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When I can't sleep, I imagine myself swimming in tv static, that rushing, snowlike static that used to appear on the screen before every tv started blanking to a blue screen the exact color of the Microsoft "blue screen of death." I imagine myself enveloped in that static, in that roaring sea of dots, feeling it rising around me like a cloak, until there's just me and that superheterodyne snow in nowhere-space, and without fail, I drift away from consciousness until morning. I see that fog of electrons almost as a gateway into a thoroughly modern oblivion, and I yield to the static with sweet abandon.

In the real world, the hard, waking world, fog is another thing entirely, though maybe not as different as it might seem. I woke up this morning feeling anxious, dreading a mid-day meeting with horrendous people in ties, dreading the ongoing saga of seeking new transportation, just dreading the routine obligations of being human in a wretched age, but I pulled on yesterday's shirt, put on my drawers, shorts, socks, and the pair of comfy shoes that, for some reason, I nicknamed "the professors," and stepped down from my porch into the kind of blue blue hazy morning that no painter could ever paint, no photographer could ever snap, and no writer could ever really capture in any less than a million words.

There's something in the early hours of the day that just amplifies everything, like the way the streetlight hanging from the old armory shines through the branches of the twisted tree at the corner of Montgomery and Fifth, casting mercury iodide-green shafts of light into the haze, and just passing that tree, watching those shafts shift with perspective, was more than enough to make me feel all shivery and involved, a part of something boundless and mysterious and yet saved just for me and the drivers of the few cars that pass by in the pre-dawn stillness.

I passed it slowly, noting how the light changed, and it struck me that, since the light's not moving, all the different ways I'm seeing it and a million more I'm not seeing must all be there at once, every perspective simultaneously available like an infinite stack of potential, but only revealed in slices by my passage, and I left it behind reluctantly, almost overwhelmed by the way such simple things reveal complex truths.

With a springy, energetic gait, I strode westward, pausing at the intersection of Montgomery and Seventh, where my old high school stands on a small rise. The cupola was brilliantly lit, shining like a lighthouse from the elegant 1899 brick building, and there was a light on in the classroom over the front door, making the huge palladian window where we used to hang out and watch our friends arrive each morning glow like stained glass. It's not even a high school anymore, not for more than a decade, but it's well-tended, occupied by the Laurel Boys and Girls Club, and I'm always inspired when I walk by, still impressed by the formal grace of the ruddy brick building, still feeling a flush of those years coming to me in a rush of reflections.

Everywhere, every light was a searchlight, casting seemingly solid beams of photons into the haze, and I couldn't help but be reminded that I am really nowhere, just wandering the streets of a meaningless town in a tiny state in a larger country, just on my feet on a speck of a planet spinning through the void in the incomprehensible mechanical dance of whatever forces rule this universe, and yet there's something intense and magic at every scale that can be observed, just out there, existing in it's own way and waiting to be enjoyed (or not). I have to chuckle whenever I hear religious people claiming that science is the enemy of the divine, because quantum mechanics and astrophysics do more to make me feel alive and present and interconnected to everyone else than silly tales of petulant toddler-gods stomping on their creations ever did.

The birds were hyperactive this morning, and I stood at a stop sign waiting for a car to pass, just watching the dark silhouettes skimming low over the pavement and swirling in little clusters, disappearing into the trees and telephone wires. The hollow calls of mourning doves rode the haze and one could almost feel it on the skin, delicate, windblown notes from a hundred melancholy flutes tickling the fine hairs of the forearms and filling the dreams with the music of time gone by, love lost, and desires unfulfilled. The dark windows of Hoffman's bike shop called out to me, but I stayed my course, resisting the lure of chrome, pedals, and white baskets with plastic daisies, just kept heading west until the sidewalk ran out in front of the victorian house with a tower and a boarded-up conservatory, just a hundred feet from the biggest christmas tree in the whole world.

I turned back and made my way home again, wrapped in the blue blue fog, feeling like I could almost evaporate into the mist and dissipate into the rest of the world, but the rail of my porch pulled me back down, back home, and back to the shallower realms, the places I'll haunt until I'm finally ready to break free from the tyranny of "the way things have always been" and step out and into that encircling fog of uncertainty.

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joebelknapwall

January 2013

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