Every Traveler Who Returns Is Lost

by Robin Wyatt Dunn

Every time I come home, I rediscover myself. And I remember why I left.

To describe my home, I must describe my own body―we are ascended, which means we don’t see ourselves as separate from the city, though we can leave, and return.

Here now, on the terrace, I remember these long years, the wake of the years now treading its long pull at the back of my head, because―

Because because because. I know I should avoid explanations. Tell only of the experience. I was elsewhere, I have returned.

This transmission, if it reaches you—which it will not, but if it could—it is my diary. For history. For my mother.

Here the asphalt is cool against my legs, where I sit, hunched under the leaves. Carefully maintained, this terrace suspended above Broadway five hundred feet, but so calm―things are calm here.

You know that. If I can say things are calm, I can say other things, but I would say them with my head. No judgment of mine should be recorded―please, is this permitted?―do not let my judgments be transferred into your awareness, only the experience so that there might be no separation.

I am returned, here in the pagoda, the garden for the returned, those unmeshed for a time from the rest (and the truth is we are not so different, only by degree, even as lovers join their bodies or friends their minds in conversation)

But I am doing it again, offering explanations. Excuses.

I hate it here, you see. I should have said that at the outset. The calmness is not right because of the pull at the back of my head, which is a generator. Nothing uncommon, a generator.

Perception is funny, what we tune out. The sound of a generator is not supposed to be heard, and yet I hear it. It is more there than anything else, and I know it knows me to be here, a musical note in its chorus, choral, toroidal…

You are a body, Robin. You are arrived, into New Haven, into the porthole, into the terrace, the leaves near as penitents, the corridors of asphalt―I mean the sidewalks, they are sidewalks Robin, they are fantastic, truly wonderful―

Well, no. No, no, no. All that I speak is a disease. I have killed my mother.

As I will murder you.

She made me come back!

You persist in the belief that your fair city, your fair city, your fair city will be―not resonant, no, no, not quite, what is it that you believe about this damned place?

WE BELIEVE IT IS HEAVEN, ROBIN

Yes, heaven, that’s it. What is that?

THAT EVERYTHING IS AS IT SHOULD BE.

The same old story, yes. Ecclesiastes. My mother is like you. A time for everything and everything in its time.

YES

A shit for every pot.

YES

A crap for every dog

WHAT?

But we know all this. Its immanence is its horror. The railings. The translucent memory patterns on the water. The sound of the generator…thrumming its humdrum lovers (us) into action―

I am a student. I am a student of your reality.

Your reality means nothing to me. I am above it. I am defeating it!

I am―

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED LAST TIME, ROBIN

You don’t know anything about last time goddamn it.

DESCRIBE WHAT YOU SEE

My metal donkey. Blue and black. My satellite, black. My escritoire, silver.

YES, ROBIN

My blood―

YOU ARE GOING TO HOSPITAL, ROBIN

Make me not remember.


 

Robin Wyatt Dunn writes and teaches in Los Angeles.

From the Author
This is a story about hive minds. Humanity has probably always been a hive mind, and it’s possible it’s becoming more noticeable now as population increases.

Like Orwell’s 1984, the universe of my story is collectivist, wary of difference.

Like the Middle Ages, travelers were suspect because they were different, and in this universe, those who leave the hive must undergo extensive re-education before they can be readmitted to society.

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