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I almost got married once, in Licking County, somewhere in southern Ohio. In truth we did write a number of postcards to friends informing them that we had been married and that owing to utter bliss would not be returning to school in the fall. Just like in that Rod Stewart song, sort of. In the end we had to reveal that we were lying but everyone took it well. I had lost touch by then with almost everyone "from before." Once a few years of silence go drifting by it's hard to get dialogue back underway. I didn't wash my clothes all summer though I lived over a laundromat. I always had something better to do with the quarters. There was a tiny white puppy in our bathroom, on a carpet of back pages from the Village Voice. The puppy barked all the time. There had been a rash of attacks in the city involving crossbows. Was this some kind of fad. Also a pickpocket robbery that began when an egg was dropped from a window onto the victim's head. Then there was the "flesh-eating disease," and the "black mold" blamed for unprecedented rates of respiratory infection. I was resisting the desire for unhealthy food. A man who nicked his finger sharpening ice skates died three days later when the infection spread up his arm and into his heart. After that I went out to my mother's house to pack up the rest of my books and UPS them to myself. It occurred to me days afterward that there were now two enormously significant places that I had quite possibly seen for the last time. A "Good Samaritan" approached the victim with a handkerchief, offering help, and while helping lifted her or his wallet. I thought of flux as the essence of things (Heraclitus). After a sip of whiskey icons surfaced in consciousness like fish. The chest of a man pierced in a duel. That phase of life was shaping up as one of secluded processing rather than outward gathering. Everyone was getting married. It was a survival mechanism of mine to romanticize my locale and situation. I thought that the city had an oddly calming effect on a certain kind of person. I had taken to washing and disinfecting every nick and scrape and embalming it in liquid vitamin E to accelerate healing. My room was medium-sized by city standards. I was beginning to notice a change in my way of regarding infinitesimal daily strivings. It amounted to a teleological impulse so I resisted it. For days I didn't think to look at the sky. I spent my afternoons helping stupid customers find books which were right under their noses. This was before everyone was getting divorced. The figure that some testimonies gave was one inch of flesh or muscle per hour. I could not think in the city but I enjoyed it immensely. bought cheap cocaine and stayed up all night shaking. Snow and anticipation. Relations of mere acquaintance were duds and those to whom I felt genuinely close lived far away. All the gloried solitude was fine but I knew that a few more years would change that. I turned bright red at the slightest provocation. Someone yelled "Mom" at thirty-second intervals all night out in the alley. I worried that the future might slip into senseless routine. Part of it was an absurd desire to return to the Catholicism of my childhood. But what to do. I had only recently turned the spines of my books outward.


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brian lennon