Life at № 42
I woke up at 5am. That means I slept 2 hours and 40 minutes. When I woke up I considered, as I do every day, how many times I’ve had to wake up, and how many more may be still to come. Exhausting. Mike said I’m falling back into my isolationist ways and it’s not good for me- so he cajoled me into accompanying him to Toulouse. I agreed, with the condition I didn’t have to get out of the car.
The landscape was wonderful. Sunflowers everywhere. But I don’t like being far from the house or going to new places. I wore all black, and my slip on shoes with the metal bit. I’ve had them for 19 years.
On the way there were five chateaus I could see from the road. My favourite is in Viviers-Lès-Montagnes. I wondered how much they might be worth; and that made me think of parameters. What’s expensive for one place may be cheap in another. I’ve always had trouble with parameters. That’s in part due to my childhood, but also because of my work, and the people I know. Sometimes I’ll deal with a client who purchases a work of art worth more than I’ll make in a year, or five years.
I think of everything I bought this year to try to decide what my parameters are now. Almost everything was cheap. Sort of. The English Regency desk was a fantastic deal. The Georgian chest as well. Was that this year or last year? I can’t place it. I see my reflection in the window. Not bad. Probably better if I didn’t wear thick black Clark Kent glasses. I remember that in the top right drawer of the Regency desk are unsigned papers. We never made a final decision on what happens to our property if we both die at the same time (like in a car accident.)
We’re both in a car right now. This is not good. And the dogs are alone at home. I knew they should have come with us. I told him so. Or maybe that wasn’t a good idea. Is it better to die in a car accident or from starvation? Surely the police will check on the house if we die in an accident? Is that a thing? Do the police do that? I hope so. The (adult) children will surely step in to take care of the dogs if we die. [two surely’s too close together, funny how the mind works] Won’t they? That should have been the decision. A conditional inheritance. Are conditional inheritances legal? Can you impose any condition? Can you make someone chop off a limb? Can you make a Republican “turn” transgender?
The closer we get to the city, the more cars I see. It’s terrible. We’re surrounded. Traffic. Now we’re stuck. My breathing gets faster. I look around and my head transforms the cars into a scene with ants. Multiple rows of ants, barely moving, all trying to get to the same place because their survival depends on it. No individuals, no personal volition. Eusociality. It’s all mechanic. They’re part of a larger organism. I wonder if I would’ve been happier if I were part of it? Impossible. Would I be content if I were smarter? Thinner? Wealthier? Taller?
Those aren’t ends, they’re means. Tools to (try to) win the Please Love Me game. And all that is, is a primal desire for survival. Or better said, a strategy for survival. Different cars, different clothes, different hair, the illusion of uniqueness and value. I want to go home. I don’t like being away from the dogs. I feel vulnerable. If the ants notice I’m not one of them, they could turn on me. I hate ants. Dirk Bogarde’s partner also hated ants. Dirk was convinced ant poison is what killed him (the partner.)
What would the world look like to someone visiting it for the first time. Not great. [Human] Animals who fabricate identities based mostly on address at the time of birth. Animals who mimic the behaviour of other animals who they believe, often arbitrarily, have the best chances of survival. Many of them carry cross-shaped amulets which they think gives them special powers. Others cover the females of their group in sheets. They’re almost universally bombarded with messages designed to keep them in line, to keep the machine working.
We arrive at the airport. People (in general) are mostly unattractive and badly dressed. I wonder what the exact percentage of attractive to unattractive might be. One in ten? That seems optimistic. I see her and wave. She gets into the car. We can go home! She updates us on everything that’s happened in southern Spain in our absence. Nothing has changed. I feel calm now. When we left Spain, some people didn’t take it well. Including me. By taking a different course, we were calling into question the survival strategy of our group- and of course re-examining our own.
My strategy hasn’t been creative, although I like to tell myself it has. I just looked for the best animals, for the best herd, and I blended in. This is a common technique. We’re going to have a light lunch. Melon and Spanish ham, the good stuff. Should I call it Okja just to be perverse? In 15 hours I’m going to go to bed. Once I put my glasses on the night stand I’m going to think I don’t want to live any more. Then I’m going to think that I also don’t want to die. This happens every night. And then I wake up and days happen all over again.