THE ABSENCE OF KNOWING
It always starts like this, though there is nothing consistent to be found, except contradiction. It starts with an empty stomach and full heart, things careening in a dizzying expectation born of stifled privilege. The paper open on the couch, in disarray, business section stuck to the tabletop, victim of spilt wine. A sense of unrepentant shock fills the small room, a hurried departure leaving the memory of stale smoke, an uneaten meal, the ruptured laughter of friends.
It was dark now but there was evidence that the flight had taken place during daylight; open windows, a coat left unworn on the floor on a cold evening. Sounds from the street played across the room's thick quiet. The only internal sound a records idle scratching in place in the corner, a local trio.
Perhaps the room wasn't empty at all, filled as it was with the affairs and odors of its inhabitants and their past, their future nowhere to be found. Perhaps the lingering sensation of undeniable transition, of unavoidable change, stung the quiet space and filled it honestly the way none of its visitors, locked in facade, could. No smiles or cultured wit clung to faces on the couch, laughing in spite of reality.
The window to the world outside was momentarily closed, the chaos of human civilizations, their disturbing expressions of platitudes and the spiraling, grasping attempts to render beautiful the decent into mechanization of organic humanism were left to the autumn breeze, turning in devilish piles of sun burnt leaves, illegibly bleached tracts and one dimensional advertisements.
Inside, immersed in quietude, another world rendered slight and delicate by the absence of voices, displayed simplicity and comfort rare and touching. Soft colors, hand turned bowls of red earth kissed by drops of translucent glaze, each catching light with absolute individuality, imagining the hands of lovers, of friends, the metals and stains of an infinitely complex composition of mineral poetry playing in hazard, imagination, and craft.
The walls were splashed with the visual music of human struggle, colors striking emotional poise near the corners, leaving vast and passionate emptiness between for the eyes of strangers to wander, filling their creativity with tastes yet unknown as one tastes water from the spring, cooling the throat and stomach, between swallows.
Without theme or seam the paintings, posters, and poems decorating the walls spoke of complexity and unity in ways that discourse only seemed to render in anecdote. People, peoples. The watching eyes of awareness no longer convinced of bountiful outcomes but ready to live in joy none the less, swept in a current of fragrant resistance, of potent defiance of uniformity and expectation. In denial of convention.
The furniture was primitive, rough edges, miters grown uneven with age, wood and tile chipped and certainly found, here in a pile outside a demolished structure, twisted in rebar like so many forgotten masterpieces, there in broken shards, glimmering with morning light, seen only by the restoring eyes of someone who dreams of colors, of shifting sands, of flight, of home.
Something comforting in the unevenness of the wooden framed mosaics, that spoke of a mastery of aesthetic if not of materials, lent the hurried absence an air of peril, of disruption.
There is, after all, no refuge from time, from the waves and grains of decay that soak our feet and splinter the most solid of edifice. The inhabitants of this space had departed, never to return unchanged as before. Though change, in cliché the only constant, stood like an old professor, a kind but insistent companion at all times, never had unforeseen shifts in the continuum rattled the windows and sent shivering through one of the two gentle lovers a questioning pearl of doubt about life's eventual outcome, in death, a well earned repose.
He, Jeremy, had stood in mid lecture, his lost composure unperceived by Camilla, tears filling not only his eyes but rupturing the serene surface of his skin in beads of odiferous sweat. The smell Camilla had always held so close as the essence of her passion was accompanied by something acrid and sharp to his nostrils, its presence sending him to the edge of his senses, his night's dreams returning to him, the paper falling limp and powerless onto the couch. He turned and hands outstretched for balance made no attempt at justification, he fled as he had never fled from this place of intimacy, where he had long denied himself personal secrets other than his unquestioned past.
Suddenly the lack of shelter from her emotional participation in his life was like the knife of a stranger, the looking glass of a voyeur peering into his confusion, though she asked nothing. She would ask, and soon, as soon as she glanced toward him, resting her eyes long enough to feel his flooding disquiet. This inevitable glance once so dear, so desired, suddenly stung his secret heart with its eventuality. He had allowed himself to forget, to lapse in his turbulent joy, to submit to the calamities of love and life and to evade once and forever these things that had transformed him at such an early age, into a phantom of his past.
Now her comforting love was an invasion. This fact, rendering his terror all the more atrocious, sent him collapsing into a personal realm, her feelings left in the dusk of his necessity for escape, his love momentarily overridden by panic and chagrin, sent him in flight toward a final resolution with his past, with a country forgotten by civility, to a place he had long refused to acknowledge, and to a person, perhaps the only, who could have known him better than her, or even himself.