I almost miss the train.
I miss the appointment on purpose because my boss misses the meeting.
I make it to drinks but leave early so that I do not miss the screening. I leave a $20 bill on the table for my Americano, his two beers, and the first book of poetry he's now sold.
I make it to the bathroom before I piss my pants.
I make it early to the screening. I get an open seat. Children Who Won't Die focuses on Shusaku Arakawa's belief in Reversible Destiny, manifested through his experiments and constructions. With his wife and partner, poet Madeline Gins, their manifestations made art, but the affect is only user-generated. One must understand by choice. You can live forever if you choose not to die, but to do so you must always renew. As Arakawa said, there is no history to anything.
The number 8 is projected, the opening countdown on pause. Infinity, on pause. Is one always early when infinite?
Arakawa chose not to die, but he did in 2010 at the age of 73.
Gins chose not to die, but she did in 2014 at the age of 72.
Only the death of man is the death of time.
I make it to the end of the party after the screening.
My friend the editor gets me a very watered vodka on the magazine's tab, just the way I asked for it. I let her drink it because she is managing the party and is probably dehydrated. Writers like to drink, they say. She introduces me to a man who likes my calling card, after I tell him about the bodily performance we are planning. My friend and I have not seen each other since the night before I left, but what is time if here we are now? We discuss gentlemen callers and calls for proposals but not gentlemen proposing. We decide we will make calling cards for our bodily performance.
A writer I know who I did not expect to see approaches me at the bar. The water I'm given is soda, so I leave it. Writers like to drink, they say. I would like a coffee. My writing friend says he has been thinking about my piece, the one about my body, about sex and debasement, about wanting what isn't, about value, about history. My value, historically. The piece is broken into the parts I remember of the parts that I played. Or, the parts I was missing. Or, the parts I had but could not assemble. He asks me where the piece is now and I tell him it's in parts. He says he has been thinking about it since thinking so many pieces are homogenized by women, "templates" as he calls their stories about body and sex. I am thankful for breaking the template but I don't ask him which parts he specifically recalls. I don't ask myself about the whole. I thank him again.
"Things always get abbreviated in the printed form," Arakawa said.
When the party moves to the front bar from the private back, my writing friend and I discuss a writer we don't know with another friend of ours, another editor. The three of us question the validity of the other (non-present) writer's traumatic essay. We agree we do not believe her. As a triangle I feel that our assertion has more power than if we were standing as a line against the bar, in a group circle, or with a fourth person as the corner of a square. I wonder if Arakawa would agree with me.
If no one is around to count, who is to say it counted?
I do not leave without a bag and an anthology. "They published me that year but I wasn't anthologized," says my writing friend when I ask if he has a copy. I wonder whose anthologies I would make it into if people printed each year as an authorized memento, a careful selection of the artifact of their lives. What is most valuable to include? Who is most valued? Thank you for submitting. Not a request to obey, but to be.
I do not make it to see another friend after the party, but he and I choose this.
I almost miss the train.