Me, Myself, and I
Written by: Frank Cormier
There was a burst of four knocks at the front door. How interesting that the person did not choose to ring the bell, I thought. I was not expecting anyone, especially at this hour of the day. It was ten in the morning on a Wednesday. Did I make an appointment that I forgot about, I wondered? Another set of four sharp raps at the door shook me from my stupor. Quietly I approached the door and did my best to sneak a peek at the uninvited guest (or guests?) through the semi-circle clear window panes atop the fiberglass insulated door with simulated wood grain exterior covers, which caused the knocks to sound a bit hollow.
When I first bought my condo, I had asked special permission from the Condo Association if I could replace the solid door with one that had some type of windows in it. I wanted the sunlight to shine through and brighten that area of my dwelling naturally. They actually had a choice of two doors that I could select from and the one I chose allowed for the most sunlight and the ability to see any callers through clear glass panes. The other door looked roughly the same except that it was adorned with frosted or pebbled glass. The forethought I had in choosing the clear glass panes was accidental; however, very handy at this moment.
I’m only five foot nine and can barely see out of the window while standing on my tip toes, so quietly as I could, I removed my Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary from the book shelf adjacent to the front entry way and placed it on the floor. The dictionary was about three inches thick and gave me just enough of a boost to see out of the window without being noticed. As I poked my head just above the bottom of the glass pane, there came another four hard knocks on the door. It startled me so much that I fell off the book and landed in a heap at the foot of door. My head bounced off of the door in a loud thump on the way down and I knew there was no way this uninvited guest (or guests?) would ever believe that no one was home.
I picked up the dictionary and held it in my right hand as I opened the door with my other hand, just in case I needed to toss it at the person if they were trying to break in. This would give me just enough time to slam the door shut if I caught them off guard. It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was one nonetheless. When did I become so paranoid, I thought as I partially opened the door? What I saw, or more precisely, who I saw caught me off guard so much so that I dropped the book on my bare foot. The person standing before me, was me! A future me. He looked about twenty to twenty-five years older than I am at present. But it was definitely me. I don’t know which was more shocking, the book falling on my foot (which did hurt!), or the fact that I was looking at myself? I had lifted my foot to rub it in hopes to quell the pain as I looked on in disbelief. I knew I wasn’t dreaming because my foot really hurt. “How can this be,” I asked aloud more to myself than to my future-self.
My future-self let out a stifled chuckle as he bent down to pick up the dictionary and asked if he could come in. “Um, sure,” I fumbled, “I guess so.” He thanked me as he walked past me with the book in hand. I took the book from him and placed it back in the bookcase and closed the door as he looked around my condo. “Nice place,” he offered. “Thanks,” was the only word that came from my mouth, as a million thoughts raced through my mind. He was now looking at the collection of pictures hanging on the wall and sitting on the fireplace mantle, picking one up from time to time and stroking others gently with his forefinger, a small smile played out across his face. “You’ve been living here just about a year, right,” he asked while handing me a picture of my parents. I told him he was correct and studied the picture. The picture was taken while we were on vacation at the Grand Canyon. My parents were standing by two pack mules that we rented to hike down to the bottom of the canyon. Each was wearing cheesy looking sombreros that they bought at the beginning of our trip in Mexico.
They both loved to laugh and to travel. I inherited the travel bug from them and was hardly ever at home, which is why I only ever bought condos. I didn’t want to have to worry about lawn care or other household projects that could be taken care of by the Condo Association for a small monthly fee. I relish my freedom and went to great lengths to ensure that I was financially stable enough to travel when and where I wanted to at any time without being encumbered by the day-to-day routines of being a homeowner. A sadness touched my heart while looking at the picture. This was the last trip we all took together. The picture was taken over seven years ago. It’s hard to believe that much time had already passed. “I bet that was a fun trip,” my future-self said as he took the picture from me and returned it to the mantle. How true I thought…
My future-self sat on one of the winged back mahogany leather chairs nearest to the fireplace and crossed his legs at the ankles. I guess old habits die hard as I took a seat on the brown leather couch across from him and sat the same way. We stared at each other for a moment before I asked the most obvious question and the one he was expecting about his presence in my life now. He deferred his answer by asking me how the single life was. That’s when it dawned on me that I had not taken the time to find another to share my life with. I am forty-two years old, single, never been married, and live alone. My parents had a great marriage and were best friends. I always wanted the same thing but was too busy building up my portfolio, traveling, and spending time with them that I neglected my own personal life. My mother would ask from time to time but never pushed the issue. Was he here to save me from that? Did he have some other message? My response was that it is fun, but in my mind knew it had grown old.
What kind of man had I turned into, I mused? When I was in my twenties after I finished college, I took off on a global adventure that started in London and ended in Hong Kong. The trip took seven months to complete as I stopped in Holland, Germany, Italy, France, Poland, and several former Eastern Bloc countries, before ending up in the Pacific rim. I stayed in hostels, or as a border in someone’s house for a few days, but mostly “roughed it” as the saying goes and slept outdoors and ate what I could gather on my own. This is what I thought it took to be a “man” and that I would return home as an adult man. I encountered much resistance upon my return home from so called friends, as they were “homebodies” that rarely ventured away from our home town. I didn’t feel like I fit in any longer and moved from one city to the next. First starting in Boston and made my way to New York City, then Chicago, Los Angeles next, Austin, Texas, and finally settling in Cleveland, Ohio; which is close to where I grew up and nearest to my parent’s home when they were alive. They died about five years ago and I’ve moved three times since then but always in the same general area.
I made my living on the stock market and setup shop wherever I could so long as I had a good Internet connection. I was fortunate in that I made some really good choices in the market after making several blunders when first learning how to day trade. My operation can almost run by itself with minimal interaction required on my part. The algorithm I created does most of the work for me and I basically monitor the results. I don’t talk with others about the source of my wealth and this has created limitations on my part as to whom I am willing to interact with, male or female. Guys were jealous of me because of my lifestyle and the women just seemed interested in my money. Suddenly I felt sad that I don’t have a woman in my life, but also don’t have any true friends either. My dream of a happy and loving marriage like my parents had appears to be slipping away. The next question I asked of my future-self was, “Am I happy?”
He laughed aloud when he heard the question and said look at him and decide for myself, “Do ‘you’ look happy?” At first blush I would have to say yes, but knew that wasn’t the reason why he was here. Maybe I’m not happy I started to think? But how could I be both happy and unhappy at the same time? He sensed my bewilderment and offered that happiness comes from within: a cliché I have heard over and over in my life, this being no different than any of those other times as it still didn’t answer my question. I walked to the kitchen and got two glasses down from the cabinet. I started to pour unsweetened ice tea over the automatically produced, singular in size and shape ice cubes. I espied a framed picture of me sitting on the counter. In the photo I am squatting on a precipice overlooking the Grand Canyon and not smiling. My mind raced back to that moment to analyze why no smile? It was only about a year ago and I know I wasn’t tired or bored. It’s funny how sometimes you can remember where you are in a picture but you can’t remember your mood or thoughts. That’s one of the prevalent frailties of being human. We tend to forget more than we ever remember…
He accepted the iced tea and drank with fervor. Half the glass was finished before I sat back down. I asked if he remembered that trip and said that his mind was not as sharp as it was once before, a byproduct of aging, and did not have even a vague recollection. Hearing him say that deflated my mood somewhat more. The human mind is a lot like a library; there are plenty of volumes of books/memories, but most times we haven’t a clue what is in each one and at best can only recall bits and pieces, enough to cajole a happy or sad thought or two. Most often we’ll not even see the book or if we do, cannot recall what the contents are or the story line. Unlike the library, we can’t reach into our mind and scan the book to refresh our memory, even a memory from only a year ago preserved forever in a photograph. It’s no wonder that humans go to war with each other. They can’t seem to remember the lessons or atrocities from one war to the next. And if someone does remember, who would be interested in listening? My life isn’t a war, however, it seems that I am not remembering a lesson from my past that my future-self is trying to warn me about in the present. Well at least that is what I think he is doing? “Let me cut to the chase,” I proffered. “You are here to warn me about my, well, our future?”
Holding the empty glass up to a narrow band of sun light streaming through the front window, he filtered it through the remaining ice cubes, then rotated it such that small rainbows appeared then disappeared on the white Berber rug at his feet, and remained silent. He stayed quiet for what seemed an hour but in actuality was about two minutes, then placed the glass on one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame coasters on the coffee table. “I’m not here to warn you about anything,” he responded more to his feet, since that was where he was now looking, than to me directly. I waited to see if he was going to say anything more, instead he continued to look at his feet. So I started to look at my own feet, and that’s when it hit me: his feet, my feet! Neither of us was wearing shoes or socks! Him dressed in a dark blue sport coat, white button down shirt, and tan khaki trousers being held up by a light brown web belt, and me dressed in a light blue collared golf shirt and dark blue cargo style shorts held up by a black leather belt; both of us bare foot. “What is the significance of our bare feet,” I asked partially knowing the answer and looking for affirmation of my suspicion.
“The Universe is not as big and infinite as our human minds lead us to believe,” he started to explain in lieu of a direct answer. “And there really is no such thing as time.” He went on further to explain how the past, present, and the future all happen simultaneously, as does the “many worlds” theory ring true. Every conceivable “state of our being” is happening at this moment, sort of like a holograph: no matter what angle you look at yourself from and regardless of the number of projections, the essence of your true self can always be seen. In one of those worlds I am happily married with children, while at the same time in a different one, suffering from war wounds on an active battle field slowly bleeding out. In yet a different set of worlds I am female living out as many multiple scenarios as could possibly be thought of. He explained that “gender” as it is called in this world, has limited meaning in the Universe. It is truly our essence that counts for anything.
At some point all of those worlds will cease to exist, and will do so at preciously the same moment. For what is measured as an hour here, could last for a year or longer, or for only a few seconds in other worlds using the same timescale of this world. Just as the Universe “popped” into existence from nothing, so did we. And our departure from this existence will return to nothing; the same as the Universe. All possible worlds will come together in what is known as convergence and when that happens, the energy from each will combine to cancel one another. The equation is balanced and there is no remainder. It is the most beautiful and elegant of all equations ever formulated. “The man you called Einstein in this world would have been pleased with it,” he postulated as he reached for my hand. As I suspected, that moment was now.
Copyright (C) by Frank Cormier 2016. All rights reserved.