Friday, April 28, 2006

Of Sickness and Silence

Everyone gets sick at least twice in a New York winter. My battles with the elements of illness in the winter of 2005/2006 typically followed drunken nights. One such encounter followed a night of drinking with my roommate and fellow mediator Tedd Wood. That night, we pondered our fates in a near empty Beer Garden, making quick work of dark hefeweisens. We came up with a list of complaints of our surroundings and a plan for reconstructing said fates.

Moreover, we involved a new plot for happiness. A slightly scientological plan, the past was regarded and retired that night. All references to olden times—good, bad or indifferent—were merely reference points to the present. This was fulfilling. Like our dulled senses and slurring speech, our pathways were retarded only by focus. Old friends, though beloved were none of our concern. Past habits could be repeated anew, with a new patience for ourselves. The Winter Olympics blathered in the background—the European bartenders gave horrible service. We alluded to interlocked pathways and how those even as close as our roommates had no perspective on how empty the ideals of backward thinking really were.

Of course, none of this was spoken. The entrails of conversation lead us to this point—there is no real conversation to be had once the fifth year of a friendship arrives. All of them are recycled jokes and memory based reveries. Essentially, all the discussions arrive at the same three points: I can’t believe person X did that, we did something ridiculous last night/that night, or I hate my current social/living/working situation, the provenance of which is usually beer (especially in our case). Understanding these conversations comes only through careful study—what is being said is important only in reverence to the emptiness. Spoken words are less important than those ignored.

That night, we considered the merits of not hearing from friends of our former social circle. I observed the fact that Tedd had “dated them all away.” In doing so, we focused the narration of stories on not worrying about this fault. We embraced the idea of changing the guard, and considered each of these friends a part of a greater convenience within reconstruction of atmosphere. A new city brought not only promise, but routine. Change does not always involve decision making. It rarely matters at all. All of this was processed drunkenly in a throwaway tag line used often by the two of us: “Fuck it, you know?” I don’t remember who said it, but this oft used phrase was followed by a particularly deferential silence as Sahsa Cohen landed a difficult jump. We paid attention to that line—more important than it had ever been. We embraced it as mantra to our new beginning. We worried not about what lied ahead, but for one moment worried about the exact moment we controlled.

Of course, this mantra is dangerous. Used in moderation, even, it proves itself mocking of a real sense of history and purpose. Living for the moment is discreditable to be sure. However, within one moment, it can so violently shift the model of definition that two men will focus on figure skating as a means of escape. As sickness began to close my throat and line my sinuses, I was awed by my own complacency. That a man can forget the simple power of phrase is as pointless as a triple toe loop.

The majesty of conversation is simple. Don’t worry about what it is, worry about what it isn’t. Fuck it, you know? Embracing a dangerous yet desirable perception is as pointless as drinking in winter. The embrace, however foolish, still exists. Therein lies the meat of a silence—two friends surrounded by their own tolerances. Though I was sick for two weeks afterward, I would defend that choice.

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