Versöhnung

by Charlotte E. Wilde

I am a collector of details, minutia, tiny pieces of other’s lives. Conversations overheard in coffee shops are filed meticulously away, tales of childhood letters written to horses, and whispers shared over glasses of wine all become relics, shrines set up in the corner of my mind or piece of paper stashed for posterity.

I find myself lingering at the edges of peoples lives, prying crowbars into the corners of their memories, hoping to glean some understanding or insight as to a Freudian makeup or pathological problematic that could serve to clarify or represent their metaphysical being. Nothing is sweeter than dipping my tongue into the nectar of a stranger’s memory, an invasion best reserved for only the most intimate of friends or lovers and yet, I’m shamelessly indiscriminate. No photographed relic, no poetic prose, no personal detail or promise-made goes unturned, uncategorized, unexamined.

I’m listening to your whispers; a scavenger of the unnoticed. I’m pausing, hovering by your side in the metro; a thief of the better-left-unsaid.

And so it goes, I stick these artifacts to the wall of my mind, connected with thumbtacks and string in order that I might glean an understanding.  I trace and retrace the curves of my mental spider’s web, feeling for the truths of human nature, of human triumph, probing beyond the startling depths of sorrow or the soaring ecstasy of joy. It’s the tiniest things that interest me most– the way you’re still afraid of spiders, your thoughts on mortality that lean towards mysticism, or how, though she’s long gone, you can’t bring yourself to toss the champagne cork from your first Valentine’s together. Like a key on a geographical map these details become the guiding thread, illuminating distance and points of intersect between parallel lines connecting and overlapping lives, or the fundamental disparities in those that don’t.

But especially yours; with you I’m a voyeur. I have stolen into parts of your life so entirely removed from me as to make myself ridiculous, collected tidbits like so-many bottle caps and crumpled papers; water samples complete with Ph balance of your baser instincts and acid retorts. Cross sections of soil are selected and Nasca lines traced in order that I might quantify your words, your mind, your makeup. Every allusion to a wouldn’t-want-to-know becomes obsession as I try to catch you in a lie that I might begin to delineate your flaws, faults, and insecurities, jot down your secret thoughts and origins, separate the founding myth from the reality.

I’m convinced that the true “knowing” of someone comes primarily from a knowledge of that which they would hide. Tectonic plates and seismic shifts beneath a facade are revealed in high water marks and surface debris like silt collecting at the mouth of a river. Neurosis, triumphs, sorrows, and stories are traced like fault lines in hopes of understanding some secret divine order; it’s these hidden parts of us that make us who we truly are.

Or also, possibly, just because I’m nosy as fuck; I suppose in the end the results are the same.

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