Chapter 32

It’s morning and it’s June. I’m sitting on the porch or maybe I’m out in the world. How to articulate the past while being here, now, and having the future rolling in, that seems a challenge. Like parachuting in a lightning storm; would it be fine because you aren’t grounded? I’m not sure. I see memories passing by, but no lightning.

What is a money-identity? I’ve mentioned that I don’t make income right now to people, and they have been aghast. Or at least confused. “At your age? Aren’t you afraid?” I’m not sure; I’m certainly afraid, but I don’t think it’s of incomelessness. It’s mostly the second order social consequences that are playing out in that conversation, but I shouldn’t be afraid of those either. I have coffee, I’m on my porch, the squirrels don’t mind whether the compound annual growth rate is whatever. And neither do the people who don’t mind. Earning was always a mechanism for placing myself directly into a spot. To not bat an eye and get dinner for the group on occasion. To book a flight to another continent irresponsibly late. To tell my dad off for giving me professional advice using an oblique reference to salarianity.

And now what do I say? That I write? That I kayak and ride my bike? That I like to walk? And get enough sleep? I do say all those things, but I can sense that people (and that I) want to know what all that adds up to. Certainly not an annual income that would make a paternal figure shut up. But I don’t feel like I need to leave China and leave my manifesto on the doorstep with the guard, so to speak. I don’t even think I need to leave the phone in its cradle and just go fishing and tell people parables about turtles in the mud as I reject their offers. I’m still young enough to want to crash around the world a bit, I’m not retired. Maybe not as hyperbolically stark a shift as Rimbaud. To go from walking to Paris again and again to being a businessman in Africa, writing responsible letters to family, that’s probably not my fate. I’ll take a pilgrimage on foot to Paris seasonally, whenever the weather inside turns stormy and full of lightning, I’ll stroll along the country roads and rain on the plants and the dirt. So to speak. And then from time to time, I’ll figure out how to harvest before my mobile potlatch, enough salmon to feed anyone who might come to my cabin. I still have plenty of salmon. Please stop by my cabin, if you’re in the neighborhood. Or perhaps I’ll see you on the road to Paris.

For this morning, the fog is light. So is the coffee. Costa Rican coffee has been stimulating lately. Perhaps because I’m going there, but also the taste. I wonder what it could be like to live on the Nicoya Peninsula, one of the supposed Blue Zones, where people live long, happy, healthy lives moreso than most places in the world. Would I meld into society over the course of decades, becoming an intergenerationally simpatico member of society? A complete Spanish speaker, a contributor to my community, an economic unit legible and acceptable to the government? Of course. The question is, would I rather do such a thing? This coffee is extraordinary. I love fresh fruit. But the question of not being where I am, as you can see, itches. And I scratch. But I’ve have been intermittently itchy lately and not scratching. This morning is still in the upper Midwestern college town state capital, on the same porch that I’ve been drinking coffee on for years. Not that many years, but still plural. An achievement. So who knows what might happen. Maybe I’ll be literary enough to write literary books. Maybe I’ll be poetic enough to write poems. And then live anywhere. Or maybe I’ll run out of money and follow my work status to a place where I can “do” “strategy” again for a while. I really do like playing monopoly, even if piling up all the property and money on one player’s side of the board is a morally bankrupt enterprise. It still seems to be legal, while not having money isn’t. But read on, dear reader, and perhaps mention to your reading friends that one day this book might be read to them, after an audio book reader spends hours in a studio, banging his or her or their head against the microphone, and you might then be able to take me for a walk, at least my words, and watch the pelicans swim in unison and feast on the fruits of the lake together. I hope you do that anyway, the pelicans are magical.

The coffee has almost run out. Do people writing books often pretend that it’s getting done in one sitting? I’ve worried about this before, that articulating the fact that this piece is not an imprint, taken at a single instant, of the balance sheet and layout of my mind, could make it less digestible. As if one were asked to eat a single meal that had been prepared over months, in one sitting. What about the ingredients that were prepared months ago? Maybe it’s not like that, and it’s more like a meal that has been learned, practiced over years, and you’re eating at my table for days and days. It’s relatively warm out, but my fingers are getting cold. Perhaps this is related to the coffee being almost out. I can feel my digestion working better with the addition of the Costa Rican stuff. And here I am, writing a book that I’m obviously writing over many days. I used to only be able to write papers the night before they were due. A thirteen pager, twenty six pages, a few ten pagers, all finished right around 5am, edited in the twenty minutes before class, and frantically printed out. Writing the night before the due date ensured that I couldn’t be distracted, procrastinate, or worry. I just knew there was nothing to do until 12 hours before the due. And so I was mostly relaxed, when papers were due. There was one paper in graduate school that I wrote during the day, maybe a week before it was due. That went very well. And now here I am, writing most days, a little more at a time. I like this way better. I like writing during the day, particularly in the morning. The birds are happiest (I imagine), the people walking their dogs are least harried. And the coffee is acceptable to drink by the body. And most of what I do is a response to the way my body responds to things. How could it be otherwise?