Monday, April 20, 2009

These walls did speak

I wrote a post a few months ago about my experience with free BMW brochures and how I used the glossy pages to cover nearly every inch of wall on my half and sometimes Alex's half of the room.

Today I spent a couple hours carefully taking them down. I tucked each picture into the envelopes BMW sent to me those months ago. I scraped the tack off the walls and the thin paper, eventually amassing a good fistful of old grey tack.

Then there was just one. The first picture I put up- an M Coupe- blue, gorgeous. Written next to it were the words, "You'd swear it just asked, 'What are you looking at?'"

What was I looking at? The remnants of a twelve-hour custom wallpaper project, yes, but I couldn't resist the chance to let my wall speak to me. "What are you looking at?" it said quietly.

I was looking at the last BMW on the wall, at the end of my Sistine car collage. I was looking at the bags strewn across the floor, devouring the things that proved I still belonged in that dorm in Provo. I was peeking through the blinds to see the signs that April had arrived, and that life was changing again.

Alex was unconscious in an afternoon nap. The sun trickled in through the closed blinds. The gentle April air smelled fresh.

I gutted my room. It's left with only what I'll need until Thursday. Then it isn't mine anymore.

Now I'm looking at the empty walls, yellowing and dull. I'm looking at the ceiling. All year I'd look up to the dashboard of an M6 coupe when I lay in bed. Now there's only drywall and a light bulb...the absence of the true place where I lived out so many of my freshman days.

I couldn't recognize the place without the walls covered... like a man without a face. But even the faceless have personalities...even the faceless can speak. My walls can't speak anymore. They can't spark my memory. Every cue to their existence save traces of tack here and there is gone.

I wish they had left a ghost, but the walls' silence almost convinces me there was never any life there at all, and that perhaps I dreamed it... that perhaps I dreamed a long, beautiful dream and met people and learned things and pursued ends that seemed so important but will quickly fade now that I've awakened.

But I believe they will linger. I even have a slight feeling that they will become real in time- these people, these memories, thoughts, and purposes. Did I say goodbye to figments of an unconscious mind today? Was the glare of the M coupe that asked, "What are you looking at?" a random interpretation of electrical brain activity in my sleep? Did I spend the last eight months behind the wheel of the M6 coupe above my bed? Yes.

For life's a dream the walls did speak
And consciousness will fade to grey
The reminiscer keen to seek
The evidence of former days
Will only find the memories
Of dreams or facts?

Well who's to say?