Vacancies and Other Celestial Ponderings

This article was originally published in the 4th Issue of Bluestockings Magazine.

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Vacancies and Other Celestial Ponderings

There is a difference between bodies. There is a change or a divergence. Math had always made me feel helplessly insufficient. I found it too inaccessible. It seemed like a mysterious mystical way to find the difference between two states of being.

A Brief Explanation for the Relevancy of Blonde Hair: My hair used to be a true honey blonde when we were young. When I first sensed your crush. I recall that in middle school all of the cool girls got their hair highlighted and bleached blonde, painting warm summer evenings, two pieced string bikinis that never fit, lip smackers cherry vanilla chapstick, and boys boys boys into their hair. IMPOSTER, I thought. Their hair is darker than mine, which was now a dirty blonde. Your hair is plain and girl-like. It is sandy knees and lunch packed by mom. Your hair is hands dug deep into the dewy grass and into the clay that stretches across each suburban yard. Your hair is legs locked together like two wooden chopsticks before the waiter snaps them apart, and rubs them together, shedding off the tiny splinters that cling to the sides.

Then my hair turned brown and curly. I recently decided, however, that I should have blonde hair again. First it was rusty orange, then a lemon yellow, and then even paler. Now it is a silvery white. Two hundred dollars later, I feel sick. I feel as if I have betrayed my thirteen-year-old self. For the following two weeks after I bleached my hair, I could smell the sweet burning scent of peroxide in the thick s t e a m  o f  t h e s h o w e r. Small molecules of water adhering to the glass shower door in a way that I could see my own faint distorted reflection in the damp sheen. I feared the peroxide would collect on my skin and strip it of its natural pigments.

The window has a shimmery smear of condensation in the upper right hand corner, looking out on the space between two buildings. Wasted space. Each droplet glows like a gemstone adhered to the glass. It’s a picture instead of a change of the physical state of gas to liquid. There is a warm breath that must be clouding the window, or maybe the collective breath of the entire room clouds the space in between two buildings.

The dictionary states that, “condensation commonly occurs when a vapor is cooled and/or compressed to its saturation limit when the molecular density in the gas phase reaches its maximal threshold.” This is interesting because I am fairly certain my breath on your forearm did the same. I tried not to kiss you because you did not want me to, but I was actually pressed so closely against you that I couldn’t move my head, my silvery blonde strands brushing your chin. No longer appealing. I was positioned in such a way that I had slipped in between that space. Lips against your skin, I breathed the condensation.

“Outer space, or simply space, is the void that exists between celestial bodies…It is not completely empty, but consists of a vacuum owing to the low density of particles.” When we were young we used to play a game. I would clench my hands into two fists and line them up side by side. Next I would press them together as hard and as firmly as I could and you would count for sixty seconds. After the time was up I would slowly drag my fists away from each other. It felt as if they were latched together by some phantom celestial force outside of my body. I felt this way. By separating into a space we could form some impossible void that, owing to a tired vacancy, would snap us back together with even more force. You can also play this game in reverse. Have your friend clamp your two hands together, and then try to pry them apart for sixty seconds. When your friend releases your hands the opposite will happen. Your fists feel like two giant wrong-sided magnets. It will feel like the two poles of the earth, or the gravi- tational pull of the moon, or the centrifugal spin of the planet is pulling you apart. It will feel as if you cannot bring these two bodies back together.

“Syzygy” is the only word in the English language with three y’s. There are several definitions:

1. The conjunction of two organisms without loss of identity. The separation between the organisms might be imperceptible. Any one of the segments of an arm composed of two joints so closely united that the line of union is obliterated on the outer, though visible on the inner, side.

I find the italicized part to be particularly interesting. It suggests that the seam between individual organisms can be invisible externally. But if you were to turn us inside out we would be composed of an infinite amount of fissures and divides belying our continuity.

2. Conjunction and opposition of two heavenly bodies, or either of the points at which these take place, especially in the case of the moon with the sun (new and full moon).

Similarly, this suggests that there will always be a reverse and opposing force to a union between two separate things. Two separate bodies.

If two bodies are nearly inseparable; if there exists a vacuum between the wasted space; if they are woven together by the fleeting existence of trans- parent skin and rigid bone; if they exist in relation to each other by means of incremental change…then draw me this line of separation.

I have been told before that I lack sufficient boundaries, that I cannot tell where I end and where someone else begins. I have been reminded that we do not partake in the same icy deep spring of thoughts buried beneath the earth from which I extract and construct my conscious self. But perhaps we all lack these boundaries; some of us are just more interested in the bodily vessel and that fallible space in between than others.

You think that I cannot possibly understand this space because we have not shared all experiences. But I know the feeling of claustrophobia.

We are these creatures dressed in clothing. You are a strange body.

A simple reordering of a phrase can create a chasm between two people. I overheard a conversation between two people about the phrase “I love you, but” and “but, I love you.” That simple conjunction, that three letter word can dissolve the earth between two people. Neither means I love you. One is a revision and the other is a plea. How can a three-letter word move bodies?

Two years before, you exhaled the stars into the hollow of the night. They were not beautiful or sparkling or existential or older than the earth. They were just a sign that you were still breathing, clouding the navy dome of the sky with your magnetic glowing sadness. I wish I could say that I saw this, unfurling outside on the lawn in front of the lazy housing complex, curled against the humming rasping soil. Instead it was viewed from the narrow skylight in the ceiling of your bedroom, with worn white sheets so tight that we were bound together. I stayed, not because I could not extricate myself from the small space left between two unmoving bodies. I stayed because I feared that if I left, the stars would be extinguished. I feared that if I left, you would gasp the night sky right back into your trembling lungs and I would be left with no stars to guide me back out of that empty house. I know I left, but I do not recall how.

To the blonde haired girl: did you emerge gasping for air, breathing in but never breathing out? Did you rake your hands, clawed hands, through the stagnant space, piercing the circles and circles: lashing through into the night?
blonde blonde blonde blonde You can’t see blonde in the dark.

We stuck our hands into the stainless steel industrial dishwashing station. I wanted to take each of your hands in mine and then pin them to your sides. I wanted to yank your small frame onto the floor and stack on top of you, the heaviness of the stars and the moon, beneath the bitter well of thoughts that are carefully stored in boxes in my base- ment. Lie face down on the ground. I want to see the rise and fall from above this time, from my towheaded perch. I would stay to give you company, but only until I could dispose of the tangled trail of space that hovers between us, only until I could dispose of that part of my self. There is a space between two solid buildings where time condenses. A separation. A sliver of vacancy. Yet, on more than one occasion, I have wondered if you and I are not the same person. Perhaps the body is nothing more or less than a fleshy frame or a feeble static boundary that lies in between everything else.

By Emma Ruddock, Contributor Edited by Melanie Abeygunawardana Image contributed by Emma Ruddock

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