I didn’t think I had five stray minutes, but why? Most of my minutes are stray. Stray as in “moving away aimlessly from a group or from the right course or place;” stray when I lean on the wall and strain to hear the song of the elusive oriole; stray when I pick up an old gardening book and lose myself in Victorian hot beds; stray when I lie on the sofa and stare out of the window at the clouds. I have an affection for stray animals, stray thoughts, stray people, those apart from the group. So why did I think I didn’t have five stray minutes? Probably because I’m too busy straying.
What if life was just a hologram, and we all created our own reality? A sort of Minecraft where you could recreate the real world, exploring it it all the while for entertainment and educational satisfaction, or even to score points. A game where we choose our friends and partners like chess pieces; a rook to teach us complex moves; a pawn to do our bidding? Maybe we are somewhere else, pressing our own buttons.
My littlest niece once asked me to play Minecraft with her. We built dens and fires from pixels all morning, sitting on the sofa. When I told her I used to do that at her age in real life, in the woods, she didn’t believe me.
She asked, “Real woods?”
“How do you know the difference between the real woods and the Minecraft woods?” I asked her.
She said, “I don’t know.”
Sometimes, nor do I.
In a dark corner of my office there is a small box. It’s bright and colorful, but otherwise utterly unremarkable. It emanates a strange odor, reminiscent of the musky, moldy basements where it had been kept over the past twenty years, before my Mom had thought of giving it to me.
In it, there is a pile of yellowing, crumbling paper that smells even older. Pages and pages of text that my 12-year-old self wrote on an old typewriter. Short stories, lyrics, school projects; deep thoughts only a teenager could think. I spent days, weeks, months, pressing down the mechanical keys of that typewriter, seeing letters magically appearing behind the ribbon, words manifesting on page after page, the loud clacking of the keys and the ethereal ping reminding me that I had reached the end of the line.
(c) Anett Enzmann 2019