Wednesday, November 9, 2005

convenient concord (a dissociation)

You're pointing out the different constellations, hushedly labelling, explaining them, voice hovering low on bated breath. Dampened excitement. You're made self-conscious by your own brilliance in the same way a teenager is much too aware of her awkward gait. "Corvus, Eridanus, Centaurus, Canis Minor," you go on. I'm lying in the grass, gazing up at the night sky through beery eyes. Body, earthbound, mind, a trillion miles away. What is it that keeps you tied to the stars, while others suffer through life disconnected?

Detachment. A military base in southern Djibouti. "When most people look at the sky," you say, "they assume they are looking at the same sky as every other person on earth. But if they only knew how different it really is on the other side of the globe!" Listening. Half-listening. Thinking: I'll get out of here someday. Soon. Contract work. I pull you closer - if only to get you to shut up - and you tumble neatly into the crook of my arm. Just for a second, I want you to see the same sky I see. "So, what do you call this job we do?" A change of subject. And it's a start. "We're labourers," I reply. "We're all labourers here. I try not to lose sight of that."

Drinking ourselves blind. It's what we do, how we cope, with the loneliness of travel, with the loneliness of being truly alone. You, beside me at the bar - both alone. Shots lined up, filled, then emptied, I see you learnt more at university than just astronomy. I've a tattered map spread out on the sticky bar, Africa, and I'm pointing out different locations, hushedly labelling, explaining them, voice hovering low on bated breath. Dampened excitement. Who knows who's listening. "Uganda, Djibouti, Senegal, São Tomé & Príncipe," I go on. You're staring through the map, I can tell. Through the map and through the bar, beneath. Through the bar, through the floor, and through the earth, below. Through the entire globe and at the sky, opposite. We sit like this, listening to one another. Half-listening, half-there. Me, planted in the ground, you, soaring through the sky.

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