Three Vignettes

The Exchange
As I stood in the center of Brussels today, I felt conspicuous for two reasons. First of all, I wore a bright red Arc'teyrx rain jacket. Belgians don't seem to wear rain jackets and if they do, they're not red. That's alright; I like dull, earthy tones too. It just so happens that my jacket is neither dull nor earthy, and it stands out. But that's only one reason I felt conspicuous. It was also because I was at a currency exchange asking for Euros. I have no doubt that they daily see larger stacks of money than mine, but it was the largest stack I'd ever had so I felt, if only in my imagination, the look of those standing in line behind me when I said, "Forty-three ninety five." That sounded better to me than "Four thousand three hundred, etc," as if it could have been $43.95. The fact that the top bill was a $50 made my cunning less convincing than I would have liked. He asked, "Large bills?" I said, "Yes, I'm depositing." It wasn't immediately true, but as before it sounded better to me than "No, something that I can pay with. I'll be walking around all day with this cash-in-hand." He turned over to a shield so that I couldn't see what he was doing. I thought I should clarify. One hundreds would work, but maybe €50s would be easier so I added, "Like fifties." He leaned back with a wad of bills in his hand, "Not five hundreds?" My eyes didn't bulge at the sight of a years worth of savings in eight bills, for which I'm quite proud, I simply answered, "That's a little too large." He counted the money and handed me the stack (which was noticeably shorter than the one I had given him despite the fact that the denominations were the same); I stuffed them in my inside coat pocket, zipped it closed, and zipped up my coat; then I casually put my right hand into my pants pocket where it fell on my single-flick opening pocket knife and walked out of the office so much more aware of the brilliance of the red jacket I wore.
The Edge of Leaves
One of my favorite sensations is standing in an autumn forest while it rains. There's something about each individual moment of the sensation that recalls so much of the life I've led. There's deep recollection but also a manifold of possibilities because I've stood in this way, in a dark autumn forest and in the rain during some of the most glorious times in my life, also some of the most despairing. This may be why I seek out these places because no matter what's happening in my life, there's always a familiar feeling waiting for me, to remind me that life is recurrent. There's something reassuring in the regularity of life, whether it's the regularity of joy or the regularity of tragedy. That may be why I always go back to my favorite comedies and tragedies, there's something true in each return and to live my life is to live an epic cycle of tragedy and comedy. 
          The sensation begins with the blackness. It must be night to sense it, but the blackness needn't be complete. There are specks of light in the sky and there are specks of light coming through the trees. This forest is in the city, but it doesn't make it any less a forest. Every forest is an enclave in the midst of civilization just as every city is an enclave in the midst of wilderness. There's enough light to see the grey trunks of trees splitting the black of space. The thick bed of leaves on the forest floor — it's late autumn after all — gives a rough texture below. The edges of the leaves are highlighted with the lightest grey but each silver lining disappears almost instantly into the black underneath. My feet are hidden among them but they don't rustle because I don't move, I only stand and feel. What I feel first and most of all is the dripping of water. It's stopped raining for a time but the branches above continued to overflow. The dripping of branches is irregular and unexpected. I never anticipate the drop that strikes my eyelashes.
My Boots are Still Dusty
How long has it been, writing lines in the sand
That I scrawled my own Odyssey making tracks through the land
Or wrote out a story with the dirt in my hands?
Adventures and stories. I can't separate the two. The future is as blank as the page below my pen. And I want to take the long way to the story's end. 
          I suffer from two syndromes, which are in actual fact the same: I can't write a story beyond the beginning and I can't carry out adventures till their end. If my adventures were novels, most have ended before I've finished Chapter One. I'd like to justify myself and say that I have a modernist antipathy to closure, so appropriately each adventure ends in dissatisfaction. But if I'm a modernist adventurer, I'd rather be a Proust; I'd rather have so much to say (or do), that I can never seem to finish (and that even my endings only throw me back into a varied repetition of the same great epic). 
          Admittedly, many people know me chiefly by what I've written (with my boots), but if they knew how many tales I've left incomplete after one or two pages, they'd know me as a failed writer. Two years after moving to Belgium, and I've related few stories — I have few stories to relate. If adventures are the tales we write with our lives, the few ink tracks I've written are aging. It's time to shake off the dust, lace up my boots, and write something more. More than that, it's time to write a story to its completion. There shouldn't be any sadness in a story's end so there's no need to fear its approach. I'm convinced that any truly great story is immortal, either that or it spawns sequels.
My boots are still dusty with the dust of decay
But I'd rather they rest at the end of a day
Spent throwing down tracks on a wanderer's way.
8:59 AM | Unknown