From my youngest days, my most satisfying memories are of leaving: in the back seat of a car, head tilted against the seat and face pressed against the window, riding out of town forever. Everything is over. I paint memories colored in past laughter and moments of friendship, while the outdoors blurs into a flashing distance.

I imagine leaving my life like tidying up a last apartment, checking the corners are swept and the curtains drawn, then softly pulling the door closed behind me. There’s nothing left to do. All that is – was.

I’m fifty three years old and I confess my imagination has been more satisfying than the realities which inform and inspire it. I don’t understand people. I speak to them and they don’t respond to what I say. I’m more interesting to me than they are. If I go to a party (which is rare) I sit in a corner and watch.

I used to be anchored to the world by my love for women. Pursuing them is a practical matter, involving commitment to physical detail and well-defined mannerisms. As the urgency of youth has waned, I find it easier to conduct my affairs in my mind, and simply seeing a woman cross the street is often satisfying enough.

I was surprised, as I lived, by how firmly people believe in themselves – and how silly their ideas generally are. In my lifetime, ‘things’ – the lives people lead, the opportunities they have, the meals they eat – in my lifetime ‘things’ have slowly gotten worse. It seems things should be getting better. We make pocket telephones that speak and tell which nearby restaurant we’ll prefer, yet children are born into poverty.

I thought this was about an inappropriate political arrangement. I thought we could identify the problem and fix it. Until I discovered people don’t want to fix it. Folks don’t want to overcome suffering – they simply don’t want to be among those who suffer.

I’m disappointed, but I’m not unhappy. I remember I’m only imagining things; the way things ‘ought’ to be. With my feet on the ground, I am only what God made me. I’ve gotten better, as I’ve gone along, at not trying to impose too much. My hope for the world isn’t really the hope for the world.

My walls are drawing closer and my spaces are getting tidier. When everything that’s past is all there is, I will be content to softly close the door.

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