I’ve come to learn one thing this year. One being many, that is. Made up of three letters: three—one, two, three—and starting off an infinity, no doubt, that I can’t even think of (two made up of three letters: three—one, two, three; three made up of four letters: four—one, two, three, four… .) Thus, I’ve learned everything and nothing, and here comes a full stop.
But not quite a full one. There are no answers. And, yes, in the cliche way but also in the really-there-are-no-answers way where we’re all just free and overwhelmed with our existential responsibility. (Oh look! the void, let’s go take a swim. But, then again, I don’t like to swim. Something I either felt was real at some point, the dislike, or something I internalized (I’ve never liked my body). In all reality it’s probably both. And … and … and … . ) When I have an answer, or an opinion, or a view, I like to think it’s pretty stable. Pretty firm. Pretty informed. Until I actually seek out the being informed and realize that, in most cases, things are so damn complicated that I actually leave all situations more confused, more alarmed, more at odds with everything.
But this is not bad.
A couple weeks ago I met with my favorite professor, let’s call him John, and we were reading a passage of let’s say Virginia Woolf aloud. After parsing the sentence and going through my initial reactions, he asked me some questions. I answered, took them back, formulated, failed, and repeated. All of a sudden this cat was a woman, this cat was just a cat, this cat was disabled, this cat was the feminine, this cat. There are interpretations and then there are facts and then there is nothing. Was this really a cat? It said “cat” but maybe the dinner party was so good someone was hallucinating? Are we in Circe? Is Ginsberg not-yet-born hiding in the background? Is he, perhaps, dressed as the cat?
Instead of answers, however, there are musings. There are options. While I will admit that there are some wrong answers, there are always more than one right one. Should I j-walk? Should I go out tonite? Should I fall in love with this person? Should I get out of bed on time? Is this cat really just a cat (yes) or is it more (yes) or is it not (yes).
Knowing that there is really no singular right answer is at once comforting (because we’re all equally wrong then, strictly speaking) and then terrifying. Some days I feel like justifying myself. Others I’m unapologetic. And then there are some days where I stare out passed my windows, passed the trees that I hug when it’s warm out, passed the smoke stacks (or vapor stacks? I’ve been told it isn’t smoke but water.), passed the rooms and buildings and bricks, and into the forest, dreaming of the time, ‘round midnight, where the moon was fuller, the stars a little brighter, … and then it disappears. I remember only fiction and realize that it is in this moment that I am my most wrong, my most right.
I can remember differently. Every moment is a new chance for exploration. Each is a second that wraps into a minute and we’re all going to die anyways so why not thrive in how wrong we can be. Wrong while calling for more options. Wrong and being unsettled by the order and simplicity. Wrong because our answer isn’t the answer and realizing that the answer isn’t really anything with a “the.”
So as I sit alone in Espresso Royale on State Street, while friends are in NOLA/NYC/Orlando/Cancun/Home, I’ll be here thinking and reading and feeling in this 10 degree weather, praying to the Goddess to have me wake up tomorrow to sunny/70/May, which won’t happen. It’ll be cold, I’ll still be in Ann Arbor, and the reasoning is simple: I’m going to soak up every last second of being wrong, of being right, because in a few months I’ll have to come up with an answer and it’ll be a lie.