Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

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Such a strange time in life.

The aquarium water has been dropping for a while. Lowering a bit, day by day. Evaporation and all that. Day after day—another day, another day, and then it’s a week and then it’s a month and every day is a tick, and they sweep past. Tick, tick, tick.

The seasons are changing. It was dark when I took the kids to Taekwondo, and snowy. There was a night when I was taking pictures out the window and there was the whole winter wonderland thing going on. Coats, boots, driving slow to try to make sure that nobody gets hurt and the car doesn’t have to be replaced and all that.

In, out. Nights. Weekends. More snow. Garbage man. Postman. Store. School drop-off. School pick-up.

Tick. Tick.

Now it’s light outside when we go to Taekwondo, and light outside when we come back, and light outside for hours afterward, and nobody wears a coat, and we are talking about going to the pool.

© Aron Hsiao / 2003

Nothing is happening. Nothing at all. And the thing is, nothing can happen. There is no here here. This is not a place. I can walk outside and—nothing. I can walk outside and walk a mile and—nothing. I can walk outside and walk three miles and—nothing. I can walk outside and walk ten miles and—nothing.

Nothing is here.

Nothing except us. This is what the kids know. They have that sense of space that comes from the west; this is normal to them, I wouldn’t want to force a change on anyone; the situation is just barely stable enough to be livable as it is. I remember how it was when I was their age and my parents moved; I hated it. I didn’t understand why I didn’t have any input into anything. I didn’t like to have my whole life put into a state of upheaval just because—because what? I didn’t understand.

And all that. And so on. Etcetera.

No, I wouldn’t go anywhere just now. And yet there is nothing here. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

Where are the buildings? Where are the cabs? Where are the people? Where is the smalltalk? Where are the chatty lines? There are no lines. Nobody is in line. It just takes hours because nobody is in a hurry, either. Nobody has any place to be because there is nowhere to go. Nobody is waiting for public transportation. It’s hard to tell whether or not there is public transportation. Everywhere you go, nobody is there. A body, maybe two.

You have to hit the jackpot to have a conversation; there’s nothing to choose from.

We were on a field trip today and the girl giving the presentation was from somewhere around here. She interrupted her sentences in the strangest places to take these deep, interrupted, sudden breaths because she was yelling all the time, mixing up her vowels (they do that here; it’s the dialect). It was hard to understand her, and I can understand anyone from anywhere, any accent. Except, sometimes, the heartland.

Where do they come from, these people? And then you spend three hours out and about and you run into a total of four people and it’s transactional because they’re all busy selling you something over the counter because there are no actual pedestrians on your side of the counter but you, and even then, that’s who you run into.

© Aron Hsiao / 2003

Choice is the great modern amenity, except here, except in people, except in these environs.

Seriously, nothing. Ten miles I could walk in darkness. I’d pass maybe four cars in four hours. And it’s 10:30 pm. And they call this a city.

This is where I live. The mountains are tall, and they’re right there. They don’t have any names that anyone knows, though the names are in books.

What there is to do is get in my car, drive a lot, go into stores, and buy name brand goods quietly. Or, go “join up” somewhere. Join a meditation group, join a fitness studio, join a meetup, join, join, join. Enroll, so that we’re all on the list, so that we know who’s coming and who’s not. I could drive 40 miles to hit the bar scene, but it’s full of the resistance. They’re scruffy and they assume meat, and they want to talk about Mormons, and they use a lot of four letter words. I think it’s mostly the four letter words that get me, which is funny, because I’ve not necessarily been known for my decorum either.

Ten miles and nothing. Silence. Your own thoughts. You can walk forever. Especially now that it’s warm. Someday, down the road, I’ll move on again, finally. How many times is it now?

Go somewhere where you can step outside your door and exist. Accidentally back into someone, knock their bags down. “Oh, sorry! My bad!”

No walls, no registration, no need to join. Dirty sidewalks.

How many times is it now?

Tick, tick, tick.

Such a strange time in life.

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