He looked out the window of his office cubicle.
The sky was slate gray and made him lose his appetite. The ground was a darker gray. It looked like ashes and trash. He wished an organized crew of men in clean, orange jumpsuits would scour the world until it sparkled, or paint the world in vibrant colors like a mural in a children's hospital.
He looked around at some of the things on his desk: a picture of his wife (the picture was trapped in a cheap fake-wood frame he had bought at Ross); an old tape cassette Sony walkman, intended for display and not use. He had an iPod, after all.
The picture of his wife made him ambivalent.
The Walkman made him smile.
The Walkman made him think of Bon Jovi and the 1980s in general, and lusting after pictures of fashion models in glamour magazines. And all the girls he hoped one day to have sex with, but never would. In those precious days, he didn't know what disappointments lay ahead of him. He only knew what infinite hope felt like. Nowadays, he could only vaguely remember that feeling. It felt like wearing someone else’s well-worn shoes.
As a middle-aged man, he had certain knowledge of disappointment first hand.
Sometimes, like now, he liked to remember the authentic feeling of that teenaged-hope. It would come to him with power and immediacy.
Especially when he thought about Vogue magazine. May 1988 Vogue in particular.
He wished he had that favorite May 1988 Vogue in front of him right now, the one which his mother had kept on the coffee table for over a year after it had arrived in the mail. He would have turned to the photo spread starting on page 178 that featured a beautiful brunette girl with dark eyes and red lips. He had memorized every curve of her beautiful face as a teenager, and still remembered it quite well: the delicate nose, the elegant chin, the rebellious lips, the confident eyes, the conservative hair. He realized he knew that face so well, he didn’t actually need the magazine to see her.
She could have been standing right in front of him.
He had believed in some illogical teenaged corner of his mind, from early May of 1988 through at least June of 1989, that the model in that May photo-spread would possibly be his wife someday. Bear his children. Make him happy forever. During that 13 month period, no one could have convinced him with anything approaching decisiveness that he would NOT marry that mysterious brunette fashion model, unless they could produce a valid obituary for her.
Fearing that someone might inadvertently sway the certain conviction of his infinite hope over to despair, and crush his dreams of a future with May 1988 Vogue page 178, he had never told anybody about his love for her, just in case.
Now, still reminiscing in his restrictive cubicle while staring out the window into the dirty gray world outside, he accidentally glanced at the picture of his wife on his desk next to his Walkman. He felt his happiness slip a notch. So he concentrated on the Walkman, and May 1988 Vogue page 178 returned to him with force, and again brought with her the pleasure of infinite, perfect hope.
It felt good.
It felt immortal.
He imagined himself kissing his fingertips and then blowing a kiss to that anonymous model across the years. She winked and nuzzled her shoulder coquettishly. Her way of signaling to him that she appreciated the sentiment.
In that moment of connection across time and space, with the model who would remain forever young in his mind and memory, and forever unknown to him, he felt something akin to the blissful, real knowingness he had felt during his very first date with his wife over seven years ago. Back when he had looked into his wife’s then-sparkling eyes, and he and she had both swelled with thoughts of ‘happily ever after.’ The feeling of real hope had been so strong in that moment with his wife.
That hope was gone. Used up.
But the teenaged hope he had felt for May 1988 Vogue page 178 was still strong, and would remain forever so. This hope was bolstered by the power of a young man imagining what could be, with the invincible power of youth, and sending those thoughts forward to the man he would later become.. This expansive feeling of infinite, youthful hope that arose when he thought about May 1988 Vogue page 178 would never be trampled by seven years worth of hard truths. His hopeful feelings for May 1988 Vogue page 178 would stay Technicolor perfect forever, unlike the gray reality of his feelings towards his actual life.
He sighed and looked out the window at the gray world, and tried to bury his thoughts about 1988 under the nausea that the grayness outside incited in his stomach.
Hope is my drug of choice.
It’s better than having.
Once you get something, you discover its flaws.
If you have nothing, you have everything.
END OF PART 1
copyright © 2012, David Hudnut