Sunlight at my window wakes me. I sit then stand, feeling the blood bound through my body, familiar aches at my back, my shoulder. The floor is cold beneath me. I reach for a glass of water and see the notebook stark atop the white wood of the nightstand. I wonder why I remember the notebook but can’t remember my name.
Writing began as an exercise last winter but quickly developed into something much different, the nature of which eludes me still. I never wrote much of anything up to that day in January when I happened on an empty notebook in my library and began, at a colleague’s recommendation, to write down my fondest memory. Thus what I remembered of the Trankworth’s unveiling in L.A. unfurled from my consciousness with immediacy, as if water poured from a bucket, and my memories, granular in detail, inundated the pages of the notebook.
I wrote as I remembered, adding and supplanting for clarity, precise and meticulous with details so as to insure them, immortalize them, never again worry about chasing them through the narrowing corridors of memory.
Next I turned my attention to other memories and attacked them with equal zeal and attention, starting with the most powerful and lucid, using the notebook as collector, curator, friend. I cursed myself for not having thought to catalog my memories earlier. Emotions overwhelmed me. Details obsessed me. My attention gradually shifted to language as I beheld a newfound appreciation for and devotion to its nuances, its capabilities. I broke it down to fragments to better understand and utilize it for my memories, my notebook.
The project inspired in me a renewed sense of purpose after all had once seemed lost. I wrote with energy, violent when necessary, using the pages as scratchboard, bandage. Never before had I known the intimacy possible between man and page.
In the kitchen I forget how I like my coffee and drink it black, writing about a dream from last night: I’d been commissioned as a young man to design and build a clock tower in Sweden in collaboration with a pair of renowned Swedes hired to build the clock. Men were contracted and materials were purchased and the project proceeded on time and budget until the Swedes abruptly bailed near completion, leaving me to either complete the tower without the clock or try and build the clock myself.
Rather than proceed sensibly I chose instead to try building the clock, attacking it with more passion than I placed in the tower, working all day and deep into nights with the gears and levers of the clock until a system emerged. The tower’s public unveiling approached and I wasn’t near completion, insisting the tower be opened without fanfare or celebration while I continued to solve the riddle of the clock. At dream’s end I’d become an old man still living on a small mattress in the top of the tower, working tirelessly at his obsession, and later, just a rumor or vapor on the neck of someone tasked with cleaning out the abandoned tower where that sad man once lived.
Sunlight fades at the kitchen window and I rub the pain from my hand, scanning my mind for memories to transcribe. I contemplate everything I’ve forgotten and finish the coffee, ready to begin the day. In the library a meager wooden shelf supports the notebooks. I think of all the duplicated memories written inside them, wondering if it’s just the same few repeated over and over. Why continue this kaleidoscopic mockery of the past if not to lose myself deeper in the labyrinth?
Days are casual. Dusk signals pensive marathons by candlelight. Time is the anti-rhythm of scratching on pages as if scratching at the earth, but to uncover what?