The Unused

This house is all too familiar, like the familiarity of an older sibling. No formal introduction. She is there. This house. I never experienced the excitement of its newness, of poking my head prematurely out of a car window just to spot its façade from a distance. The tingle in legs while approaching the front door. I never got to experience setting my eyes for the first time upon shiny chestnut dining room table illuminated by morning light, white carpeted stairs winding up to mirrored hallway, the smell of fresh paint. I grew into this house, like an embryo in the womb that knows no other home.

And yet, as I wander towards my old bedroom, as I have in the past a thousand times, there is something new mingled with the automatic, a fresh feeling in these steps, the way the balls of my bare feet land on the cool tile. Heel to toe. Heel to toe. As I draw closer to the doorway, I feel a vague sense of curiosity, as when waking from a dream only partially remembered. One senses something of a whole lacking all of its parts. The more one struggles to fill in the gaps, the more one creates new imagery. Rather than struggle to remember old fragments of memories, I want to create new ones.

I allow my fingers to feel for the light switch on the adjacent wall. Upon the first flash of light, I stand in the entrance, allowing my eyes to slowly adjust. The room newly reveals itself to me, my eyes moving over every object, savoring the richness of the dark colors and textures: shaggy brown couch by left wall, next to two-drawer desk. Battered headboard propped up by queen-sized bed against the far wall. Single stool with red round cushion sitting aimlessly by sliding-door closet. As I scan my eyes over this room, I realize that this particular arrangement can never be precisely duplicated.

I want to experience this bed anew. But it feels as warm and comfortable as it did when I was a child, wrapped tightly in sheets. The slight buzzing sound of the lava lamp and its blue aura soothes me into rest. Warm palms to hot cheeks. Legs bent to the side like the fragile legs of a helpless bird. A return to that awkward, budding body of youth, restrained by fear of the unknown, yet bursting with curiosity. At once, I want to take flight, but the anchor of this bed and the warmth of these blankets secure legs, hands, cheeks.
* * *
(Excerpt from “The Unused,” from Myths & Meditations)
As I rounded out my reading of Proust’s Volume IV, Sodom & Gomorrah, I found the narrator musing upon how the unchangingness of his room in Balbec only reinforces the fact of his own transformations, the unity of the scene the diversity of his own change of heart and life. It moved me to ponder over what I’m seeking to do in “The Unused.” I seek to portray the ever-constant desire to experience such unchangeableness or fixedness anew. How does one experience such fixed settings in the world beyond memory and tedium? Or are we necessarily trapped in our connections to memory and routine? “The Unused” is part of the ‘New Beginnings’ section of my work-in-progress, Myths & Meditations.

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