We got to talking, some friends and I. We got to talking about a lot of shit. We’re good at that, you know, the “talking shit” thing. The subject came up of where we wanted to live. Barring silly little things like money and jobs and family, where is the best place in the world to live?
The variety of answers you get with that question are pretty damned amazing. Some, even, are surprising.
Kinda like mine.
“Wait, you bastard,” one friend cried, “you live in the middle of fucking Yellowstone, for fuck’s sake. Why the fuck would we even ask you?!”*
*Ever wonder why my characters curse so much in my stories? Welcome to my life…
The thing was, you couldn’t just answer the question once. You couldn’t just say, “Fresno”** and let things stand with that. You had to explain your answer, then come up with two more places.
**And, yes, that there is some weapons-grade sarcasm, if you’re wondering.
My first answer was easy to explain. Hell, my first answer was actually doable for someone like me — someone with no fear of change, or of starting completely from scratch. Of course, I also didn’t have to actually explain my first answer, I just had to show a picture. One look, and my friends were on board with living there, too.***
***Yes, I’ve been there. And, yes, as someone who has been to dozens of countries and hundreds of cities, it is one of my favorite places in the entire world…
My second and third answers, however…they took some explaining. One of my friends — either smarter than the rest, or more sober — even managed to find the common thread linking those three places.
“Wait a second,” he said. “You’re a stupid fuck. Why are all these places on the water? And why are they all looking fucking west?!”
Oh, by the way, I never said my friends were particularly, uhh, friendly. Ahem.
If any of my friends had ever learned to read,**** I would’ve pointed them to a previous post of mine.
****Can you see now why we’re friends?
Okay, so quoting yourself is the writing version of a Circe Lannister orgy, but I’m gonna go ahead and do it anyway:
“You sit out at the end of the jetty, several hundred feet from shore. A drink in one hand, perhaps, and a cigar in the other. The ocean stretches in front of you; not just as far as the eye can see, but as far as the mind can wander.
The sun dips, touches the horizon. Fire in the sky, and in the clouds. The ocean turns from blue-grey, briefly, to molten metal. You can’t break yourself away; you continue to stare blankly, to watch and absorb the closest thing this world has to infinity. There is nothing in front of you but water. Intellectually, you know that a few thousand miles away you will find islands and peoples, but there is no room for “intellectually” when you’re staring out over the edge of the world.
No, when you’re looking out into that infinity, there is nothing in your universe but sunset and water and thought. Memories and dreams…a certain emotional distance from the world itself…and the “knowledge” not that you are at the end of the world, but that you have everything in front of you.”
Okay, so beside the fact that you have no idea just how badly I’m itching to edit that passage before I quote it, I should probably offer an explanation.
Of all the places I’ve been…
Of all the things I’ve seen…
Of everything I’ve done…
Nothing can make me feel that particularly bittersweet medley of small, nostalgic and warmly comfortable like staring out into infinity. And, no, the sunrises of coasts on the east don’t do it. Sunrises are about anticipation and hope. They are about beginnings and energy and tackling your problems.
Sunsets, on the other hand…
Sunsets are about that pause for reflection. For memory and reflection. For that feeling of a day well done, of a chunk of your well lived.
With a glass in one hand and a cigar in the other, of course.