Devoir de Philosophie

WHY I'M NOT WHERE YOU ARE 5/21/63   To my unborn child:

Publié le 06/01/2014

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WHY I'M NOT WHERE YOU ARE 5/21/63   To my unborn child: I haven't always been silent, I used to talk and talk and talk and talk, I couldn't keep my mouth shut, the silence overtook me like a cancer, it was one of my first meals in America, I tried to tell the waiter, "The way you just handed me that knife, that reminds me of--" but I couldn't finish the sentence, her name wouldn't come, I tried again, it wouldn't come, she was locked inside me, how strange, I thought, how frustrating, how pathetic, how sad, I took a pen from my pocket and wrote "Anna" on my napkin, it happened again two days later, and then again the following day, she was the only thing I wanted to talk about, it kept happening, when I didn't have a pen, I'd write "Anna" in the air--backward and right to left--so that the person I was speaking with could see, and when I was on the phone I'd dial the numbers--2, 6, 6, 2--so that the person could hear what I couldn't, myself, say. "And" was the next word I lost, probably because it was so close to her name, what a simple word to say, what a profound word to lose, I had to say "ampersand," which sounded ridiculous, but there it is, "I'd like a coffee ampersand something sweet," nobody would choose to be like that. "Want" was a word I lost early on, which is not to say that I stopped wanting things--I wanted things more--I just stopped being able to express the want, so instead I said "desire," "I desire two rolls," I would tell the baker, but that wasn't quite right, the meaning of my thoughts started to float away from me, like leaves that fall from a tree into a river, I was the tree, the world was the river. I lost "come" one afternoon with the dogs in the park, I lost "fine" as the barber turned me toward the mirror, I lost "shame"--the verb and the noun in the same moment; it was a shame. I lost "carry," I lost the things I carried--"daybook," "pencil," "pocket change," "wallet"--I even lost "loss." After a time, I had only a handful of words left, if someone did something nice for me, I would tell him, "The thing that comes before 'you're welcome,'" if I was hungry, I'd point at my stomach and say, "I am the opposite of full," I'd lost "yes," but I still had "no," so if someone asked me, "Are you Thomas?" I would answer, "Not no," but then I lost "no," I went to a tattoo parlor and had YES written onto the palm of my left hand, and NO onto my right palm, what can I say, it hasn't made life wonderful, it's made life possible, when I rub my hands against each other in the middle of winter I am warming myself with the friction of YES and NO, when I clap my hands I am showing my appreciation through the uniting and parting of YES and NO, I signify "book" by peeling open my clapped hands, every book, for me, is the balance of YES and NO, even this one, my last one, especially this one. Does it break my heart, of course, every moment of every day, into more pieces than my heart was made of, I never thought of myself as quiet, much less silent, I never thought about things at all, everything changed, the distance that wedged itself between me and my happiness wasn't the world, it wasn't the bombs and burning buildings, it was me, my thinking, the cancer of never letting go, is ignorance bliss, I don't know, but it's so painful to think, and tell me, what did thinking ever do for me, to what great place did thinking ever bring me? I think and think and think, I've thought myself out of happiness one million times, but never once into it. "I" was the last word I was able to speak aloud, which is a terrible thing, but there it is, I would walk around the neighborhood saying, "I I I I." "You want a cup of coffee, Thomas?" "I." "And maybe something sweet?" "I." "How about this weather?" "I." "You look upset. Is anything wrong?" I wanted to say, "Of course," I wanted to ask, "Is anything right?" I wanted to pull the thread, unravel the scarf of my silence and start again from the beginning, but instead I said, "I." I know I'm not alone in this disease, you hear the old people in the street and some of them are moaning, "Ay yay yay," but some of them are clinging to their last word, "I," they're saying, because they're desperate, it's not a complaint it's a prayer, and then I lost "I" and my silence was complete. I started carrying blank books like this one around, which I would fill with all the things I couldn't say, that's how it started, if I wanted two rolls of bread from the baker, I would write "I want two rolls" on the next blank page and show it to him, and if I needed help from someone, I'd write "Help," and if something made me want to laugh, I'd write "Ha ha ha!" and instead of singing in the shower I would write out the lyrics of my favorite songs, the ink would turn the water blue or red or green, and the music would run down my legs, at the end of each day I would take the book to bed with me and read through the pages of my life: I want two rolls And I wouldn't say no to something sweet I'm sorry, this is the smallest I've got Start spreading the news... The regular, please Thank you, but I'm about to burst I'm not sure, but it's late Help Ha ha ha! It wasn't unusual for me to run out of blank pages before the end of the day, so should I have to say something to someone on the street or in the bakery or at the bus stop, the best I could do was flip back through the daybook and find the most fitting page to recycle, if someone asked me, "How are you feeling?" it might be that my best response was to point at, "The regular, please," or perhaps, "And I wouldn't say no to something sweet," when my only friend, Mr. Richter, uggested, "What if you tried to make a sculpture again? What's the worst thing that could happen?" I shuffled halfway nto the filled book: "I'm not sure, but it's late." I went through hundreds of books, thousands of them, they were all over he apartment, I used them as doorstops and paperweights, I stacked them if I needed to reach something, I slid them nder the legs of wobbly tables, I used them as trivets and coasters, to line the birdcages and to swat insects from whom I egged forgiveness, I never thought of my books as being special, only necessary, I might rip out a page--"I'm sorry, this s the smallest I've got"--to wipe up some mess, or empty a whole day to pack up the emergency light bulbs, I remember spending an afternoon with Mr. Richter in the Central Park Zoo, I went weighted down with food for the animals, only omeone who'd never been an animal would put up a sign saying not to feed them, Mr. Richter told a joke, I tossed hamburger to the lions, he rattled the cages with his laughter, the animals went to the corners, we laughed and laughed, together and separately, out loud and silently, we were determined to ignore whatever needed to be ignored, to build a ew world from nothing if nothing in our world could be salvaged, it was one of the best days of my life, a day during which I lived my life and didn't think about my life at all. Later that year, when snow started to hide the front steps, when morning became evening as I sat on the sofa, buried under everything I'd lost, I made a fire and used my laughter for kindling: "Ha ha ha!" "Ha ha ha!" "Ha ha ha!" "Ha ha ha!" I was already out of words when I met your mother, that may have been what made our marriage possible, she never had to know me. We met at the Columbian Bakery on Broadway, we'd both come to New York lonely, broken and confused, I was sitting in the corner stirring cream into coffee, around and around like a little solar system, the place was half empty but she slid right up next to me, "You've lost everything," she said, as if we were sharing a secret, "I can see." If I'd een someone else in a different world I'd've done something different, but I was myself, and the world was the world, so I was silent, "It's OK," she whispered, her mouth too close to my ear, "Me too. You can probably see it from across a room. It's not like being Italian. We stick out like sore thumbs. Look at how they look. Maybe they don't know that we've lost everything, but they know something's off." She was the tree and also the river flowing away from the tree, "There are worse things," she said, "worse than being like us. Look, at least we're alive," I could see that she wanted those last words back, but the current was too strong, "And the weather is one hundred dollars, also, don't let me forget to

« point at,"The regular, please," orperhaps, "AndIwouldn't saynotosomething sweet,"whenmyonly friend, Mr.Richter, suggested, "Whatifyou tried tomake asculpture again?What's theworst thingthatcould happen?" Ishuffled halfway into thefilled book: "I'mnotsure, butit'slate." Iwent through hundreds ofbooks, thousands ofthem, theywere allover the apartment, Iused them asdoorstops andpaperweights, Istacked themifIneeded toreach something, Islid them under thelegs ofwobbly tables,Iused them astrivets andcoasters, toline thebirdcages andtoswat insects fromwhom I begged forgiveness, Inever thought ofmy books asbeing special, onlynecessary, Imight ripout apage—"I'm sorry,this is the smallest I'vegot"—to wipeupsome mess, orempty awhole daytopack upthe emergency lightbulbs, Iremember spending anafternoon withMr.Richter inthe Central ParkZoo,Iwent weighted downwithfood forthe animals, only someone who'dneverbeenananimal wouldputupasign saying nottofeed them, Mr.Richter toldajoke, Itossed hamburger tothe lions, herattled thecages withhislaughter, theanimals wenttothe corners, welaughed andlaughed, together andseparately, outloud andsilently, wewere determined toignore whatever neededtobe ignored, tobuild a new world fromnothing ifnothing inour world couldbesalvaged, itwas oneofthe best days ofmy life, aday during which Ilived mylife and didn't thinkabout mylife atall. Later thatyear, when snowstarted tohide thefront steps, when morning becameeveningasIsat onthe sofa, buried undereverything I'dlost, Imade afire and used mylaughter for kindling: "Hahaha!" "Hahaha!" "Hahaha!" "Hahaha!" Iwas already outofwords whenImet your mother, thatmay have been what made ourmarriage possible,shenever hadtoknow me.Wemet atthe Columbian BakeryonBroadway, we'd bothcome toNew Yorklonely, broken andconfused, Iwas sitting inthe corner stirring creamintocoffee, around and around likealittle solar system, theplace washalf »


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