You know when you’re trying to formulate words, move two lips,…two but just one set….to help articulate signals of thought from the brain to the mouth? Interior nothings, like wispy ghosts floating in a space that mean something but also how can they? Because they are just little nothings in the filled space of your skull…. Until they become pushed toward the lower part of your face, pushed out, like air, vocalized. The warm air of sentences spews into the space between you and another or others and their heads, with two ears….two but just one set of ears on each person….ingesting that musical, just recently formulated pocket of air in the negative space between 2, and make sense of it. We are machines and calculators. I, a machine, form words. The other, a calculator, computing the meaning and purpose.
I say, “Kinda like the dinosaurs. Here today, gone tomorrow. Except more like: here yesterday, also gone yesterday.”
I refer to my friend, the other, the calculator, the giant computer from the 1980s, standing across from me, and her relationship with another boy. One that was sorta there, I mean, even for a solid month, but was never really there, you know? Young people have that ability. To be present, even thousands of miles away. Social media. Texting. Friends: 15 years of being babies and then…debauchery, 2 years pass, one night out and then another 3 years of “I miss you’s, we should get together soon’s” that never land. Just hot air, said but never meant and never computed properly. That’s friendship. That’s love these days.
“Dinosaur, yeah”, she says back. I can see her interior head imagining it now – her the T-Rex; him, an egg – potential but dead upon arrival. Her meal, and then, never born. She grows fast on the outside, but I can see her movement towards inevitable extinction on the inside. A done-ness, in a sense, with companionship.
I tell her, though my name is Sarah and a Triceratops is the natural, logical choice of personal dinosaur connection, I am like a Stegosaurus.
I think. I don’t know. Only because I don’t feel anything deeply towards the Triceratops or any other dinosaur, for that matter. What do you know about a Steg? I know it has a tiny head, probably a tiny brain. And some type of geometrically manipulated shapes, like screwed up triangles, growing out of its body. Dangerous-like. But how? They are on top. I would have to drop and roll to put down my enemy. Most likely I’d crumple him from my weight before the jagged edges of my spine-bit did any damage. How disappointing, how pathetic. I put down my enemies with an attribute that would break a scale.
I’m merely useless but impressively so. Not everyone or everything is a dinosaur. Not everyone has a purpose that no longer exists. That’s me. A steg. A space filler.
I remember then, a moment. 25 years ago, or maybe more, burned and burning into me. The very first thing that holds my memory – a gift that holds and grows. My mother gifting me my very self. Or what I would become. A tiny steg, stuffed, soft, brown and mine. A baby stegosaurus, born in another state, born from a business trip of questionable origins – but mine in my youth, because youth, or baby-ness, also births its own ignorance. Baby’s first stuffed animal.
His name was Washington. My name is Sarah. Not a triceratops. Nor a washington-saurus. Just two separate identities. Sarah and a steg. Two in one. Two for one. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. In some manner, however articulated, two becomes one. Separate but together.
My friend motions me back from my thoughts, with a wave, using her empty hand, other hand with drink, to get me there, back and grounded.
“Where did you go? We were talking about David?”
Yea, David. That one. That egg that I thought, 5 minutes ago, we metaphorically ate and then moved on.
The drink buying machine revolving constantly on both sides of us, ours for the taking, free liquid for our consumption, if we just flipped our hair a bit more and perked up our upper bodies. She had it so easily within her – me? It would take some time….but I had a feeling, a beautiful T-Rex, temporarily lacking her confidence, and a Stegosaurus, never having realized her very, very little potential, were landing nothing new tonight. Drink, body, meal, purpose or otherwise. Distraction was a smell many hungry men, and women, had in their repertoire. We embodied our own scent.
I sat, content with helping a companion grieve the death of something that really never mattered. You have to sometimes: to just deal with a person who should just be dealing but can’t. You have to do the hard part for them. It takes sacrificing yourself and your temporary enjoyment to make someone else better over time. I knew nothing I could do would help on a level that actually, deeply, meant something. But I knew, expertly, how to manipulate my words to get her to a place where she would have a 1-night stand so easily I should win an award. An Oscar for my acting for caring? A Noble Peace Prize for how to teach other normal people to help other not normal people to be happy, on a very short case-by-case level. I could make the world a better place, even as an extinct being, just by pretending. If happiness equated to sex. In a temporary sense.
I mean, what else did I have to do? A stegosaurus is a dinosaur so readily recognized by name. Top 10 of all creatures existing at that time. That. 10000000000000000000000000000000 years ago, right? I took science. Biology. AP. All that jazz. I must be right. Right?
A useless scientific achievement, merely for existing. One recognized but day-to-day never celebrated. Humans. Creatures. Dinosaurs. Everything is the same. If you think about it on the same level.
I say to my stupid, naive little T-Rex, “David, yea, what an asshole. You can do so much better.” She nods, but I can see it in her eyes, she hurts. Everyone feels the same. But no one, literally no one, can understand anyone, even their best friend, in that exact moment of heart-to-heart pain. I know she felt the same way as I did during the messy demise of my last serious relationship a year ago. I get it now. The empty but trying responses of my friends, after 4am text-drink-binging, of my regret and inability to deal with a new future. The difference is, I built my whole potential, wanted life around a lie. She built her next month around it. But with some, the feeling is the same.
“Help. I want to die.”
I know that feeling. She shouldn’t die. She can do better, but right now, no matter what anyone says, she can’t and won’t. She will want to die and feel like she is. She’s leaving this world, for tonight. An asteroid hitting and taking its prey.
The temporary happiness she had, temporarily (though she doesn’t know it yet) extinct. She will never be happy again, at this moment. So, I dive in. As my dinosaur self. Huge, dangerous and ugly – but with open ears. Mind to mouth, vocalized. Her? Her egg, regurgitated, in only its finest moments. And her, the T-rex. Tiny arms, retracted. Big heart, tiny ability to deal. Sad and in need of a hug: someone else to do all the work. Her, unable. I hold her. I do my best to transmit any warmth, though pretty much none, towards her heart. But I’m met with cold. We are reptiles, aren’t we? Machines. Calculators. Dinosaurs. Too cold to function like normal. So we take the night off. Feel too much and then, feel nothing. Numb.
Washington came from Washington, DC. A place. I’m reminded we are grounded and real, un-extinct things. I smile. She doesn’t. I have work to do.