Totality I;

There’s a cast of characters I dearly miss.  They’ve split: left the

region, settled down, died.  Most will be missed.  Some, not really,

but I either tolerated them in their totality or enjoyed the chaos,

weed, or booze that they brought with them.

The programmer.  Not sure if I miss him or not.  Self-taught in

computer science, he probably thought I was a dumbass for not

knowing all of the ins and outs of C++ and robotics.  He’d explain

something two, three times; he might as well have been speaking to

me in Gaelic.  It certainly was a language barrier of sorts.

But in all the translating, I thought he was heroically determined

when he’d talk about all-nighters coding, Python indentations, and

Raspberry Pi, which I still think is a silly name for a single-board

computer, but hey, the thing’s fruitful, what can I say?

He once said to me that we were going to be the next Woz and

Jobs: billionaires.  With stock options up the ass and gold toilets to shit

in.  Or something like that.

“I’m going to program [insert idea for the week here], and you’re

going to get the world to buy it.”

“Oh? Well, how does it work?”

He’d unveil, painting a picture of me onstage like a kitten in dim

footlight, sharing some profound and ground-shattering wisdom.  I was

half onboard when I actually knew what the fuck he was talking about.

He went to work for the military for a bit, something about drones,

something about classifieds and can’t tells, something about a two-story

rental for $1,100 a month.  It was a resume-building detour.

He’d come back after about 5 months.  Things were different, like he

underwent Fort Bragg for nerds.  Saw him a few times after that, and he’d

apparently doubled down on learning JavaScript.  Long gone were the

days of micro-dosing LSD and watching Nosferatu in a cluttered home

office.  I wasn’t bothered by it, I’d changed, too.

We’d smoke a bit here and there, but I was more drawn to alcohol

at that point.  I was getting my feet wet and starting to find the spin in my

wheels.  I’d take the most conservative hit imaginable from a technicolored

one-hitter, and shift my attention to the booze cart.

“What do you say, shot?”

It was only 2 PM and I had nothing to do, nowhere to be, no one to be.

Simple: I just wouldn’t answer my phone.

“What do you say, another shot?”

I’d get about three in and be in that familiar state of bliss, the one

where that existential, solar knot in the chest—above the stomach, neighbor

to the heart—recedes and unties itself.

We’d add music to a queued up playlist and bullshit about philosophy,

Macintosh computers, and Silicon Valley.

He saw himself there like a fly sees itself on shit—feeding off of it,

securing his landing and flying off when finished.  He loved the idea of the

West Coast. He just needed a laptop, decent wireless internet, and his pipe

dream would become a real PVC reality: Paying Venture Capitalists.  Throw

in a few drawers of pajama pants and you’d see him when the Pacific dried

up or when the frozen TV dinners ran low, whichever came first on the road

to innovation and giving people more plastic technologies to buy.

Me, I’m more of a Pacific Northwest kind of guy.  Or maybe Northeast,

I haven’t decided.  I could see myself in a one-bedroom cabin in coastal

Maine next to a diner and a rickety, well-lit candle shop, or in Seattle with

the Pike Place hipsters and their Kenyan blends.  Slot me in either top

pocket.  Just alter my scene.  Give me more than the dream of owning

acreage. Take this Midwest state and put it in a blender with the cow’s milk

soaps, wheat fields, and pawn shops with their blinking signs that say “We

Buy Gold & Other Jewelry!”  Blitz it all with ice from the cold February

freeze and pour in the finest of summer glassware.  Dump it down the

drain and out into the septic field.  Push it far away from me.

I hadn’t had many shares of glory, but I believed in him.  I still do.

Twenty miles of subdivision-lined country roads and highway is added

to what feels like 20,000 light-years between the two points of what

was once a friendship, but he’ll make a dent somewhere.  I know it.

Shit, he’ll probably even get me a pair of light-wash jeans and a black

turtleneck when he does.

What I understand is that life is where everything goes to die; it’s implied.

What a diagnosis.  It all grows up and gets the bad news.  Friendships, breath,

the stars, planets, the insects, the birds, love, all of the symphonic buzzing

of deep space; everything leading to one final, universal heart attack, from

Andromeda to Alameda to the arcs of event horizons millions of lifetimes

away; four corners stretched, that stretch losing speed.  That speed

approaching and becoming silence.  Just like growing up.

You know what?  I change my mind, I do miss the bastard.  He

reminded me complacency is a personal choice.

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