were able to jump rope through adversity, pay the bills swiftly, ward off anxiety, forget the mass shootings for a while, attend the small dinner party and know what to say, timed perfectly, avoiding topics of politics and religion.
Awkward most of the time, we were throwing darts into black holes to steady ourselves, sending money to charitable organizations or standing in line at the food bank, trying to make conversation with the person standing next to us instead of looking down and feeling stigmatized.
We were watching the sky from a well or an underground city when the tourists found us and sent a rope that some of us had the upper body strength to climb. The rest waited for first responders to perform their magic, sew up wounds, check for internal bleeding, any signs of self-sabotage.
Some of us were living in a melody on an untuned piano, a riff on a guitar missing a string, an aria in Sanskrit or Japanese, beautiful peonies that would last a week, if that, a calming presence, paddling up the river at night, watching the old woman feeding and singing to nervous sparrows, filing our taxes, clipping our nails, sitting in a philosophy class, waiting for Socrates to drink the hemlock, solving equations in other rooms to make the algorithms kind.
We were at a ballet of robots waiting for the intermission to grab a cappuccino, send a text, post photos or short videos of the robots on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, a meme, a witty observation, yesterday’s sunset, cloud reflections in the glass of skyscrapers, a link to an article about justice being served with a side of fire.
In the middle of a joke waiting for the punchline, uncomfortable with the racial profiling, in the center of a rice paddy or empty field, tilling it for sunflowers to lie down in all that yellow and become something someone else might want, grow into, become.