It All Means Nothing

Where you are supposed to be is standing still. You are riding an elevator down to Earth and you have had too much to drink. You know the ride takes 90 seconds so you subject your friends to 90 seconds of your dancing the robot. You are not very good at dancing the robot.

~~~

Flash back to the moment you gave up. You took the dull pair of office scissors that were in the desk in your childhood bedroom for as long as you can remember and you cut your hair until there was nothing left. Your mother is screaming. You are screaming.

You walk into class the next day and everyone knows that everything has changed but not a single person asks. You remain angry about this moment. You bury the anger so deep that you forget about it entirely.

Sorry mom, sorry God.

~~~

Jump back to early 2008 and you learn that Chuck Palahniuk wrote a book about transsexuals called Invisible Monsters. You read it in a single night. Every time the story takes a huge turn your mind is ripped open. By the time you put down the book you cannot sleep, your mind is working so fast. You do not understand what it means. Only later you realize it all means nothing.

~~~

Fast foward to Fall and you visit Seattle for the first time. The weather is clear and the city is clean. You go to the Space Needle because you have to.

If there is a single thing you have taken away from Invisible Monsters it is the scene where the three characters visit the Space Needle, the promise of the future that never was.

While standing at the top of the Space Needle, they write down wisdom onto Space Needle postcards and let them go into the breeze. They send postcards from the future back to the past they left behind. The image is so pure and beautiful that you have to go and do it.

The gift shop is not at the top of the Space Needle like it says in the book, so you sit and just gaze out at the city and the ocean. You feel at peace.

~~~

Jump back to the summer before, when you decide to read every other Palahniuk book before summer's end. You start with Survivor, which you hate but refuse to admit to yourself. Next you read Choke, which you like enough. Then Lullabye, which you find dumb, and Diary which you find even dumber.

Every book follows the same formula, it is no longer a mystery what the surprise twist will be. You try reading Haunted but realize you do not even want to bother. You give up.

You still love Invisible Monsters, it still means something to you.

~~~

This time you knew what you were doing. You told your friends to read Invisible Monsters, that it would be important, but they have not. It does not matter.

This time you know to go into the gift shop first to buy postcards before ascending. On the way up the tour guide tells you that it takes 90 seconds to get to the top of the Space Needle. You remember this from the last time you were here.

It is night time and the view is even more beautiful at night. You hand your postcards to your friends but they have no idea what you are talking about. The friend who actually read the book refuses to believe you are going to do it. You are sick of his ironic detachment. Yes, you are going to write a message on a postcard and drop it off the edge. Why else would you be there?

Giving up, you write as many messages as you can think of and release them to the winds. Your life might be comprised of beautiful moments, but this not one of them.

~~~

Where you are supposed to be is at home, sitting in your childhood bedroom. Instead you are walking up Janesville Road. It is the night before Christmas Eve and the anger toward your mother you have been holding inside for years has finally resurfaced. You are walking because it is all you can do and you cannot stand to do anything else. You are walking the streets of this city you came from and you realize something.

The town has no sidewalks.
The town is too small to have sidewalks.
The town is too fucking small to have sidewalks.
The town is still too fucking small to have sidewalks.

You decide you are never coming back here again.

~~~

Jump to the spring of the fall and you learn that Palahniuk has released a "remix" of Invisible Monsters. You think this is a horrible idea but morbid curiosity gets the best of you.

Jump to you reading the introduction where Palahniuk literally writes "You young people, you who think you invented fun and drugs and good times, fuck you" and you want to put the book down in disgust.

Jump to the new chapters which are all just anecdotes from Palahniuk's life and you could not give a shit.

Jump to realizing what the themes of the book really are, and how disgusted you are with them.

~~~

Jump to right now when I am writing this essay. When I started I was not sure what it was going to be about, other than my history with this book, but I understand now. While I do not agree with its message, I understand that Invisible Monsters came to me at a time when I needed it to grow, and I am thankful it was there for me.

And despite the bitter message, I am sure I will continue to send postcards from the future any time I have the chance. For the me that is still waiting in the past.