“The world is no longer the story of our omniscience, but a collection of unrelated movements weaved into an okay narrative about ourselves.”
Yesterday I may have inadvertently helped a real estate agent sell a $1.4 million dollar house. That this was through the very auspices of being me makes this story notable. The house in mention resides in an opulent neighborhood next to a café whose outdoor seating—consisting of quaint wooden benches, potted herbs, and child made ceramics embedded in the concrete—I had solely occupied during my morning coffee. It was very brisk out, and while others sat inside, I hunched inward bracing my shoulders against the wind, reading a first edition hardback of a well-reviewed book whose author’s œuvre is looked favorably upon. I wore leather loafers, harlequin socks, orange corduroys, and was looking rather bookish. In short, like the kind of person you’d want to occasionally see forlornly reading outside your window, as some demographical extension of the cultured and/or cultural city one imagines themselves living in, whose steep cost of living may then be seen as a surcharge of sorts. I solidified the stereotype, while making myself nauseous. The real estate agent, a stunning “hapa” woman of mixed Caucasian-Asian race, who draped an intricately hand-knitted shawl over a slim Ann Taylor dress suit, gave me this sharp smile, if my entire existence as an aimless gnat had somehow led me to that critical point: I, the faceless mannequin of dying literature suspended in a cryogenic vat of self-contemplation, frozen in a lost pastoral, which felt so real at the time (the freezing part), as the fog slid under the sun and the silver fingers of wind went up my shirt. The prospective buyer looked at me with longing, my eyes corroborating the moment with falsity. He’ll likely buy the house. In the imagined fashion show of our lives, the anorexic look well fed. To the real estate agent, I lowered my gaze into my book of lies. May I waive my commission for a chance to wave back.
Because of the holiday, the first two places at which I usually get my morning coffee were closed, which indignantly took me a few extra blocks to another cafe, in which a line quickly formed behind me as I made my order. People made facial expressions of exasperation when it took me awhile to realize that what I presumed was ham (as represented by a photo stock image of a “breakfast bagel”) was actually a dark shadow created by the egg; and yet oddly, they had ham available for an extra dollar. The cashier was a gaunt woman with spiky hair dressed in early-’90s grunge-esque flannel, who exuded this slightly disturbed vibe of someone who, at whatever delinquent hour, and from whatever oblivious slumber, always feels as if they have been woken up too early. As she took my order and began executing its logistics, she ran a verbal commentary of doing so, likely on her own behalf, systematically invoking her own consciousness more than once. So what appeared before us, somewhat confounding, was a kind of meta-awareness of not just what she was doing, as she was doing it, but of the very origin of such thoughts. “My brain,” she kept saying, “I just need to, my brain, wait,” somewhat pleadingly, so early in the morning, which I did, waited. And as the second hand made its full revolution on the wall clock, only to begin in the same apparent moment it had just been a minute earlier, time felt less of an accommodating thing than this liability cosmically incurred by accident, of something condemned to move forward, thusly demonstrated by the very footsteps which carried myself, and my bagel with incidental ham, out the door.