What if ideas were people?
Here’s a thought –
Every day I sit at home by the window, watching the rain glide across the glass. Songs on the record player pass and mugs empty one by one. But I never stop waiting for him.
I’ve made the place look and feel its best in anticipation of his imminent arrival. I’ve straightened the curtains, vacuumed the floor. I’ve planned all our meals. Got cookies baking in the oven and an enormous array of gourmet coffee. Soon as he walks through that door, we’ll be busy, all day and all night. We’ll need the caffeine.
The thing is, I know he’s coming. He has to. He promised. And it’s not like he hasn’t come before. He likes to come at inopportune times, when I’m at work and not at home, for example, or really late at night, when I’m getting ready for bed. While I’m out with my friends, he’ll come knocking and then leave and not come back for days. I’ve asked him to share his schedule, but he just laughs in my face. “I don’t do schedules,” he says.
Today, I decide to do something proactive while I’m waiting for him. I get on writing something for school I should have started days ago but have been putting off. I get into the thick of it, actually coughing up real words on paper, when there comes the familiar knock-knock.
I sit up and bolt to the door. I open it and there he is, smiling smugly, delighted at my surprise. He’s always been boyish and youthful, with long, unkempt hair and bright eyes. Freckles lightly dust his face, which never seems to require sleep to look healthy. Gee, he even brought flowers. It’s going to be a good one today.
“You ready to hash stuff out?” he says, waiting at my threshold.
“I’m…I’m kinda in the middle of something,” I stammer. “Can I just take it down in a notebook and go back to it later?”
He laughs. “Ha! That’s not gonna cut it. You gotta get your head in it. Now. Or I’ll be gone.” And he starts to step away, edging backwards from my threshold, back onto the sidewalk, to the world where he will be engulfed until who knows when. Before he gets too far, though, I reach out and grab him by the sleeve, him and his stupid grin.
I roll my eyes and sigh. “Fine, fine. You haven’t been here in so long I’ll let it go just this once.”
So we sit down at the kitchen table. I get the coffee going and I ask him if he wants dinner. He waves his hand breezily in response. There’ll be no time to nourish. So I thump down next to him, my stomach growling, but my heart beating quick.
Without warning, without even a “how’s your day?”, he starts talking. I listen, completely enthralled. I struggle to write things down, but he talks faster than my wrist can move. He doesn’t talk in a linear fashion either. He’ll jump ahead to the next topic, then circle back, then head to a completely different place perpendicular to our position before.
He doesn’t like questions. He doesn’t like to explain. And he’ll completely clamp up if you so much as interrupt him. You can never get what you actually want from him. He’ll always give you something else. And at the end of the day, could you even articulate to him what you actually want? What you wanted five minutes ago isn’t what you want now, now that he’s given you an alternative.
Sometimes I just want him to shut up. Sometimes I just want him to leave and never come back. But of course I can’t do that. My affection towards him is something I love and hate and cannot for the life of me explain.
We get into arguments sometimes. I think something should be this way, he thinks something should be that way. We don’t agree, and I know he gets off on that. A smirk of pleasure spreads across his face when I bristle.
But the worst part is when he leaves. He has no concept of commitment. I know I’m not his one and only. There are others, and they will get different things from him, and then it’s up to us to fight amongst ourselves as to who becomes the best, if better is even the right concept here. “You’re all different,” he says, “and I serve your different needs. I don’t go to one and not the other because one is better. I just like to spread different parts of myself around.” And I guess it’s true. If there were ten of him and ten of us, and each of his ten were entirely devoted to each of our ten, we’d all be the same, wouldn’t we?
The light passes, the darkness rises, and when that has passed as well and the new light is growing, I suddenly wake up. I hadn’t even noticed I’d fallen asleep.
He’s gone. Left before sunrise. I see his mug with a streak of dried coffee drip down one side.
Then I realize I’m wearing his sweater because it had gotten cold in the middle of the night. He hadn’t tried to get it back.
I put my head on my arms on the desk. Through the sleeves of his sweater, I can still smell him. His freshness – his ripeness, even – mixed in with the scent of coffee, burnt cookies, and ink.
He’s armed me for a long road ahead, but I have a new vigour. I don’t feel so alone anymore.