One of the things I did when I graduated was cull the numbers in my cellphone. People who can do things for you v. people who cannot. It is a hard line but I’ve had some success in displacing the battery of dispossession onto my cellphone in the past and I thought why not. You are nothing to me, etc. Why do I need the number of an undergraduate organizer for the campus Alliance; why do I need the number of the guy who gave me rides to the film set; why do I need the number for the fine people who unlock doors on the weekend; why do I need the number for my cubicle mates. It felt so good erasing these numbers that would never appear, never effect again, that I spread my cheer to integral past connections, people I hoped to hear from, knew I wouldn’t hear from, expected never to hear from, all gone. No goodbye. The support cast and the main actors, the mouthpieces, the tapestry, the furniture, the obsessions, thrown upon a small, dull pixel flame. Sometimes they come back, of course. Spit out of hell’s fire. A three a.m. Jeanne D’arc, a whistle in the dark, as last night someone sent me a quotation from a book.
Not the book pictured above; that was what I was reading again last night, and also Sleepless Nights. (I took my bath in a very over-determined sample and so.) Marooned in a bad dream on the Mackinac Bridge, winter gusts, the old Camry I left behind in Indiana creaking towards the barrier—the product of image searching suspension bridges and then reading Handke and Hardwick, especially all of Hardwick’s trips back home. “My mother has in many ways the nature of an exile, although her wanderings and displacements had been only in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky.” It’s eleven in the morning now. Yesterday morning I walked outside in the cold with my nephew and showed him my old car safe in the barn, where my father has a mind to revive it, although, having a will to do so is a different thing entirely. Covered in dust and straw, bird shit, the cracked window, the industrial glue smeared on a side mirror, a door handle broken and a tire without its hubcap. Pressed against the glass and looking inside it like a vitrine in a museum, wondering at the desiccated remains. We left the barn and found the cats, the gray cat and its yellow friend. We avoided the very sick dogs because Connor thinks they will jump on him. They cannot; they are too sick; and I lectured—I am always lecturing kids about behaving compassionately toward animals—I lectured Connor on Lucky and Bear’s infirmities, and their deserving our pity and comfort. We stamped up the north lawn together, three-year-old boy, eighty-year-old animals, to the splintering garden shed, crept over brown grasses, then pressed our ears to the beehives.
"I still believe that peace and plenty and happiness can be worked out some way," wrote Vonnegut, in Jailbird—perhaps a phrase plucked from Pinterest, or a magazine article, or some meme of the man’s smoking visage sagely set on a Facebook wall. “I am a fool,” he concludes. Reading it at 2:52 a.m. inside my phone really, really pissed me off. Pissed that this number without a name was using Vonnegut in code, and pissed that I had, in some other fury, possibly also undertaken in a similar wintry early morning hour, deleted all these numbers at all. Not that I couldn’t solve the sender. Not that Google is near for nothing. Not that, not that.