The more things change the more they remain the same!
My life seems to have been hand-picked to test this theory. Here I have existed fashionable stagnate on this rock for one-hundred years -- new years, you would think I'd have matriculated just the slightest bit. If anything, I would unquestionably pronounce myself decaying as we speak. Twenty-second century medical technology is all I see between mortality and myself. You see, I've been physically preserved exceedingly well and it is the rest of what makes man human that is amiss about me.
Consider when I was a wee-pup, I had adoration for the seashore that was at once saucer-eyed and unconditionally, akin to the love an expectant mother feels for her yet tangible babe. I still enjoy the seashore to this day, though I have not set one foot into its sandy-bottom in over seven new decades. Apathy is the word to define my millennium. For I began it passively watching the world about me grow richer through change, all quickened by technologies producing robotics advanced a million times unimaginable the day prior, and, social conversions so radical that no green third party candidate would have ever even aspired to dream of it. I recall one morning, new decades ago, sitting riveted to my High-Definition monitor as the worlds first manned space mission to Mars rocketed off into the icy-black silence that is our universe, and again watching as the world hailed their return to earth un-aged and some two new generations later. Presently, I can access the galaxnet and hunt for midweeks excursion to our red-planet colonies if I wanted to, but I am not involved in trifles such as space exploration. I have not been involved with much of anything for quite some time. If life were a spectator sport I would be the number-one citizen of the New World without rival. In my late sixties, I successfully tuned a blind eye as my world neighbors participated in an historic first election for the presidency of the world. I being me, I mistakenly assumed nothing would change, and to the worlds credit some things haven't. Sixty-five new years of peace and prosperity for all and they still haven't committed the blunder of electing another male president.
Alas, for all the egoistic wrongs I have done I will grant myself this one thing, I do still get out and perform an invigorating exercise routine every morning. Yes even at my age I get out and run a briskly paced five to seven miles, most days ending up at Yesterdays Café. I have been a regular patron there for the better part of seventy of my new years. Yesterdays is really the only thing that I am quasi-religious about, primarily because of its premier location on a pristine, antique wooden pier that overlooks MS harbor, which I am fond of to some extent. Yesterdays is a definite rarity in today's version 5.0 society, where innovation is cutting-edge for only a nanosecond; it is a sort of uninspired throwback early 2000s diner. There are no ultra-cool effects enhancing the experience here, no new and exotic fat-free foods to be sampled; Yesterdays is a pre-New World, late American heart attack experience waiting to happen.
Though decidedly not avant-garde, Yesterdays has always been renowned for its seafood, which is fished and flown-in daily, and the star-lit rolling fog-enhanced romantic visions off the pier tempt lovers to leisurely walks. I used to take my wife to Yesterdays, yes my wife, back when we were courting. We were obliviously young, sweetly naíve, so when we would lounge comfortable in those plushy appointed old booths it would be hours before we realized how long we'd been there, dreaming of sailing the seven seas. My wife loved the sea, we both loved the sea, but my wife especially loved it. Those fantasizes were all so real and heartfelt for me, pretty soon I could almost taste the biting rum punch as it trickles off her lips.
My dear, dear wife, she starred in my visions of island bliss, where we are surrounded by this simmering blue translucent heaven. I can still clearly recall envisioning my dear wife, seeing her silhouette emerging through the haze of blazing mid-afternoons sun. With her hair pulled tightly back into my favorite style, she is wearing an eggshell flavored linen sun dress that perspiration has sensuous affixed to her thighs. My wife's face is aglow in the damply humid air and oceans spray as the luminous sun celebrates this day in my minds eye. Fine white sand seems bonded to her long toned legs and arms as if she had submerged herself in the beached powder, only recently crawling out. The stone whiteness mixes exotically with her shinny seal-colored skin, both working intensely to hypnotize me as she approaches my shaded beach chair. As she moves closer her image inexplicably begins to fade, eventually she appears at once in front of me, then she is gone.
Of course this was my subconscious playing a cruel trick on me in this moment, you see, for all the dreams my wife and I shared, we never traveled any of the seven seas. Nor did we ever discover an uncharted isle to call our own; in fact, just four short years past our wedded day my wife left me for an eerily proper English ferryboat captain sighting, "at least this chap is going places."
One hundred forty-three very long years and I tend to regret the majority of them. I was supposed to have done more with all of that time, yet it seems I am still searching to find myself, while never really determining when or where I became lost. Of my youth I can recall only grainy, black-and-white photos of people and places that have long been swept by-and-by in the winds of change. There are no concrete memories, only what's been put through the rinse of my mind, sanitized fluffed, then made to seem true. My earliest recollections are of times bloated constantly with timid starts, followed by awkward advances, laced with the hidden emotions of a soul, wary of rejections, both real and perceived.
In my late twenties I yearned for explanations when non-were forthcoming. In a start, I married too-young hoping to quell the ceaseless churning that defined the beast of yearnings in my belly. In the years that followed, my beasts cadence grew only more urgent and threatening to my false security until I withdrew into isolation, and in doing so I watched as shamed apathy eroded the relationship I could least afford to have stolen away from me. From divorce to here I have been but a joylessly cynical nomadic citizen of the New World, where no point is too steep, nor risk too high, and no reward is too grand. I wonder at modern ingenuity as the arch of our history continues to change so that nothing is the same as it was a mere ten years ago; but, Yesterdays never changes.
I sit in Yesterdays and I am transformed. Back is my original strength, and my few remaining convictions ripen, nurtured on lush green vines. I marvel at this particular young man between sips of my specially brewed old-world black coffee. This young man waits tables there and is more than likely a matriculating student, but he seems to have his life already together. Whereas, by the time I reached his age, I had long lost complete touch with all those who were dearest to me, his beloved seem always represented en mass. He is a great, gregarious young soul full of so much charm and wonderment, just the type of young man I now envision myself having been or being if I had the chance to trade in my one-hundred-year-old self and start anew. I am among the fortunate many who have had occasion to talk at length with this vibrant being, and he has always been gracious and hospitable towards me. Indeed, if I must say so, we are of first name basis in our conversations now, and he has become an endearing and empathetic audience for my life's trials. In a recent conversation I quipped how much I wanted to take a sea cruise, being I had not been on the ocean since I was a very young man, and he chided my flippancy concerning my longings. Shooting me his most rationally stern smile I took his meaning and carelessly retorted, "maybe tomorrow."
Hundreds of tomorrows have passed in my one-hundred new years, yet, I am still mourning, still languishing in a sacred period of unrequited love, reaching for those old friends and lost lovers who desperately escaped through my grasp like sand through an hourglass. I lie awake some nights waiting to be discovered, to have my intentions truly seen, only to drift slowly off hoping my spirits emancipation will come. Did they pray for me? Maybe tomorrow?
In this same conversation with the young man, Jim, I expressed my sincere wish to live this life again. To live and be one-hundred conscious, yet unconscious, days old. Conscious of, but unconscious to, the particular missteps and cowardice that permeates this life. I reported to Jim my longing for a second chance to get this life right, and not let four years of melancholy drive my beloved wife away then grow into a century of remoteness. I revealed how much witnessing my mother's withering slowly into nothingness, then dying before my eyes, worked to stunt my emotional growth. Leaving in its wake the jaded shell that is I. I watched pointedly as Jim took all I spoke in, and I could see him processing my disclosure as if his skull were transparent, allowing me to witness the snaps and hisses of the electrical impulses in his genetically souped-up brain. Jim turned to me almost clairvoyant, he put his soft compassionately warm hands on my shoulders and, rising from the table, he said "I will"; with that Jim gave me a wink as he turned and entered the New World again.
I never returned to Yesterdays Café after that day, and I have never had occasion to talk with Jim again because of that day. After I communicated the vital importance a second chance would be to me onto Jim, the waiter, who would blame him if he were more than a little weirded-out by the old (handsome) codger in booth number four. But Jim was much more than just a charming young waiter, Jim was highly evolved, because the children of the future are made of only the very best of humankind. Jim's compassion was more than real for me because he could feel my sentiment in his enlightened unconscious as I spoke the words. Jim and I were connected.
In my one-hundred years on this New World I have come to
know that anything is possible through our advancing knowledge and
technologies. Today, second chances are no longer the stuff of yarn
and fable, they are very much a reality in this future. One day,
eighteen short years ago, I came across an ad-seeking clients for a
study, and luckily this I did not leave for tomorrow. Through my
participation in this study I came to know the infant Jim and my
infatuation has intensify ever since. I knew that Jim, with age, would
gravitate to Yesterdays as sure as I know the noses I have for my
face, but there were something's that were unknown to me so it was
imperative that I talk with Jim myself. I could not, once again, leave
unknowns for tomorrow. I had to make certain Jim understood what
was at stake. As I said before Jim and I are connected; you see, from
that study came Jim. From the best of me came Jim, and Jim is the
living embodiment of the second chance I so sorely wanted. That
study I was involved in eighteen years ago was a study of genetic
cloning. Through that study I was given that second chance to live my
life over again, through Jim. Jim is the very best of me enhanced, he
is something I never left for those endless tomorrows, and in my
waning years, I am resigned to loving Jim from afar. Jim is all I ever
wanted to be, and knowing what he knows now I can at long last
finally rest. Who knows if I will ever see Jim again? Who knows?
© 2001 Yuseff Hilton, all rights reserved
appears here by permission