“Do you want to hear about a theory?”
Jacques Lacan had this idea about the Ego, Id and Self. His thing was, that when you’re a baby, you’re in this place called the Id where you can’t discern one thing from another; you don’t know what you are in relation to the world. There comes a time when none of us can ever go back to that place, and that’s the first time that we look into a mirror. We move our arm and our reflection does the same; we are fascinated by the thing looking back at us. This is our first disconnect and where our Ego forms. We come to understand that we are a Self, something completely separate from the worldly objects around us.
There’s a theory I recently read about the Self: when you’re with your significant other or someone you feel close with, we lose our sense of Other and our sense of Self. What I’m saying is that maybe that’s what we feel when we “lose ourselves” with someone, I guess.
She took a step towards the mirror and noticed the marks. Didn’t think much about them until later in the day; it was her first time.
After dinner was utter dread. A tight knot that would only tangle further as time went on. She scooted away and his body tensed. “I’ve been thinking about us a lot.”
She recognized the knowing glint in his eyes. He remained quiet, waiting. The music stopped, forcibly plugged out. The previous rising smoke, escapes of laughter and story-telling quickly sealed. Her cold fingers anxious on the lid; he saw her grip, anticipated. A baby possum appeared between the dark bushes and crawled its way underneath the porch. She inappropriately called their attention to the “cute possum” in the midst of his ordeal.
All the time she nervously played with her hands. I’m not him. “I’m sorry.” I’m not him, I’m not him, she kept repeating to herself. Yet she found herself sometimes phrasing words almost exactly as he did, carefully tiptoeing, faltering. A valuable vase they both wanted to catch without breaking, without having to see it shatter but already tipped from its pedestal. I’m not him. Eye contact felt uncomfortable. She looked to her hands, to the old wood floor covered in mushed blueberries, his gaze that engrained itself into her mind. She wanted to reach out but couldn’t; she felt like a murderer without intent. He looked off into the distance, wrapped deep in his own thoughts. In his own world, and she searched for words but
“You can leave if you want.” She wasn’t sure what to say. “I’ll be alright.” They both looked for words in between the spaces.
“Okay.” She awkwardly stood up, awkwardly knocking over a green beer bottle. “Fuck,” she muttered and quickly propped the glass against a chair. She felt him look at her back, then the gaze shifting to his intertwined hands. She didn’t look back to see if he would look at her again. Steps on gravel, pavement then the slam of a car door.
Started the ignition and drove. She rolled the windows down all the way. On the highway the air felt harsh and cold, unrelenting. The haunting remain of a harvest moon hung straight ahead, its shocking beauty rendered her speechless. At one point she didn’t know where she was, the road completely dark except for the car headlights. Unreadable green signs sped by, no cars on the other side. This type of darkness was different; it was frightening. She impatiently tapped the steering wheel with her fingers, fingernails digging into the soft padding. I’m not him, she reminded herself.
She purposefully sought familiar places, a cowardly withdraw to comfort. She pulled up by her middle school. It’s been at least a decade, she thought. She slowly scanned the fence, studied the large lawn marked in white paint. Remembered what it looked like in the daytime in its white, orange and yellow hues. Bland uniforms and childish gimmicks. The same house on the corner of the intersection with the shabby backyard, its driveway full of cars. There was a neon tower, sculptures of new light and unfamiliar store names.
Home again. Her hand clutched on the yellow bag, beginning to show signs of wear. She stopped dead in her trail before her apartment and looked up at the clear, dark blue sky. Some stars pulsed with a wavering glow, unchanging and acquainted. She thought about how humans would witness the death of a star millions of years after its actual death.