Seven is a lucky number, supposedly. I misspelled the word “supposedly” at first, typing it out “supposefly” by accident. Suppose. Fly. Suppose I could fly? Suppose a fly? Suppose “fly”, the word? Freudian slip, I don’t know what you’re trying to tell me. You need to be clearer, if you want me to listen to you.
I am flying in less than two weeks now, though. Maybe that’s what the suppose-fly business was all about. I’m going to be flying out of my beloved England on December 6, a Thursday, in the evening.
Here is a story about things that happen in Oxford sometimes. My thoughts are in disarray tonight, and so putting things together in the following form should make things easier.
A crowd gathers in front of the Pret A Manger on Cornmarket Street. They are holding signs and chanting. They want Palestine to be freed. They announce to the world that they are all Palestinians. They don’t discriminate – they include anyone who wants to stand with them. They are all Palestinians.
Two girls watch them for a while before disappearing into a shop across the way in order to buy glitter, safety-pins and other basic needs for what is to be one of the biggest nights of the year. They aren’t the only ones. The city is packed with people in their late teens and early twenties, finding their way between the slow-walking, photograph-taking tourists. The students are easy to pick out. They’re the ones who don’t look awed anymore. They’re the ones whose eyes are slightly glazed, either with last night’s alcohol or with the weight of their own inflated thoughts. They have balloon heads, if balloons were always filled with shrieking confetti. They have concrete heads, if concrete could also have live worms crawling around in it.
The big night happens. There is a tent, there are lights, there are noodles and there is booze. There are lots of blackened eyes. Nobody gets as sweaty as they wish they would because even under the tent, it can get cold. One blond man in smart casual dress didn’t get the memo, he doesn’t understand what kind of party this is. He is escorted out by security officers before midnight, fighting them valiantly. His friends trail along behind the guards, drunkenly accepting the situation, not asking any questions.
Many things happen that night. There are plays and other parties and there is always something else to do if you go looking for it. There is also always work, waiting, sizzling like a popcorn pot on a low flame. It waits in your room and its smell reaches you eventually; the oil, burning, and then the popping noise as the guilt-kernels begin to smash against the metallic top of your brain. That’s when you know it’s time to go home. If you don’t, the house might burn down.
There is another week, the sixth or seventh or eighth really, but it’s named – officially – only the sixth. That’s acceptable. It is like any other week, except people begin to disappear. Some are in their rooms. Others hole up in corners of various libraries. There is a smell of hormones permeating the city, or maybe it’s Christmas, or maybe it’s just your fucked up nostrils. You remember to be thankful. You forget. You remember. You rebel. You remind yourself. You hate it. You’re thankful anyway. It’s petty not to be. There is too much that’s good, and anyone who doesn’t realize that… stop. No judging.
A restaurant is packed for a girl’s birthday. Her face is pasted on all of her presents, because her friends love her, think she is beautiful, and want to remind her of that. She laughs, but inside, she melts. Someone thinks I’m beautiful, she wants to sing, and as everyone hands the presents around, they all agree. She is beautiful because she is she, one of a kind, the only one. Each person is. Everyone is beautiful. This is a thing to be thankful for, in grocery-stores and markets, on buses and on dark streets where only houses are visible. The houses could be in Yonkers, or in Bronxville, or in Los Angeles or in New Jersey. But they’re not. They’re here, and they have their own brand of mist hanging in front of them.
Marshmallows, two bags of them, each bag mixing pink and white tufts of sugar. They go on some yams. It is the day after Thanksgiving.