Visual Anatomy is a bird's eye view of my inner workings, a pixelated spilling of my guts and thoughts spread out into a trilogy. Find out more here.
It was close to midnight. A passionate fire sat beside me in the form of flesh and blood and he drove the vehicle we were in. Its ugly shade of green was obscure in the dim night, thankfully, but dim as it was, I could still make out the silhouettes of trees passing us by as we cruised.
We were two bodies in a confined space soaking in the serenity of isolation. The air conditioner was humming lowly, the stereo off, our attention tuned in. Laced fingers. This was a familiar retreat.
"What is the one thing you want to do in the entire world?" he asked me.
We had spent the past ten minutes just silently being, but his words did not startle me. He spoke with the voice he reserved for night time conversations, rs a little rounder, ts a little softer, volume a little lower, but this did not stop me from picking out the loopholes in his question. A slip up, I presumed, but I played along.
"Sorry, let me fix that," his face was partially concealed by the moving shadows of our surroundings, but I could make out a little smile when I took a peek from his shoulder where I was leaning on -- he had caught on, "If every problem in your life is solved and you had all the resources in the world to spare, what is the one thing you want to do?"
We've had this conversation before. Late night discussions of millennials searching for utopia. Maybe it was the weight of the night that brought about the question. I felt it, at least. My heart was a bit heavier that night, my soul a little bit more hollow from the exhaustion of the universe. Collapsing was a viable option.
He was warm -- he was always warm -- and his breathing was steady. The rhythm at which his shoulders rose and fell, like the crashing waves of an ocean that smelled like sun and salt and simplicity, was gentle and if I listened hard enough, I could hear his pulse. It was a quiet sort of pulse. A pulse that was trapped in a cage made of mistakes and regrets, but it was there. A peak in the valley.
It was then that I realized he, whose world was as tainted and tarnished as mine, was reminding me as an equal that dreams are the best ways to fill the gaps in our reality.
I leaned forward so that I could peek through the windshield and into the midnight sky for the seventh time that night. His hand had let go of mine and I heard a chuckle, the very same one I've heard seven times that night. Open air soon approached and I could see. The sky was desolate save for the evening star that always blinked down on this ugly green car no matter where we were. But, one star was all I needed. I said, "Travel."
It was such a beautiful word.
"Travel," I said again, feeling on my tongue the rolling of lanky consonants and in my mouth the almost impossible hardness of such a dreamy word.
"Where to?" he asked. He already knew my answer -- we had spent countless hours talking about leaving the small island where we lived -- but he asked anyway.
Almost instantly, my soul was a riot. If the galaxy were a part of my body, it'd be the blood running through my veins. Where to? So innocent, so hopeful, so sure. New York City, London, Tokyo. Cities on a map I've pinned on for years. Stories I have hoped to let my soul inhale. The one star that evening, sitting so nonchalantly high in the sky, felt like an X on the map to follow. It was blinking, calling me along.
"Everywhere," I said.
"New York City," his consonants were ridged.
Maybe if we did follow the star, it'd lead us to a whole new world. The prospect was tempting. To leave. Breathe a different kind of air, see a different shade of sky. I ached.
"I want to travel the world," I said, "and then the galaxy, and then the universe."
I had settled back onto his shoulders, a nook between his dimpled chin and chest that somehow fits my head perfectly. After I said that, I had felt infinitely smaller, and here was my aching heart searching for comfort in this vast, vast universe.
"Let's go, then," he said -- he knew of my woes, I could tell, and I felt the ache hush a little, "Let's go together."
I smiled; this was another routine exchange. Young bloods reaching for hope, making promises out of strings of words wound tightly together. The night was our witness. We knew that come morning, she'll be gone and all that'd be left are frayed strings. Hazy. Maybe a memory.
"Okay," I said.
His hands were back in mine, our fingers pieces of a puzzle that formed an image of a dream. I closed my eyes and he drove on, his shoulders rising and falling like the perfect waves of an ocean a million miles away. And there we were, veins buzzing with the roads and the clouds and the stars of lands we hope to go one day.
It was midnight. The air conditioner was humming lowly, the stereo off, our attention tuned in. Laced fingers, a promise held between them like an amulet against the world.