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Analog Boy and Digital Girl
I try to remember the day we walked to the store in the middle of nowhere, no signs to mark the roads or show the way. You walked with me, on your own two legs, on that dirt road only wide enough for one car. We only saw one car. We saw it with our eyes. We saw the leaves too, changing their skin for the autumn fashion show, and we saw the sun rise slowly to its throne in the middle of the sky. We heard the birds sing with our ears, and they really sung; it was real. And when our feet touched the ground our leg muscles tightened and when we lifted our feet up our leg muscles loosened. Loose, tight, loose, tight. We marched to the store.
The store was dirty. Hiroshima clouds of dust puffed up around our shoes; tiny dust versions of Nagasaki were destroyed with every passing step. A lone, oscillating fan nodded no at me. I grabbed the popsicle anyway. It was blue and cold and in my hand. I bought it with paper money and received circular pieces of metal as change. We walked back to her house. Loose, tight, lick, loose, tight, lick. Popsicle juice escaped from the confines of solid matter and ran down the stick and onto my fingers. I licked the juice off my fingers. They were still sticky. By the time we got back to your place, I had to wash my hands. I didn’t sing Happy Birthday twice like the school nurses told me, but my hands weren’t sticky anymore.
We watched a movie. My mom called my cell phone. I was gone.
You’re gone now. Lost, maybe, and hard to find again. There are no bushes to look behind where you are. No trees. Only lines and lines of code, HTML and CSS, Java and C++.
You send me a text message. Something insignificant. Then you tell me you miss me. That we’ll see each other soon. But it’s not true. I’ll see you. I’ll see you for real, with my eyes. But all you have left is a camera lens, digital and measured in megapixels. I cannot begin to imagine the HD world you live in. I can’t imagine what it must be like to enhance every color, change the lighting, and photoshop in real time. Five minutes after anything has ever happened to you, the pictures are already on Facebook.
And I send a text message back to you. “I miss you as the Earth misses the moon.” Proper grammar and everything. You just LOL back, a cornucopia of ROFLs and LMAOs. As if I am speaking in hyperbole. I’m not. It’s true. I am Mother Earth, filled with jungles and monkeys and magic and God, filled with giraffes and love and nuclear weapons and politicians, filled with couples making love and drinking themselves to death, filled with dirt and grime and worms and roots and held together by pure will. I am Mother Earth, and you are Child Moon. You are filled with nothing but dust. Cold, grey dust. Held together by chicken wire. Nothing but dust.
I try to remember the way you used to be. Real, that’s what you were. You were flesh and blood, flesh and bone, flesh and muscle, flesh, just as you are now. Underneath the flesh is what has changed. Your heart only pumps blood now, no love. Your brain has dissolved to water, splish splash, holding nothing. Why bother? Fragments of knowledge can be frozen together thanks to Wikipedia and Google, pop culture references you don’t understand can be watched on YouTube again and then again just in case you didn’t quite understand the first time.
It makes it so difficult to kiss you. I can’t kiss you when I know that the blush in your cheeks is just blood. I can’t kiss you when all I can hear – over the sound of whatever electronica band you’ve downloaded this week – is your brain splish splashing, to and fro from ear to the other, leaking out whatever fragments of knowledge you still had left.
I can’t kiss you with your knowledge spilling all over my hands as I merely attempt to cradle your head, stroke your hair, make you feel the love flowing into my fingertips.
You call me and ask me, “What’s up?”
Your voice is tinny, thin, digital.
I try to make my voice as warm as possible to make up for it.
I ask you if maybe you want to take a walk in the woods sometime. See birds. Find an old country road. You laugh and say you’re really busy, but sometime, yeah, we’ll do something. Maybe watch a movie or play a video game. You just got a new one about ninjas, want to try that?
I mumble yes. Make vague plans for later. Love you too, hang up.
Tonight, when I go to bed, I am going to imagine what our future could have been. I am going to imagine the house we were going to live in. Log house, like Lincoln. We would lie on a bear skin rug, a real one, with real fur. Hell, we could have had it with blood stains still. And you know what? We’d lie naked, because this is my wild fantasy now and this is the way it has to be. We’d lie naked, and we’d listen to some folk band (Iron & Wine?) on an old cassette boombox, and we’d hear the crackle of the war in our fireplace and we’d hear the crackle of the magnetic tape and we’d hear the crackle of our hearts, beating love into every last pore of our bodies.
The next morning, we would eat muffins made with wild blueberries, and you would work in the garden while I went down to the river to fish, and we’d meet back for dinner and we’d talk about our day and it would never be boring, we would always have something to talk about, we’d always have something to say, no matter how mundane, we would care, because we would care about each other and that’s the way this has to be! And you’d work on your novel on an old typewriter and I would read Shakespeare by candlelight and we would never be interrupted by a text message or an e-mail or any of that shit.
All we would have is ourselves, and Mother Earth.
Before we went to bed at night, we would both stare up into the sky. We would stare at that moon. We would talk to the moon, ask her to come back to Mother Earth. Tell her we love her, and that we forgive her for losing herself. And even though the moon would never come back, we would know that we gave it our best shot.