Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bjorn Skol: How I Looked for Love



I drove madly up and down the streets looking for a woman I knew I would find against impossible odds. She had dazzled me, disoriented me, loved me, and left me in the space of about three seconds, and I just had to find out if there was more to it than that. Something cosmic and life-changing, even revolutionary and unchangeable? Whatever it was, I knew it was there, even if it couldn’t be. No matter how unlikely, I would find it.

My rational mind had many things to say about this: you’ll never find her, what will you actually say, you probably don’t have anything substantial in common anyway, of course you realize this is nonsense, right? But I’d effectively lost my mind. What that meant when it was intact as a backseat driver wasn’t abundantly clear, but I didn’t need the thing to guide me, anyway. That was the point.

Clearly I was able to function without it. She couldn’t have gone far, right?

My mind didn’t answer. Typical.

Of course it wasn’t far, she could only have gone so far. Cars were fast, but bikes were slow! It was obvious. But the lakeside corridor was easy to traverse by bike, being mostly flat. But I couldn’t be pressed to worry about such details.

“Will you even recognize her if you see her?” I’d been asked by some sane part of my brain.

“Of course,” I replied.

“So what does she look like,” it asked.

“Well, sunglasses…helmet…uh, brown hair. I think she was white. Pretty. Kind of offbeat, maybe with some tattoos? And wearing…something tannish or brown? With patterns? Maybe pants or shorts?”

“Ha. So you just need to find a woman on a sunny day in biker’s paradise in Seattle, a very white town, who has a helmet and sunglasses on.”

“Yeah. Well, it’s not that white….plus we’re not far from the areas that have the most black people in them.”

“And you’ve seen enough black folks down here for them to make a difference statistically?”

“Yeah, I think there were like a half dozen or so? Maybe they weren’t all black, but for the purpose of this search, it’s just general skin tone that matters.”

“You’re being awfully rational up there without me. But don’t get cocky; you’re missing the point.”

“You're being awfully annoyed for being my unemotional side. What's the point, then?”

“You’ll never find her.”

“Stop being so negative.”

“You know, just get my attention when you’ve failed here. I’ve got better things to do.”

“Like?”

“Like focusing on not letting you forget rules of the road. Watch out for that kid!”

“I saw the kid.”

“Anyway, later.”

“Bye.”

I kept on without him. It. Me. Whatever. Or at least, I was still questing and driven by emotion, and possibly caffeine in my veins and soreness in my eyes from too much sun exposure and not enough water. Anyway, I was doing my own thing without paying any attention whatsoever to what the rational part of my brain was up to quietly in the background. Self-preservation and other menial, trivial tasks. Nothing so important as looking for a cosmically-intended love.

Why hadn’t I tried to find her right away? Instead of going after her, I’d left the area and gotten all the way up the hill, away from the water, before I’d realized I had to go back and at least try to find her. Perhaps that was what had done this effort in before it began.

This, of course, was the reason for my failure. It was just like the airliner I’d lost earlier: there it was, flying eastward, when I glanced away; immediately afterward, I’d glanced back and it was gone, no way to have covered the space between it and the nearest clouds. Or so my eyes told me.

Clearly, something strange had happened when I looked away, but what it was I couldn’t say. What sort of thing could cause that? Maybe that’s what happened to that missing flight in Asia. Now it’s in some other time or reality with no hope of return. Someone had even said that.

I’d have to check the news to see about any local missing flights.

Back to the driving: I watched the streets and scoured faced of the people on either side of the road, especially those with bikes. At a crowded section with cafes and lots of people, I realized it really was like a needle in a haystack. The ghost of my minds voice told me, “see?”, but of course I was still out of my mind and after its brief check-in, I hadn’t heard back.

I saw a girl in a dress with a bike laying on the grass, but I didn’t think it was her. I thought she noticed me noticing her, and hopefully didn’t think I was trying to look up her dress because she was doing something to adjust it as I passed.

I was beginning to grow doubtful. Anyway, I was getting to explore and enjoy a beautiful area and seeing some sights, at least when I wasn’t busy dodging bikes.

My doubt crystallized when I realized that part of the road ahead was closed to cars.

“A place where cars can’t go!? This is madness! How will I find her?”

“Well I’d say something but—“

“Nope, not listening, not going to give up!”

“Well you’ve been at this for a good thirty minutes, you can’t keep it up and you can’t go down there.”

“Sure I can, it’s got to be fate that we’ll meet!”

“But you did meet. You said hello. Nothing else happened until you got this fate business in your head after the fact.”

“…that’s only a minor setback.”

“Well how do you know it’s fate, anyway?”

“I can feel it.”

“That emotion you’re feeling, I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

“Why not?”

“For starters, it’s the same feeling you get when you think about going somewhere to get a good sandwich.”

“No it’s not. It’s so much bigger than that.”

“Yes it is. Just as if it were a really big sandwich.”

“I really don’t believe you.”

“But you trust this feeling? Great. Do I need to explain to you how you can’t use a feeling to justify a feeling? You sound like some kind of religious zealot.”

“I do not.”

“Yes you do.”

“No I don’t.”

“This is asinine. You’re taking a position of faith that is based only upon itself. That’s circular logic. You’ve lost the argument.”

“…No I haven’t.”

“Sigh. Well never mind that then. How about the fact that every passing minute puts her position both further away and more uncertain? That doesn’t bother you?”

“Should it?”

“I—I’m not going to answer that. You really have lost it this time.”

“I’m sure some intuition will kick in and tell me which way to go to find her.”

“Sure.”

“I bet if I just keep going—“

“You’ll run out of gas before you accomplish anything? Why do you hate the earth?”

“I don’t—hey, stop changing the subject.”

“You’re the one who changed it away from how you can’t drive any further on this road.”

I was right. I’d already diverted through a shady forested area.

“Well, I can go around and meet up with this road afterwards.”

“Do you think she’s just going in a straight line? She’s going to go off the path sometime.”

“And that’s precisely when our paths will cross again!”

“You are utterly hopeless.”

“I think you are the hopeless one here, brain!”

I must have won because it shut up after that.

I tried following a few of the bike routes that led away from the water. She probably lived closer to where I lived, so maybe she’d already taken one of those in the same direction. But it was slower for bikers gong up these steep hills, so she couldn’t have gone far that way, and I saw nobody fitting her description. If she’d gone where I couldn’t drive, maybe it was fate that we’d meet another day.

Maybe that’s what I needed to learn here: when to stop trying to do something by trying and instead letting it happen. That idea became appealing, and certainly not because I was getting tired of driving around with no plan. Though I would never admit such a thing.

That must be it, then. The universe would probably dump her right in my lap—figuratively, that is—as soon as I relaxed and stopped trying to make something happen. That was how it got you: right when you stopped expecting it.

So I had to work on stopping that expectation while still believing in it. Tricky.

I didn’t give up though: I just retraced my route and took a detour to the grocery store. I did have to pee, so what would be a good place to take care of that and get some groceries. And lunch. I was really hungry, I began to notice.

Hey, maybe she shopped at the same store. Maybe she lived in the same neighborhood and I would meet her for real any day now. Maybe, if I just kept my eyes open, I could suddenly have a chance encounter that would begin the dream life I’d just been hoping for. Everything would be perfect.

You had to believe in these things, of course, even if the evidence for them had always been absent or actually negative. That was the wrong way to think about it. For this was The Truth I was seeking, governed by orderly rules of fate, and surely I would be due some great reward for putting forth the effort to believe, right?

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