Dear Deuce

Legs Everywhere

June 13, 2024
900 words · 4 minute read

Nighttime is my favorite time to spend with you. I don’t mean the kind of nighttime infused with any artificial entertainment, or that gives away excitement. I also don’t mean what the world interprets as “spending time,” with its chatter and clamor, attention and transactions. Not even do I imagine soft nods, smiles or eye contact. No, I mean the complete off hours, the hush that descends when the sun dips below the horizon, the murk where even artificial lights feel embarrassed to stand out. In the deepest night’s darkness, the world retreats into slumber, us no longer living but simply existing, adrift in the vast ocean of sleep, our minds unburdened by the weight of wakefulness. It is those hours that I feel the most human. Ironic, isn’t it? Now that any machine can act awake, only we can sleep.

I start to believe that’s when some of our best communications happen, not with words, but with the proximity of physical existence, the peaceful rhythm of breaths. Words are cheap, really. Fickle things, always jumping around trying to find the precise place to land, but always missing the mark. Even when it hits the mark, it’s fleeting and ephemeral. The biggest crime though, is its abundance. So much abundance. Wherever you land your eyes, there are words. Even when you are not looking, words are relentlessly being added to cyclopean dimensions at a frightening speed. I am myself doing the adding sometimes, precisely right this moment, exacerbating the collective ire.

Paradoxically, the Herculean feat of sitting down and beginning to write anew, after a 26-month hiatus, is absolved by thinking of this as contributing to a problem, rather than concocting a solution. It really takes the pressure off, parodying a rogue instead of a hero.

Prescribing too grand a goal to writing (and any act) can be a good motivation starter, but only shortly. As soon as the initial zeal wanes, optimistic outlooks only serve as a hindrance. The excessive positivity we all throw around carelessly, will come back to shame us.

I write here precisely because I don’t have anything hopeful and life-affirming to say. I only have grim thoughts, dark feelings, and dreary mumbles. For every optimisitic message I’ve ever delivered there is an at least equally valid pessimistic, misanthropic retort buried inside of me. Out in the daylight, I’m obligated to impersonate a wise figure, offer suggestions, encouragement and reassurance, sending the readers or listeners back out there with a little pep talk I only half-believe myself.

But in the nighttime, I live with such a liberty to fume and brood.

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The rhythmic rise and fall of that dreaming chest of yours is a serene scene to watch. It tells me you are alive and happy. Although to me you are always alive and happy. I have yet to find a third state of yours, and I pray I never shall. When I look at you I often think: “Ah, so many legs.” You do have so many; they are sometimes tangled together, sometimes spread out. They kick, they twitch, they dream of chasing squirrels and rabbits. They sprawl across the bed, or clutter into a tessellated knob. They are each a story etched in fur, and together a map of adventures past and dreamt. You in my bed, legs everywhere, is when the boundaries between us blur, and our ideas of what this whole existing thing is intertwine.

When another morning arrives, I will have to get up and continue impersonating whom I happened to have been thus far. I will join my fellow enthusiasts to act like we know better. But right now, I want to be unmade. My reason for existing is as simple as yours. Our shared message is encoded in our breaths: to go on, just one more day together.

In the same bed, where, there are eight legs at times, we watch a show that’s named after you—or you were named after it, as I tell people to simplify the story. Gunshots, explosions, disfigured human bodies all over the screen. Legs, everywhere. The number of legs that have ever been used as a storytelling device in the human history can only be rivaled by the pairs of eyes that have ever projected their own vision onto a told story. In stories, every revelation relies on “something happening.” But what if nothing happens?

Something always happen. You tell me as you roll onto your back, your legs now sticking out like wiggling candles on a toppled cake. And I remembered just as I finally reconciled with the fact that ordinary blessings are not for me, you happened. Shortly after you happened I stopped writing sad prose for two years. You are the kind of beauty that I can forgive what the world had done to me, how it had often made me feel. I forgive it all.