Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Endless Loop - Pam reviews "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and dwells on dinner and the nature of Human Existence

I was fourteen years old when Jimmy kissed me on the forehead and ran off with his friends.  To this day it plays in my mind on an endless loop. 

Even this evening as I drove down Beverly Boulevard chasing the sunlight past the place the motorcycle cop lays in wait, past the all-night taco stand; and always ahead the neon glow of the Western Exterminator sign looming over all from the top of the hill, with its pink blinking rodents scurrying around the perimeter.  When suddenly beautiful Beverly Boulevard, depending on your perspective, dumps you onto or delivers you unto, Temple Avenue.  And now at the  bottom of the hill in the darkness, the road becomes bumpy and a feeling of gloom comes o’vr you  that your soul cannot resist. 

There is my bank, there is a restaurant I had a glowing dinner with friends, there is the vet where Tuxedo died and where my face streamed with tears and now only feels like a dull ache like the feeling when Jimmy kissed me on the forehead and I knew it meant nothing to him and that at the same time, nothing would ever be the same for me again.  And I was right because what I glimpsed in that moment foreshadowed all that was to come for the next twenty years.  Of course I didn’t dwell on it, that inner certainty, that taste of inevitable despair, instead I glowed, I beamed, I flew to the sky on gossamer wings and basked.  There was a lot of basking. 

There are a few things I have on the list of things one oughtn’t to do too much of in life, one of them is basking, the other is dwelling.  The difference between basking and dwelling is subtle but critical.  One basks in the glow of wonderful memories, one dwells…well one usually only dwells on the most painful moments.  Of course there is a correspondence with how much one basks to how much one dwells; Highly debatable if it is worth the trade-off.

Then there are those occasions where one can actually bask in the act of dwelling, a truly perfect moment,  like the moment right before you find your balance on a bicycle, a moment where you could fall, where you are in fact falling, but you don’t.  That moment is there, almost imperceptible but there, and very…very…hard to hold onto.  But if time were to stop at that moment, the moment would be a state of bliss.  Something to appreciate, to hold on to for all time, something that  will come to you again right before you die, like a kiss upon the forehead.

Tonight at dinner Guru’s attention was so attached to the screen of his iphone that he didn’t even look up when I took out my iphone and took a picture of him, which I texted to him, which he opened and looked at and then posted to his Facebook page, and I then looked at his Facebook Page on my iphone and saw the picture of him taken by me, looking at himself while I looked at him.

After dinner, we went to the theater to see a film about an unsolved murder, set in Sweden.  The movie told a story that spanned a long history of the Finnish Winter wars and the invasion by Russians and then Nazis and the toll those events took on the lives of the innocent.  It opened a window into the world of the Swede, a place where the dark places of the human mind find easy purchase, a place where cold and geography create isolation and a despair that is refined, distilled until it becomes something more like a texture than a mood.  A place where alcoholism and suicide find a comfortable existence, a place where these have a certain logic, something understood, something that is inseparable from other parts of the human existence, something that just is.

And as I watched that movie about those people, who as it happens, are the gene pool from which I descend, I felt my connection to that cold and isolated and refined inevitable world; a comfortable place I know and take for granted.  Something I assumed was part of the fabric of human nature, so unquestioned that it was not until I arrived in California that it dawned on me that this was something that wasn’t common to all people, but maybe only to those who came from the cold and the darkness and the isolation of the Finns and the Swedes. 

I was quite uncomfortable in the company of the people of the warm and the sun and satisfaction of good connections with their communities.  From my icy perspective, they rang false, or at best, like innocent children who did not really know.  They did not know that life was, in fact, miserable.  They did not know that people were not to be trusted.  They didn’t not feel, as if they did, how could they be happy?

And so I watched this movie, a movie where the heroine is a tall, thin, angry, boyish dark haired girl who rages against the world.  And she made sense to me because she was, for all practical purposes, me, in my youth.  It unfortunately made me want to get my nose pierced, which hopefully will wear off if I spend sufficient time out in the sunshine.

As it turns out, there isn’t much to be angry about in Los Angeles, there isn’t something definable to rage against, eventually my guard has dropped and I find more and more inclined to bask and not to dwell.

1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful writing. I enjoyed it. You should write a book, I found your writing very engaging. I read it three times. Other things I read I only browse but your style got me reading every word.