Your favorite dog had a slump for a walk, or maybe a trundle, but it makes me wonder what we see in goofiness that’s so euphoric. We stay with these relatives all up the East Coast who have lives which could be called utopian and we don’t see our utopias. Which is wild privilege, for sure. We don’t want or maybe can’t want that kind of paradise.
But back to that arthritic dog with a haphazard and brooding face, slumping over a rug with great purpose — he’s some perfect utopian being. A demigod of living in an unsteady world, seeking a scratch. The bar in Manhattan was named that, and we were hugged by the low ceilings, the loud Friday chatter. Older, wealthier people tell us we are living the dream, and it means less every time I hear it. Whose dream? Jack Kerouac’s? I couldn’t feel further from it, the bookmark unmoved for weeks now. Back in Green Valley, I fell asleep with it in the recliner.
You slumped, unconscious in the passenger seat next to me as we passed another billboard for an AR-15 coming into the northern part of North Carolina, your body and brain saying what we haven’t been: that it all feels like a burden. That we need to put it down for a second, readjust, but we can’t. I don’t know whose dream it is to try to hold up America, to get a good look at it all over, but it feels more like a weight I haven’t trained enough to lift.
Which is why I’m glad you’re here. Glad we’re taking care of each other. Maybe not utopian, maybe not what makes the final cut, certainly not what Kerouac blazed into his typewriter, but yes: I think the only way to approximate a utopian slump toward some fractional understanding.
We’ve seen the way so many people live, slumped over in the life they’ve created, propped up on sticks or fancy chairs so their arms create a pleasing angle, reached out toward us. A string is pulled and their finger hooks, scratching at the air to draw us to them. Mostly it’s revolting, the idea of someone else’s life. Revolting but also something I desperately want.
Look at this world, and here I am within. We see the best version until we don’t. The slogans of states sometimes scream FREEDOM LOVE BETTER BEST SEXY SULTRY FREEDOM NATURE UTOPIA UTOPIA UTOPIA.
What if I allowed myself to believe them? If that was the vision I had of each state – their vision. They all proclaim difference and innocence. As do we, when we enter a place and she asks what drew him to “On the Road”. We bat our lashes and feign ignorance when we are challenged with anything, wielding this power like the mini axe we wish we had.
Imagining yourself into a life is exhausting. And we do it every day. Sometimes it is more tiring than others – like when it cuts close to the bone, retearing muscle we had stitched up to escape that theoretical version of ourselves. Once it was invigorating – to imagine what it would be like to live here, to be them. Just once. Until the fantasy seemed to erode several days later when they didn’t return our fevered texts. So we swapped clothes and pretended we didn’t stink and started wearing mascara or brow pencil every day to make ourselves feel ourselves. To reaffirm we are a person living a life even through the rapidly presented puppet show productions of what our lives might be if we stayed here here here.
We drift in and out of desire and complacency, pleased with where we are or longing for what’s next.