The first move

whirr

place

click

whirr

a short moment of spinning up, then the music began

She always liked this particular moment the most. The brief, brief second of having put a CD in the tray and pushing it in, hearing those first introductory notes. Each album had different starting points, different feels, and she knew them all by heart. Even the one with an extra moment of silence introduced by accident; its duration as intimately known as any combination of sounds

Of course, explaining this to the young ones was a futile effort. But every once in a while, she made an attempt. Like now

In the name of the moon

“I see right through you”

“Now there is an ominous conversation starter if there ever was one”

“Your 90s retro party. It’s not actually about the 90s. It is all about recreating the normcore fashion on display in Sailor Moon”

“Yeap”

“What I do not understand is, why the pretense? Why not simply come out and say it’s Sailor Moon themed?”

“See, I’m in this strange generational middle position. On the one hand, this is the stuff we’re made of. On the other hand, we’re still honor-bound never to admit it in public”

“…like Sailor Moon?”

“Right on”

A messianic moment

He blanked. He knew, from somewhere, that you were supposed to think big thoughts at moments like this. Big, life-defining things that would resound throughout the years, to the point where you’d tell the grandkids “and at that moment, I knew”. Maybe something about messianic time. That sounded appropriate. But he had conceptual difficulties. Nothing came to mind. It was all a big blur of impressions, emotions and half-finished fragments. A muddle. All familiar, all anticipated, but also all extraordinarily ordinary

And then it came, the question

“Do you take this woman to be your lawful”

Now, at least, he knew what to say

One of the smaller moods

“What are you thinking about?”

“This song. It takes me back to a mood I used to be in as a kid”

“Is it a good mood?”

“I don’t know. Mostly, it’s just familiar. I remember doing things while feeling like this. Some were good, some bad, some were just, you know, life. Walking to school, sneaking to the store on the way home, rustling leaves. Nothing big, but I was there, you know? It was me, in this mood”

“Sounds nice”

“I’m going to sit with it for a while”

“Tell me the good parts later”

Combo breaker

It was a Taco Bell. It looked just as you would expect, deliberately identical to the vast numbers of other Bells out there. The food, too, had that distinct quality of sameness. Everything was a blur of similarity, neither here nor there, flowing together into a vast undifferentiated blob of unity that hampered any further attempt at thinking things through

But then, outside: the ocean

The sudden shift from one kind of overwhelming totality to another was almost too much to bear. But, in all this, one key difference snuck in, clearing up the confusion:

The ocean tasted better

Reading the signs

“Are you breaking up with me?”

“Yes”

“But why?”

“You’ve read Foucault. There is nothing I could tell you that would be news to you”

“I do not understand”

“That’s the point. You’ve written about it at extended length and in considerable detail, yet you still end up acting the way you do. It’s as if the theory is all there, but you lack all will to actually use it”

“But”

“No buts. The circumstances allowing for such speech acts have long passed. I just wanted you to know, and why. I hope your next article turns out well”

Muscle memory

“It’s like riding a bike”

“In that you never really forget how to do it, and can pick it up years and years later?”

“Yes. But that’s only part of the story. See, your body remembers riding bikes, but it also remembers doing it with a different set of muscles than you have now. So you act on your memories and assume things that are not there, and end up doing things you’d rather not do”

“Huh. I guess I never thought about it that way”

“No worries. Let’s take it easy this first time, to get up to speed”