HyperPalatable HyperObject

If you could fit the entire world in your mouth, what would it taste like?

Human civilization, its concrete pillars, rubbery telephone wires, and tarred roads, crunching under your teeth like a shell of hard candy. Bodies instantly reverted back—not to dust, but to meaty organic matter. No redemption. No romance. Do not pass Go. Do not collect your soul.

Fountains of urine and blood, liquid spurting as thickly as breakfast syrup from a clogged bottle. The human heraldic colors are yellow, red, brown, black. The shield is roped in chains. The crest is a crown not worth wearing. You’ll nearly gag on these slimy, fetid, chunkily bejeweled emblems.

The kingdom of nature tastes grassy, soapy, and bland. It is mostly texture that numbs the tongue. Layers of blue-green ooze, hairy leaves, and mulch. Try not to think of all the microplastic adhered to every surface. Saltwater follows, down your throat in a wave that lasts ten-thousand years.

Art tastes like nothing. Morals taste like nothing. Maybe, if anything, they come up in a floral, fungal burp. Love tastes like nothing. Evil tastes like nothing. Maybe, if anything, they contribute to indigestion. They may be something to look at, but they are the nutritionally void Red Number 40 and Blue Number 2 featured in an otherwise boring, dense, vaguely off-putting meal.

What does a sinkhole on the seafloor taste like? Can you detect its flavor in your mouth, amid the vast mountains of mush pulped together by saliva? What do my hands, feet, and eyes taste like—I’m guessing mystery meat gone slimy in the lunchbox? Can you consume it all in one gulp, and leave no trace behind?

The Fisher Princess V

The Fisher Princess I / The Fisher Princess II / The Fisher Princess III / The Fisher Princess IV

Max’s vision narrows, then darkens, like the spiral of a camera lens closing in on itself. Far below, she hears water lapping against the shore. Light, misty and moody, reappears from somewhere above.

A soft wind, warm as an exhalation, ripples through. Max won’t be able to recall what she sees here, but the feelings will linger forever. A sensation like waiting in a tunnel.

Max feels the stranger’s touch again, this time on her shoulder. Something inside her sparks in response, as though struck with flint. A tendril of information enters her mind, softly but assertively, stripping away any other thoughts, like a melody triggering a childhood memory. But it’s not a memory belonging to Max.

Max looks at the stranger in confusion. The stranger’s face has twisted into a pained grimace. She’s on the cusp, Max realizes, of breaking into tears. It’s like seeing her mother crying for the first time; the shock and fear are crippling, and Max’s hand, possessed by a longing for closeness that confuses her later, reflexively moves up to cup the stranger’s cheek. Her eyes widen. Instantly, a fresh, smooth, dark heat like moonlight radiating through space—

(more…)

Adrift in the Tokyo Reverie

Lavender Nikes, star-patterned navy blue leggings, and a puffy pink snow jacket. She is no older than five, and her mother is pointing at images of food items in a picture book, pausing each time to let her daughter identify and name them aloud. “Tamago!” she yelps, looking up for approval, and her immediate joy at her mother’s answering nod is so entirely pure and so hopelessly unabashed I have to look away.

Tall, like an overgrown weed. He stops me as I am exiting the subway to tell me his full name and that I am exactly his type. I am wearing a baggy, black-and-white sweater with a skull on the shoulder, ill-fitting jeans, and ragged sneakers. Not exactly the peak of archetypal feminine allure. There’s a nonzero chance that this is a scheme to entrap me in one of Tokyo’s many cults, but there’s a charmingly boyish breathlessness to how he waits for my answer, eyes shining anxiously, as though with tears. I briefly consider pretending I don’t speak Japanese but he doesn’t strike me as a creep or a threat (though “conman” is still, I remind myself, a distinct possibility), so I level with him.

“I’m already seeing someone,” I say, keeping my tone light, friendly, patient, without any hint of reprimand, like a kindergarten teacher explaining a moral lesson to a child.

An almost immediate rejoinder: “Then, how about being friends?”

I have to smile at how expeditiously he is managing the encounter, zooming from romantic hero to self-imposed friend zone without missing a beat. He doesn’t appear disappointed in my rejection, which is equal parts suspicious and funny. I ask him to tell me more about himself; this expression of interest in him seems to put him on the backfoot, but his answers are surprisingly bashful, earnest, and descriptive, eroding my distrust. His name is Yuta, and he is a college student who likes to surf. I tell him where I am from, in the vaguest terms possible, though not my own name.

Yuta, if you are not, in fact, a scam artist, I hope you are doing well today. Actually, even if you are a scam artist, I wish you well. I wish you the best of luck in love and life.

My mind is a wave breaking against the shore of my body. Sitting in a coffee shop, hands shaky around a mottled ceramic cup, I think about living out numbered days, one foot in front of tragedy until it finally catches up. I look out the window and spot myself, walking down the street. I am physically unassuming: short, small. My hair is long and unruly. It’s almost spring, and warm enough that I have traded my cable sweater for a soft plaid shirt inherited from my brother. I am looking up and forward, eyes distant but focused, as though I could discover some cosmic truth hidden in the sparse clouds on the horizon. But when it comes to this life, the less I know, the better.

Playlist for Twisted Psyches

A modern girl, she wakes with a tension headache from too much screen time. She checks her email, toothbrush jammed in her mouth, scraping distractedly against her gums. Eyes held away from her face in the mirror, towards the reflective gem of her phone screen, the bright primary colors of her inbox glowing, she jumps with sudden fear. A tersely worded message from a credit reporting agency has arrived, urging her to check her current credit rating or face the crippling fate of certain identity theft. It takes several attempts to log into the agency portal, her thumbs pushing hard against the glass screen as though she could brute-force it, heist movie-style. When she discovers the email is just a cheap ploy to get her eyeballs on the agency’s American Express offers, she throws her phone onto the couch, betrayal transmuted into stinging chemicals flooding her bloodstream. As if she had been warmly invited to a neighbor’s home, only to find, once at the threshold, that the invitation is a pretense to sell her Tupperware, or Girl Scout cookies, or a shovelware game involving glistening 3D jewels that will parasite on her phone memory, or a rectangle of hard silver plastic with a 20.99% APR .

Onto social media, that paradise of lethargy. Her eyes glaze over as she scrolls. She wants to stop, but to stop would mean leaving the insulated warmth of the algorithm. If the algorithm had a scent, it would be expertly blended, tranquilizing lavender, evoking a high-end salon, the satin inside of a wealthy woman’s handbag, a field of delicate cosmos flowers in a high-definition, framed print. Everything about the experience is designed for maximum minimum-effort comfort; its bedroom covers of achingly sweet songs, its pastel-colored infographics, its pithy parade of funny, lovable tweets. It feels good to be cushioned by the soft waves of gentle, non-threatening information. The chambers of the algorithm are inviting, and she moves among them in a daze.

Even when she is shown something sharp-edged, like a news photograph from a war zone, or a video of a stray dog limping along a road, the algorithm quickly moves to soften the blow, to anaesthetize the sting of the cut. This is how she can go from a clip of a woman frosting a cake in rainbow colors, to a partially censored shot of a bleeding child, mid-scream, to a sunny video of a musician in a suburban backyard, strumming a ukulele. Her fingertips travel across their faces, almost like a caress, as she passes them by.

It’s not that she’s unaware of the world. If anything, she knows it too well. She is a sewer rat swimming in blood, head held just a fraction above the current. The knowledge shimmers ruby-red just outside her field of vision. If she dives down into it, in comes a deluge that quickly overwhelms: headline after headline, bold lettering on a black background. The regular news is bad enough—murder in a parking lot, the moon full above, armed robbery gone wrong, yellow tape hastily slapped on the brick walls. But beyond the gridlines of the daily periodical, beyond the guidelines of the law, lies another world that the modern girl knows perfectly well how to access. Clicking on a few buttons opens a portal to it: a world of gore, hounds, and wild terror like a fast-moving river. Traveling through this hidden world is like walking an endless open field filled with deep, invisible holes, like miles of pockmarked flesh. Breathing quickly and shallowly as the sky coldly observes the creatures moving below, so dark the air rests over the body as thickly as velvet and as unsettingly as a stranger’s presence.

From a young age, the modern girl has seen content on the Internet that she should never have seen. In this, she is one pinprick among millions: a generation of half-formed brains in fully formed bodies roaming a desert of horrors. Shrill calls to 9-11, bootleg crime scene photos, forums for the suicidal, personal recollections of prolonged drug abuse that end suddenly one day in 2013, followed only by a reply gone answered (“does anyone know what happened to her?”). A feed of content that, like a medieval painting of the underworld, is red, yellow, orange, black. A hundred-thousand faces contorted into identical expressions of pain.

So many have judged the modern girl for her cynicism, her outward bitterness. They don’t know her nihilism is not a product of apathy, but of repeated exposure to unreasonable, inexplicable, unjustified, and deeply unfair pain, and to, particularly, her observance of this pain colliding against the high iron wall of generalized public indifference. She has watched, again and again, as the victims, bloodied wrists banging against the locked door and shuttered windows, are forced to withdraw back into the field, to fall back into its pits, again and again. There’s nothing as cruel as the way we live, so exhausted by the end of the day by the stupidities of what we do to earn money that we can do nothing but make excuses, skirt around the discomfort, and play endless cellphone games.

The cracks in her schedule—the thirty seconds that she sits on the toilet, or the occasional foray into the flesh realm, as she crosses the street or commutes on the train—are hurriedly filled with the off-white drywall plaster of posts, videos, and 500-word newsletters. She has to avoid even a second of introspection. When she looks up, she sees others doing the same. Another young woman, eyes hidden by the shadow cast by her woolen beanie, licks her dry lips as her pointer finger slides across the glittering diamond-face of her phone. The modern girl watches her, waiting for the traffic lights to change.

Down on my luck

I once read a short story in which a young girl living on the coast is alarmed to find scales growing along her body. With each passing day, the reach of the scales expands, like flowers seeding and transforming a field in a season. Reedy, wind-swept green blistered by pollen into a lake of tender-petalled forget-me-nots. By the end of the story, the scales cover every inch of her skin, and the girl is forced into the sea by the demands of the metamorphosis: a sad, unwilling mermaid. I think of the origin myths that cast humankind as a kind of ancient, aberrant fish that stumbled blindly onto land and never again regained entry into the paradise of the ocean. Now we live forever longing for the underwater kingdom, its sequin-lined surf, the swept-up bangs of its velvety waves that conceal the deep-set eyes of the millions of gilled, topaz-colored angels below, buzzing with bloodless mystery.

Imagine that we all retain the invisible coat of scales, an inherited legacy with an oceanic origin, the same way some Greek legends claim we are all halves of a whole. We go through the world lugging them around like a heavy coat. I hold a fallen one in my hand—a half-moon the color of a dull penny— and feel distaste grow into a wave of nausea. It feels like breathing in car fumes and feeling the heady haze of destabilization. To be too close to yourself, both the good and bad, to feel your weakness so acutely, to understand your failure intimately, to recoil from everything you are.

By building relationships, changing locations, writing words, I give away scales. Sometimes it’s close to a sacred act. Other times, it’s transactional. A scale for a scale. An exchange of trust. There are ex-friends, lost to time because of my neglect, who know a part of me, a black-eyed chunk preserved in amber, better than I do myself. Often, the loss of a scale is purely accidental, and this is how there are strangers in other dimensions who hold onto shards of me. The woman who saw me cry in an airport lobby, for instance. The older man who tried to pick me up, at 14, at a Spanish train station.

I have a few scales that I’ve peeled, not without some force, off my body and hurriedly buried in the topsoil of a municipal park. The children’s plastic playground equipment watches me carefully, as I look around in fear, wiping my muddy hands messily over the front of my jeans. Sometimes, the scales reappear, dirty but whole on my doorstep, and pitying myself, I bend down and slot them back into place.

The scales I have inherited from my parents are cracked, veined, soft gold and silver. If I press too hard, I unwittingly leave behind the permanent imprint of my touch. Maybe that’s why the scales feel worn-down to the point of crumbling fragility. They are a family heirloom in the realest sense, the product of touches from many generations, some much less well-meaning than others. A hand-me-down that has known love, pain, truth, threats, and wounds treated with too little medicine. If any part of me is haunted, this is it: the ground-down scale that jangles like keys at my wrist joint, its damaged sheen now closer to urine than gold, manhandled by men I never knew, but delivered with the rest of me at birth like a love letter, packaged in frilly strands of DNA like party streamers.

Some of these dead men visit me in dream, as if trying to repay the debt of their sin. Their arms are laden with gifts, as gilded as the artifacts of lesser gods. They have my mother’s sad, glittering eyes. “It’s too late,” I say, cradling the receiver against my ear with more tenderness than I knew I had. “I’m sorry, but it’s too late.” Their melodrama curdles then, into fury, into the mindless frenzy of a shark scenting blood, whipping cities of coral into pieces. I cast my gaze aside. You think I cling to this bitterness with any amount of satisfaction? You think I don’t wish it were different? I do, desperately. The punishment is as much mine as it is yours.

The most treasured scales are time capsules, not of “better times,” but of memories stripped of meaning, leaving only sensation. Sitting on a train, watching the Pacific fly by. Dancing with my adolescent brother in the kitchen, our cheeks red with embarrassment. Pressing my ear to the curve of a shell. When I die, pale and denuded, some of the scales will crawl back to share the grave with me. They will whisper to me of their travels. I’ll know, then, how far and how deep my soul traveled before returning, on its hands and knees, to me and my polluted seas.

The Fisher Princess IV

The Fisher Princess I / The Fisher Princess II / The Fisher Princess III

“Hi,” Max says. She gets up from the table, arms held stiffly at her sides. The stranger is sitting up on the couch, still wrapped in the sheet. Her face is covered in darkness, as though alighted upon by a black, tarry brushstroke. A thumbprint of charcoal. The braid swings across her back like a pendulum. Max wipes the sleep from her eyes like dragging a rag through a puddle, her heart rising, fast and hot as a cloud of steam, into her throat.

Max has awoken past dark a thousand times over in this room, but the dimensions of the cabin feel different now. The walls have closed in like the sides of an enchanted labyrinth. The night flexes, casting its shadows over the furniture, casually wielding its power to transform ordinary space by way of scattered moonlight.

She reaches for the propane lamp at the center of the table—her arm feels longer, her movements sluggish, her reach unending—and flicks it on. She meets the stranger’s eyes and is surprised by the plainness of her face. No trace of beauty there. But her eyes are shards of veined glass catching the reflection of the moon on the window panes, and she holds Max’s gaze with a sense of authority, of determination, that Max wants nothing more than to turn and run from.

(more…)

Yield to the serpent and the woman

Carpal tunnel, in its very early stages, sings through my wrist as I lift my hands to type. I make a mental note, for the millionth time, to sit straight, elbows tight against my chest, with my feet planted firmly on the ground. It’s one of many such notes, joining an eclectic, 80’s coming-of-age comedy posse that includes “Stop scrolling mindlessly,” “Eat more complex carbs,” and “Self-flagellation is what you do best, but it’s a talent better wasted.” A many-sided die spinning at high speed in the smoky air, an RPG game in which all outcomes lead to that final, darkly humorous message, written in cursive above my sleeping head: “You’re going to die, someday, and you probably won’t like it.”

Live from Nihilism News, edginess has been out of vogue in your generation for at least ten years. What we want now are the learnings embedded and wisdom conveyed by a 15-second clip of a manicured set of hands tearing the shrink packaging off a tube of luxury lipstick, followed by another clip of the same hand spreading the lipstick—sheep fat colored oxblood-red with chemical wizardry—along a freckled Cupid’s bow. That’s the philosophy we’re committed to now, and we will ride this rollercoaster straight into whatever pulsing, backlit, sponsored fate the future has available for free download.

Outside, the snow has been falling, in fat, fluffy flakes, for hours. Snow coats branches, windowsills, fences, bicycle seats and handlebars. The last time snow fell like this, in this city, the year was 2018. As the sky darkens, the snow banks remain, insulated by the chill of the air, faintly illuminated by the fluorescent lights of the school next door. I have written before about the transformative effect of winter snow: its capacity to shape the landscape, both outside and within. Watching it come down never fails to jolt me out of my current state of mind and shift me, like a gear change, into another one. It reminds me of the personal and creative metamorphosis—the revelation that would make life feel worthwhile—that I always hoped was possible for me. I’m still waiting for it, like a child lost at a theme park, anxiously waiting by the concession stand for Dad to emerge from the crowd of strangers, arms open wide, and scoop her up. In the meantime, the message above my head, proudly portending my demise with all the hyper energy of a “Hot Dogs and Popcorn Here” sign, continues to flicker.

I often have this feeling like all the blood in my body is being drawn inwards, toward a point at the exact center of my chest. There, the blood swirls like a rainstorm before clumping together, congealing stickily into a large, red-black mass like a ball made of scarlet rubber bands, or a wet lump of rose-red bubblegum, or a pound of flesh. It travels, like a roach along a countertop, into my throat. I heave noisily. It moves into my brain, forming an embolism there that immediately cuts me off from the past and present, leaving me stranded in the mutilations of the future. You’re going to die, someday, and you probably won’t like it. You’re going to continue to live, and you don’t know for what purpose. Play another 15-second clip of a girl dancing, slightly off-beat, in a huge, white-walled suburban bedroom.

I am not afraid to grow old, but I am afraid of becoming a missing person, which appears to be the fate of every woman over 40. A woman, in pilly sweaters and sensible sneakers, uneasy but quiet on her dark green velour sofa as her husband and children unhinge their jaws, saliva dripping down, in preparation for devouring her alive. I am afraid of sacrificing my last shreds of authenticity, harbored like a buried secret in a forgotten tract of land, at the altar of expectation. I am afraid to lose the leniency of youth, the charitable excuses made for its excesses. I am afraid because the many uncertainties that have come to characterize my young adulthood show no signs of ceasing.

Meanwhile, time continues its game of knucklebones. I become the victim in a fairytale: My hands wrinkle and contort. My back and neck seize in the middle of the night. My memory loses its grasp on the joys of my past, but retains a powerful, everlasting grip on the shame. The people on who I once relied entirely retreat farther into a maze. I follow, motivated by a flood of desperation stronger than any fear of humiliation, my feet knocking loudly against the cobblestones—but the person I find at the turn of a corner is not someone I recognize. Picking up a fragment of mirror cast onto the stones, the blood in my body reacts in a gory wave, receding from my numb fingers and toes, washing up onto the shores of my teeth and tongue. Holding the mirror up to my face, I don’t even recognize myself.

Star Queen Nebula

On Christmas Day, Strawberry and I watch the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. We sit on our coffee-stained two-seater couch, on either side of his ancient laptop. The footage from the launch center in French Guiana is grainy and low-resolution; its colors are muted and grayish. A primeval rainforest watches through the windows. Masked technicians in slacks and polos stare intently at their monitors. One grabs a phone from its receiver and cradles it against his ear, brow furrowed intently. The room radiates the same chilly sense of apprehension as a hospital waiting room. A timer in the right-hand corner counts down.

While we wait for launch, I look up images of the telescope. For now, it has been folded and packed away into the rocket but, once it achieves full deployment in space, it will expand and transform into a pink and silver rhombus with a reflective yellow hexagon mounted atop it like a jewel on a tray. I click through similar images, inspecting it from other angles. From the front, the bright yellow hexagon—the telescope’s mirror—is as vivid as neon lettering against the night sky. Its form seems so unlike the archetypal telescope, which I think of as a heavy metal tube with two directionally opposed ends and an obvious function. I could be presented with such an object and know instinctively where to position my eye, how to aim it at the heavens. The James Webb, in contrast, looks lithe, weightless, alien, inscrutable in its purpose. It looks like an artifact of a lost civilization, lodged deep in the Siberian tundra, or a prop from a weird, cryptic film made in someone’s suburban backyard on a shoestring budget, or a device fallen from mythical Eden, originally made for exclusive use by gods and monsters, and never intended for human hands.

The rocket fires. Yellow, orange, and red pixels wash across the screen in a frenzy. Within minutes, the James Webb has zoomed into orbit. It begins circling the planet, hitting checkpoints that are announced with austere regularity at the launch center. In lieu of real-time footage, a 3-D simulation of the telescope hovering over the Earth plays over the live announcements. The only true image comes from a camera attached somewhere to the rocket apparatus, which captures the telescope in sporadic shots during the final segment of the televised launch, when the telescope separates from the relative safety of the rocket and leaves for space. From this angle, in the strange lighting of space, the departing telescope looks like a silvery-white, vaguely squareish object: a shiny foil yogurt lid suspended against a black velvet background, or a dollop of mercury on a dark tabletop. 

“This will be humanity’s last view of the James Webb Space Telescope as it moves to its workplace about a million miles away from Earth,” the broadcaster says. Suddenly, I feel my chest seize with emotion. Bewildered by own reaction, I twist in its grip, removing myself from the feeling so I can observe it clinically, coldly, from a third-person perspective:

She, Emma, feels tears come to her eyes as the hunk of polymer, gold-coated metal, and graphite chugs further and further into the void. She swallows the feelings down to avoid (a) unjustifiably anthropomorphizing a telescope to cope with her own experience of loneliness, and, (b) attracting the attention of her partner, which would be unaccountably embarrassing and might incite a show of comfort on his part.

Emma doesn’t want comfort. She wants to boil in her solitude forever. She needs the shield it provides. She is committed to being radically honest about this need if it means she can cling to it forever. When comfort and love approach her, peaceably, kindly, she steps back immediately, eyes red, and warns them not to touch her. They are giants: huge hands, loud, warm voices. She is bubbling over with a flood of fear that leaves fat blisters on her mind, precluding any possibility of cool-headed temperance.

The blade she carries in her sweaty fist, small though it is, was flattened by an anvil made of her own flesh, cooked at three-thousand degrees, and then sharpened on the whetstone of steel-edged, bitter feelings. She strikes out in panic and the blade sinks in with zero difficulty, cutting meat, bone, and emotion as easily as sponge cake. Comfort and love, divided now into soggy chunks, lie on the sidewalk, and she hovers above them, jittery with adrenaline, still holding the knife. 

Meanwhile, the James Webb Space Telescope, many miles above and away, proceeds onwards with no knowledge of human dramas, individual or collective. It moves gently, a buoy floating in the soapy, star-laden froth of space, but unflaggingly, towards the mysteries of its fate. 

Ode to a continuous series of attempts

I read a new book and feel, in the following days, how its author’s chosen style, their playfulness or their terseness, their pathos or their whimsy, in short, the flavor of their prose, invades my own, like rainwater flooding a woodland. I select characters, develop narratives, construct sentences, play with words the way they do, conscious all the while of my behavior, which feels as obvious as ingratiation, as cheap as bad forgery, and as profane as body snatching. It’s unsettling to observe how profoundly my literary diet can express itself through my writing, how plain my influences are, mostly because this tendency—to imitate—is not particularly flattering to my ego, which craves originality, and which is continually rooting through the messy drawers of my mind in an effort to dig out pure, new gems, hitherto undiscovered and unplundered by any other.

I vary my reading diet of influences in an attempt to strike gold, the way a sorcerer might dump ingredients of a varied nature into a cauldron in the expectation of unexpected magic. There’s always a chance—a strong likelihood, really—that all this diversification results in nothing but green, gray, brownish gruel. A crude flurry of brushstrokes that imitate, in their ardent but misplaced agitation, a million different styles, but fail to synthesize from these disparate elements anything of significance. A keen reader with similar tastes in books could undoubtedly pick out what motivates me as a writer, and I’ve had that happen before. Once, many years ago, a friend told me, sincerely and with no contempt, that they could see clearly what influences we shared. I felt then a satisfying bolt of recognition, and something else—shame?—at failing at authentic originality.

Of course, I’ve heard the rebuttal before, too: “There’s nothing truly original.” Everything in increments. Everything an accretion of prior secretions. Everything built on the legacies of others. A person’s talent is nothing but an aggregate of influences, impressions, and outside ideas, received and cultivated during formative periods. But that doesn’t seem to stop anyone from chasing, through the mazes of the mundane, that flash of flesh that is different, and weird, and raw, unprocessed and unfiltered, but immediately recognizable nonetheless, by its power to demand attention, and interrogate convention, and spit on readily-available assumptions. But there’s also the fact that originality is not always celebrated nor rewarded (you could argue that to fulfill the basic definition, it must eschew both of these, to an extent). Originality requires a creator to run the risk of being too edgy, too weird, too unreadable, in short, to expose their vulnerabilities to a critical public in the hope of obtaining that most fragile of currencies: kinship, acceptance. The alternative is safer by far: to stay pleasant, readable, anodyne.

But I won’t deny that it’s more motivational than anything else to stumble across an author and know, from the first page, that I am about to experience something new, something weird, something summarily rejected by a conventional publisher and then strewn online, like lined pages chucked from a window onto the street below. Something that they wrote for themselves, as an encapsulation of what makes them tick, but that, magically, happens to resonate with me.

I feel then that desire: To cross unknown lands, to scale their mountains, to breathe deeply at their peaks. To predict their weather by way of their cloud patterns, to sight the paths of their swooping birds, to build small, private fires in their luminous valleys in the darkest hours of the night, and to know the explorable world extends farther than you could ever hope to travel, and to feel not forlorn at the limits of your own body and its capacity to know, but overjoyed that such a place, such a time, embalmed in language, could live alongside you, and could be carried in your heart like a talisman of a faith not yet forgotten.