On my living room bookshelf there are two little stacks of DVDs that I borrowed from two different friends about 5 years ago. I walk by them every day, and I notice and think about them every couple of days. They remain there, in their same little stacks. Every time I think about them–probably hundreds of times now–a combination of logistical anxiety and accumulated shame–for the lateness, of course, but even more for the crime of never having watched them–win out over any intention of returning them. It feels like an impossible task, like it’s the kind of act meant for someone far above my station. I’m the guy who loses things I borrow from my friends. I don’t have the dignity to be anything else.
In these small stacks of DVDs, there is so much to understand about me. The weight that such stupid little social shit has, and the ways that I freeze. And freeze. And freeze for years. Until the smallest in-actions begin to form into a life that is, quite unintentionally, viciously anti-social. Like slow drips that develop into stalagmites and stalactites, a sharp, more permanent form emerges.
Perhaps even more curious is that for me, as a writer who sometimes tries to describe fictional characters, it feels so distant, so difficult, to imagine a person who could have an easy time returning those things. Could it really be so easy? Something that, for me, is like the plodding social navigation of a monstrous and archaic tanker could be, for someone else, like a zippy summer jet-ski trip? Who could possibly not be tormented?
And so the day that these DVDs get returned? Surely it will be the sign of a much more profound rising.