Through the windshield in front of us the sky was a muddy orange of reflected city lights on the ever-growing accumulation of snow. Driving within the well worn ruts in the snow watching a Florida license plate timidly try to find its footing in conditions foreign to a southern climate. Smirks grew on our faces.
Lining the increasingly hidden highway were tall corporate flagships with neon-lighted northern stars. I began to count how many were on the passenger side when I realized I had no idea what many of these entities consisted of or involved themselves with. For all I knew, each building could be in the same industry as the other, and competing for the same 35-50 business-class-paper-shredding-demographic.
-Do you think this corporate age is ever going to slow down? Or even end?
-Definitely. Our whole western way of living will end one day. It’s inevitable.
-It’s not sustainable is it?
-Do you ever wonder what it will be like when it’s over?
-I imagine there will be a lot of starvation.
-Yea. Another depression. I think it will be a very chaotic period of time.
I silently meditated on what this might look like. Part of me longed to see the whole system overhauled – to live in a broken society that was at least self-aware and wanting to make another go at it; I was tired of too many cultural norms that didn’t fit. I wanted it and was scared of the consequences. I was afraid of the limitless depths of chaos we were all capable of.
This fear brought me back to my driving companion. These conversations weren’t abnormal with us – rather, common fare when we were given open stretches of silence upon which to discuss the things which differentiated us from so many of our close ones. Rarely did I find our conversations stagnant, even when we talked about nothing of real importance. So when fear crept into my imagination I moved closer to the one I felt safer with. If the world as we knew it was going to change drastically, I wanted her to be with me when it happened. It wasn’t a response to fear, but a further nudge to the longing that had surfaced and been repressed for the previous year.
Further along the highway I saw three enormous apartment buildings out my window that always reminded me of the empire state building. (They were fashioned as such). I immediately saw into their futures – abandoned and dilapidated. Perhaps a fire emerging from different apartments on different sides. The billowing black one of many funeral pyres. I knew this would be an image that I kept close as I wrote this story.
This story has been growing for the past three years from one mental image, continually refined, and will continue to grow until it is finished. For years I had avoided writing it because to do so would be to submerge myself into the painful circumstances that birthed the whole story. I was going to write of my first lost love. I still am, even though it is more past than present. I thought that this story would be about her.
Driving down the 401 in a snowstorm I asked if the current age would burst. It was this moment that made me realize I was not longer writing this book for my lost love. I was writing this book for the one sitting beside me in the car, driving us home from a wedding.