Friday, January 20, 2012

An Answer Learned in Time

(Words that want to be something a bit more than just a blog post)

Here I am, halfway through the narrative arc that is the story of my own life, unfolding. And yet, the passage of a freight train can move me to tears.

Pushing poignancy before it, this massive conveyance rumbles into view. The motion of it, and the colors - the gold and ruby and turquoise of the cars stacked upon each other like blocks, like a gigantic child's playthings pushing across the land. The noise of it comes first, a low boom of apprehension, like that heard just before disaster falls, the warning of earthquakes, and traffic collisions, of bombing planes... and of freight trains, moving slowly, implacably across the land. Its archaic beauty steals my breath. It signifies a different era, an anachronism, an odd juxtaposition into the quiet grey peace of the dull day.

The flat-edged flatness is the note of Wil Wheaton's voice. He narrates the audio book that my husband is currently listening to. Ready, Player One is a dreary book, written in a style heavy in explication. Wil Wheaton's oddly level, deep voice does it justice, with his odd pronunciation of vowels, his way of lingering on the last word in the sentence, stretching it into an emphasis like the clanking sound of a brass gong hit awry. The word "howl" falls from his mouth as four separate sounds, the baritone of his voice going on and on, speaking into the silence of our early morning living room where I sit on my couch, too groggy to do much besides sip my tea and listen to the story by default.

Wil Wheaton troubles me. In Star Trek, he is so young, his dark eyes eager and intelligent, promising such possibilities. But when he appears across my screen in Big Bang Theory, he is a villain. Stocky, stodgy, padded by age. The change perturbs me. Where has the helpful, gifted boy gone? How has he disappeared into this new character? And into the character in the audio book, whose name I do not even catch because I am not listening that carefully.

In the meantime I know, Wil Wheaton did some technological stuff. He blogged, he tweeted. He drew so many followers that a unit of measurement - I think 500,000 followers- is named for him.

At least, that's what I think I know. Just those sparse facts, tiny intersection points of Wil Wheaton into my own life. Just enough to disturb me with the sense that something is not quite right here. Something is sad. Is it simply the passage of time? Is it simply that we all age, and change as we age? What bothers me so in Wil's deadpan delivery and the freight train's implacable passage?

A song promises me that the time of my life will be an answer learned in time. I think of time, of the way it spins the hands around on the beige-painted face of the Christmas clock poised upon my mantle, the red-clicking-forward of my alarm clock, now one number and with my next blink, another, always too quickly to be perceived except in retrospect. My mind casts itself back through my own arc, flipping the pages of the chapters I've lived so far. The rest of the book lies heavy in my hands, sealed and impenetrable. My mind casts forward into empty air, wondering how far the arc will carry me.

Wondering what comes next.

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