I’ve recently become partial to fallibilism, the philosophical principle that human beings could be wrong about their beliefs or their understanding of the world, because although we can assume things as knowledge based on experience and expectation, no knowledge can ever be rationally supported or justified in a conclusive way as truth. While it can be a cynical ultimatum, it doesn’t mean that I don’t believe or hope in anything, it just means that I’ve come to accept that whatever I believe or hope in, isn’t necessarily a truth. And for once in my life, I’m okay with that.
I’ve come to this conclusion after an objective exploration of Buddhism, Protestantism, Existentialism, and Scientific Methodology, all in that order. The commonality in all four, is the reoccurrence of slight changes in interpretation and meaning based on time and context, which in essence changes their entire philosophy, no longer making it any sort of constant or established truth— because people are too stubborn to accept anything the way it is; because everything in some way has to mean something specific and personal to someone, in order to be regarded as truth or profound.
And instead of becoming a pluralist and just embracing the good in all these beliefs like the majority of my peers, (generated and influenced by the universalist-clusterfuck of “post-post-modern” thought) I realized the futility and blatant lack of tenacity in the idea of faith and the “margin of error” that these philosophies require. And if these widely acknowledged, established ideas of truth cannot rationally justify or support themselves except through the necessary acquiring of “faith” or embracing “the margin of error”, then I unabashedly account my fallibilism to my lack of persistence in figuring out what truth is as well. I am not abandoning every theory as false; I just believe that there is the possibility, that we could all be wrong about everything.
I live in a dangerously obscure town in the middle of nowhere. I say the middle of nowhere, because it doesn’t really matter where I’m from, but it should be known that where ever this is, it is as insignificant and generic as the phrase, “the middle of nowhere” sounds. Nothing ever happens or changes here, except for at the local diner which collapses every year on the account of it being built lopsided in 1950. Nevertheless, each year, it is rebuilt once again, only to be more lopsided than the previous year, needing constant rearrangement to keep it running. In this boredom-ridden place, smart boys and girls waste away, mindlessly filing papers in underground offices, dreaming of nothing other than what they might eat for dinner, because ambition is an unspoken word, a forgotten term, an ancient curse upon anyone who may have pursued it in the foggy past. Good music is spent in lonesome department stores, where lonesome, middle aged women come to shop, perhaps to temporarily whisk away the void they feel from growing up in this lonesome town- God knows.
I wasn’t born here, but unfortunately it is all I know. I was kidnapped at the age of two, before any cognitive memory, by my own parents. They vowed to plot revenge against a faulty birth control company, by planning to raise the most fucked up human being in history of planet earth. Consequently, I have only ever loved two things in my life, both of which I have lost along the course of my adolescence. The first is my copy of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke, and the second, a boy called Crook- hilarious, really. The copy of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding was given to me by my grandfather, long gone, when I was twelve years old. I have read it every year since, although to this day, it is everything but something I understand. Regardless, it was something I treasured dearly and I believe I may have placed it in a location that just happened to simultaneously be a wormhole. I wish the same thing had occurred with Crook, but occasionally I like to be realistic and masochistic and remind myself that that was not the case. After three affection-filled years, he told me, between bites of a breakfast burrito, that he had fallen out of love with me- as if it were that simple; as if love were a place or an object that you could accidentally stumble out of! As if I were to understand it, just as it was said.
The universe is a rotten place with too many wormholes in all the wrong locations and not enough wormholes in the right ones. For that reason, you must always be wary of where you choose to sit or place things. I always pluck a hair from my head and let it drop first, to see if it might disappear to another spot in the milky way, before I sit someplace new. It’s a worthy habit- you wouldn’t want to lose a possession or yourself in this vast universe.
For the longest time, the closeness of our neighbors bothered me. I was a twenty year old introvert living with my parents and the thing I regarded with utmost importance (after splitting doubt and self-defense mechanisms) was privacy. That is, until I realized the comfort in knowing that at least someone out there knew the mundane routines that make up my life.
Our neighbors were our agnostic gods, doubling as our best friends, a bit removed. They knew every detail of our lives. They had no choice but to know; our walls were so thin and our windows, always open. They knew when we laughed, when we cried, when we messed up making dinner, or argued over the money we didn’t have. They knew when we were in love or when we were falling out of it. They knew when we woke up in the mornings and even the sounds of our alarm clocks. They knew us intimately in the way that they could smell us, see us, hear us, touch us (during good morning handshakes) and taste us (if we were feeling particularly lustful).
It’s a bit funny because despite all the various personalities and preferences that individuals have, as human beings with the innate tendency to commune, we just want someone to know everything about us. We want them to ask us what we’re up to, who we’re with, what we’re thinking; as if knowing this just to ourselves isn’t enough to serve as purposeful or meaningful in our lives. If we are the only ones who know something or experience something, it would only exist within us and only to us, but when it is shared, or when it is known by others, it is an affirmation of its existence in a wider context. It is an affirmation of our capacity and capability to think, and feel, and engage- an affirmation of our existence to the world.
I gave up on the idea of unconditional love when I was thirteen years old. I was caught shoplifting a deck of cards from a local convenience store. I was escorted home by a cop, which I now realize was completely unnecessary— I was only thirteen years old and I stole a deck of fucking ninety-nine cent playing cards. But regardless, after the cop told my mother the details of the incident, she slapped me hard across the face with an unfamiliar look of wrath in her eyes and sent me to my room. I remained absolutely still in gaping shock before making sense of what had just happened. I ran to my room, slammed the door and laid prostrate on my bed in utter tears, hoping I would eventually fall asleep and die either from drowning or suffocation.
Later that night, my mother knocked gently on my door. I feigned sleep and remained unresponsive. Part of me hoped that she would think I really was dead and break into heart-wrenching sobs, overcome with guilt and regretting the very thought of raising her hand. I thought, maybe if I were dead, I could finally see that she actually cared. I was a highly sensitive, melodramatic kid. But instead, she came in and left a plate of apple pie on my nightstand.
In retrospect, I understand that this was her form of apology, her way of saying, “let’s move on from this day”. But that night, ten years ago, without the palpable affection and apology that I desperately longed for, I cursed love and gave up on it altogether. I picked up the plate of apple pie and smashed it against the wall, yelling, “FUCK PIE!” I was so angry, I couldn’t think of anything else to say, but at the time, I felt justified. From that moment on, I approached any close encounters of love with armed skepticism and bitter defense. Every short-lived relationship, lined with hormonal infatuation was just another experience to add to my increasing doubt and misery.
She left as quickly as she came.
I first saw Easy on a particularly chilly October afternoon, three years ago. She was walking into the house next to mine with a box in hand. That house had only been empty for a week before she moved in. I was surprised at how quickly it sold and I felt sorry for my unsuspecting new neighbor. Despite the weather, she was wearing a white shirt that showed off her back and the black push up bra she was wearing under it. I couldn’t tell if she was wearing shorts or not, they were so short. I could however, see the garter belt hanging down her skinny thighs, and I remember whispering unconsciously, “I never knew girls actually wear those things”. She had long, dark hair and she pushed it behind her ears with both hands to look at me and smile, before strutting into the house with the utter sexuality of a hundred porn stars, all while being innocuously barefoot and adorned with a bow in her hair. She looked about my age, about twenty years old, though she was one of those girls you just couldn’t be sure of. She looked like she could be eighteen, but by the way she dressed and walked with seasoned ease, she looked twenty-five.
Over the course of the week, everyone was passive-aggressively curious about our pretty, new neighbor and her mysterious male roommate. They leaned out their windows or slumped around on their porches to watch her bring boxes into the house one by one. They stared in wide-eyed attention, as if it were the best television series they had ever laid their uncultured eyes on. I shook my head in disgust, but I was secretly envious of the attention she was receiving. But then again, she was quite a sight. I caught glimpses of her outside when I came home from working at the godforsaken lopsided diner, half-bitter at the fact that it hadn’t collapsed with me in it yet. It wasn’t until I realized that I could partly see into her room from mine, that my curiosity grew.
At first, I tried not to look. My curiosity had to be an un-welcomed and intrusive manifestation of my boredom and even if we are all guilty of harmless eavesdropping and benign tom-peepery, I didn’t want to be like the rest of my neighborhood. I wanted to feel sane. I wanted to feel careless and busy enough, where details of other people’s lives were overlooked and irrelevant to me.
But how could I not be intrigued? I don’t know how to justly describe her. She was a fucking bombshell in a sea of nobodies and nobody knew where she came from. I was cleaning up a pile of papers in my room when I saw her in hers, slouched against her window in a see-through top, smoking a joint and singing to herself. I actually caught myself staring, that’s how long I had been staring. I mentally traced every part of her face— her skin pulled delicately over her cheekbones and jaw. The top of her lips met in the most persuasive archer’s bow, leading you, lock-eyed and anxious to the grooved, perfect pout on her lower lip. God was unfair. Her eyes were large and had an indefinite sternness to them; rimmed by a million lashes aligned in the most remarkable curve. They were piercing to an uncomfortable degree, until the corners of her lips whisked upward, bringing those eyes into two half moons of absolute pleasantness and softness, pinning her eyelashes to the the top most mesa of her cheekbones. She smiled at me. All of my meticulous observations, which had started stringing into their own little fantasies, scurried at the realization of her awareness. Embarrassment rose with swiftness, painting my cheeks to the top of my scalp in inner heat. My eyes fleeted downward and I quickly turned my gaze to the unruly sheets, lackadaisically spilling off the side of my bed. That’s when I saw her move from the corner of my eye. I looked up carefully, trying my best to feign carelessness and cool—-as if seeing her was like seeing dust settle on the window pane. She lifted her hand almost timidly, cocked her head in the slightest to her left, and curled her fingers toward her. Was she motioning me to come closer? I moved closer. She opened her window a little wider and put her elbows on the sill. She smiled again. Come over. I had lost all cognition. I thought I was imagining it. Her voice broke my reverie. Hey, my name’s Easy. Come over.
I walked out of my room, questioned myself, shrugged it off, then walked out the door. This must be leading me to a wormhole,I thought, as I made my way down my steps. Before I reached her porch, she was already standing in doorway, framed by the darkness inside her house and the white paint of the doorway beams.
In the minute that I realized she had seduced me, I was already falling fast through the wormhole that had been deceitfully (and so, so wonderfully) set. Seduction was a designed sort of deconstruction, a nimble-minded trick to make me lose sight of even my deepest rooted routine. And I remember thinking, how could I forget? I had put forth such an effort to etch that movement of raising my hand, plucking a hair, and seeing it drop, to keep myself safe, so that my actions could not be breached.
And this is why nothing in this universe can be trusted. Because even your mind, a place that cannot be tangibly reached, can be tainted by the smallest trigger of desire.
And in that moment- the fall through a wormhole, which I had spent my entire life dreading, fear, an unfathomable notion, suddenly became a dull understood. What filled me instead, was an odd upheaval of curiosity and excitement. I wasn’t getting lost in the universe; I was merely heading to a new destination.
It was as if we were never strangers. There are no details worth mentioning or remembering. It was just that easy. From that day forward, I spent almost everyday in her room making small talk, listening to her strange Middle Eastern Jazz, marveling at her collection of clothes, and falling in love with every inch of her being. I wish I could have seen us from my room, just to give myself visual evidence of a once-reality, now dissipating into memory.
Things were simple, things were hidden. Her name was Easy, I didn’t know her age, I didn’t know her past, I didn’t even know her last name. It didn’t matter. She smoked, but sparingly, she drank vivaciously. She loved dogs, but couldn’t afford one, she hated the system, but loved and longed for a proper education. She hated novels but loved poetry. She wasn’t particularly articulate, but she had sincerity for days. She kept so much to herself— she was private and poised and had the self-restraint of a British guard, but was affectionate and funny and whimsy and perceptive and so very accepting. She said she never loved a person, but she was flirty and so, so confusing; she was vulpine.
All the mental infrastructures of my defensive forts melted when she looked up at me, when she touched my hair, when she told me I was the pretty, when she passed me a blunt, when she touched her chin in thought, when in mockery, she sang the words of the book she was reading at the time, when she fell and sunk into her down comforter, sighing with exhaustion and good feelings after dancing to her strange music.
Only once did I stop and realize, I had no idea who I was turning into. I left whoever I was twenty highs ago, and I was glad to leave her behind. I don’t remember much else that happened in the course of the six months I spent with Easy. How could I focus on anything else. I loved her in so many senses of the word, and she loved me, strictly because of our camaraderie, strictly because she had so much affection to give and so much to receive, but only so few to give and receive from. But that didn’t matter much either.
One night, Jeff and Easy decided to throw a huge party and we spent the night dancing and being chased around by handsome boys, faces chiseled by their daily coke intake. A boy named Sig had gotten a hold of me and in a drunken haze, he started kissing down my neck, tongue swirling around my collar bones and heading southward toward my tiny chest. I leaned my head back, welcoming the long-forgotten warmth from a mouth, when I saw Easy at the far corner of the room, carefully and lightly kissing the boy who’s lap she was sitting in. It broke me. and that’s when I realized I was crazy.
I was a 20 year old girl from the middle of nowhere, who had lost sight of everything except for this girl I barely knew anything about. I was being physically entranced by the hottest guy I’d ever seen, and all I could feel was pain at the sight of Easy showing someone else the affection that I sub-consciously longed for. It didn’t make sense. How could I be attracted to her? How could I have fallen in love with her, in that way.
How could I not have…
My mind did twists and I felt a coldsweat of panic rise from the fog in my brain. I didn’t understand. I had to have gone insane. I choked the intrusive thought to the back of my head, gave Sig a kiss and a push and walked away without even a glance up, into Easy’s room.
I was caught off guard. She was already there, a cigarette barely hanging on her lower pout, lying on her stomach, legs bent upward, her feet, doing a little dance on an invisible floor, arms crossed over and holding down pages of one of Raymond Carver’s short story collections. She was reading.
She looked up at me and smiled. With sleep, alcohol, and the comfort of her presence invading the urgency I felt earlier to confront her, I passed out next to her, unaware of anything except the flutter of paper as she turned pages.
The last thing I remember was saying, you’re so strange, Ease. She laughed and replied, yea, I guess I’m a bit strange in that way.
That was the last I saw of her.
I moved out the following month to the far-away city I reside in now. I couldn’t stay in a room that still innocuously peered into hers.
It’s been about 3 years since I met Easy, but I still think about her from time to time. It is all in painful vain, as I knew so little about her, but I am happy knowing that she was once a presence in my life. She was a bullet that ended my bitter state of inertia and brought me into something new. And instead of questioning and over-analyzing everything that happened with her or to her as I would have and could do, I’ll leave it at that. She was Easy. She was someone who knew more about the world than I or anyone, for that matter, ever will. She was everything I wasn’t and everything I wanted to be. She was other-worldly, extra-dimensional, even. Yet, she was human. Just in the way that I sought comfort in my strange, removed relationships with those around me, she, as private as she was, wanted that relationship with me. She longed to be known and loved and to know and to love. She wanted to relate, engage, and exist in world other than her own. She was my neighbor, someone’s daughter and the only girl I ever loved. She made everything I once believed so resolutely, crumble. She proved to me that everything I begrudgingly held in self-righteousness could be wrong. And I thank God, or whoever–whatever, if anything is out there, for that.
So here I am now, the most satisfied fallibilist, the most uncanny paradox one can ever meet, hoping to one day, out of marvelous chance, stumble across a wormhole that might lead me to her again.