18 August 2014

At the Bottom of Nearly Everything (Prose Poetry)

Being an author lets you take wild risks: If you’re successful, you win. If you’re not successful, you write an awesome story about it. Still win.
Boom. I’m lucky like that. 
This piece I’m sharing with you is a failed success. Or successful failure. Something like that. I’m sharing because I believe some of my best writing comes from my worst moments. Maybe we’re most human when life is tough. It’s prose poetry (which means drink it slowly). And thank you, Christopher Nolan, for inspiring the non-linear plot. Lastly, don’t worry: I’m okay. I’m happy. Sad and happy.
Hope you enjoy it. : )

It’s night.

The crickets are whistling.

I’m lying on my back in a parking lot. A vast, empty parking lot. The same parking lot, in fact, that I walked blind across in my essay “On Understanding.” Flat on my back, spread eagle, like the Vitruvian man but with clothes.

I haven’t had a crush like this in awhile. Although it’s usually the smile that gets me, with her it was her laugh.

I see headlights below my jaw. I jerk my head up to check their trajectory—don’t kill me! Not an ideal way to go—lying down in a dark, empty parking lot. Tires are especially scary from this angle.

Before the call, I had some interest in several girls. After, though, I’ve somehow narrowed my options down to zero.

I put my shoulder blades and skull back on the blacktop. Okay, kill me.

From this perspective the sky is almost all I see. A vast dark blue, full of stars. The cool thing is that if I tilt my head back, I finally get the perspective of the world as it really is. The stars are below, then me, then the earth at my back. I’m at the bottom of nearly everything.

I haven’t asked any girl in the ward on two dates—I haven’t chosen a particular interest. In other words, this has nothing to do with my actions. But these individuals, yes, more than one, got first dibs on me, so I’m out of the game. I don’t even know who.

Trees hang down in a giant circle around me. Luckily gravity holds my spine to the earth so I don’t fall into outer space. Or not so luckily. I have an inkling to tell him to let go: Okay, gravity, that’s enough. I’m done here. You’ve been awesome.

Two days ago at the pool, I finally got the guts to ask out Mallory. Yes, finally.

But tonight when I called her, she’d changed her mind, declining my offer because she didn’t want to cause conflict with certain other unnamed individuals who she knows are interested in me. It was awful—she was so nice about it. To smooth things out, she added that we’re probably not compatible anyway, meaning, I think, that I’m a scholar and she’s a skater. I can learn. That’s what I wanted to say.

The cars whiz past on three distant sides. They’re all upside down. Everyone but me. The tires stick to the bottom of the giant sphere. Headlights point ahead into the darkness.

It’s amazing how big the earth is. And the sky beneath. Then there’s little old me.

I really want to find her—my future wife.


Just like I want to reach down and touch one of those stars.

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— J