Good morning everyone. Today’s hoddle is a collection of thoughts from the last seven days your hoddler-in-chief’s life. It is 1,400 words long. I will not, have never done, and refuse to do a “TLDR”.
To those who don’t wish to read: Feel free to press the “Z” key.
Thursday, 12 January
I can’t seem to escape The Cure.
Pictures of You plays outside a Courthouse bar as I wander in the intermittent rain.
On my desk at the office in Washington sits The Book of Eels. I know it’s there, but I cannot stand to pick it up. I had hoped it would be many months until I see it again.
All I can think of is last night.
In Courthouse, the frigid air bites into my skin. I am under-dressed.
I walk up and down Wilson Boulevard. It is pouring now. I look inside the windows of restaurants lined along the street. Bustling with patrons. It is warm, I can only imagine.
I don’t want to join them.
And so I continue to walk. The rain coats my clothes and grows colder as the minutes pass and the wind blows.
I will have to pick up The Book of Eels eventually. But I do not want to collect it. Not yet.
The muffled chorus to Pictures of You plays from the speakers outside this bar, competing against the thudding rain. I curse The Cure. I curse Robert Smith.
What kind of bar plays Pictures of You anyways?
I walk further still. Hung-up lights illuminate the walkway.
Back in my car, I turn on the ignition and begin my Spotify.
Boys Don’t Cry and Close to Me play back-to-back - two consecutive Cure songs on a 21-hour playlist that’s on shuffle. What luck.
Rain splatters on my windshield as I drive on the 395. Simon Gallup’s floating bass line fades out Close To You and I flip through the rest of the playlist until I make my way back home.
I open the door and walk to my left, towards the window.
Near the window is a bookshelf with a vacant slot. I know which book used to occupy that space.
It is sitting at my desk in the office.
I stare at the nearly-full bookshelf and curse its near-completion.
Soon The Book of Eels will return to the bookshelf and stand upright, next to H is For Hawk and Fox and I.
Soon it will be back to where it once was.
But it won’t be where it belongs.
Sunday, 15 January
Tottenham Hotspur lose to Arsenal. I don’t care.
Tuesday, 17 January
Outside a bar on U Street, a dense fog stacks on top of itself.
Outside a bar on U Street, goodbyes are shared. The cruelty of time speeds to a disorienting degree. Fragile fingers cling to fleeting moments. I hope to grasp such a moment, but it slips through my fingers.
A metal cannister catapults me from Farragut West back to Arlington.
I turn the ignition on in my car. On comes Just Like Heaven.
I drive along the staid fog. The turgid, moist air coats the streets and suspends before me. Headbeams tear away the particles and illuminate my path. But as each inch is conquered, another is lost. The fog of night overwhelms me, drowning the LED lights of my Crosstrek.
Time is cruel. How I wish for those moments back. Not to do them over, but to hold on to them - to savour them - for only a little while longer.
For only a little while longer. To see, to hear, to feel, to be.
Spare me from The Cure, you cruel aggregator. They are not welcome here tonight.
American Beauty spins on my turntable.
Fog unsettles. Rain lifts.
I grow tired. I retreat into the caverns of my memory. And all I can think about is ....
I resist the urge to watch Good Will Hunting.
Dearest sleep, make me your partner. Wrap me in your arms. Hold me, squeeze me, kiss me as you did The Cure. As I close my eyes tonight let me see nothing.
No memories. No dreams. No mares. No light.
Just darkness. Bring me darkness.
Dearest night, grant me refuge. My only refuge, if only for tonight.
The mercilessness of time will take me. That I do not contend. As it stole the moments I held dear so too will it hold me hostage to the times from which I wish to break free.
The night calls me. I grow tired. I must surrender.
When I do close my eyes tonight I will not rest. The eight-millimeter tape of my memory will roll. Fleeting moments chronicled into moving pictures. F Scott Fitzgerald once wrote on the horrors of insomnia.
I am irretrievably sad.
All I can think about is ...
And so I surrender.
Wednesday, 18 January
The first tears form around my eyes close to 11:30am as I drive towards Pentagon City on what will become a gorgeous, sunny day.
Earlier this morning I ran along the Mount Vernon Trail. How many dozens of times have I run here, adjacent to DCA? The aeroplanes whose jet engines that once disoriented me now bring me great comfort. The shadows of 747s and 787s above me and the explorations of all those who are on the aircraft at times consume my imagination.
Today, these planes are departing from Gravelly Point. I am a couple hours early. But, still, I stop for a moment. I look towards the jets, the infinite possibilities. The many people. The one person. I exhale. I yell.
I think about the billions of probabilities and choices that brought me here. I think about the years, months and days that led me here. I think about so much more.
I think about moments of failure, of perceived failure. Of the lowest trenches of my life. They brought me here. If given the choice, I would experience them all over again, as they have brought me here.
I think about lost moments, about moments seized. I think about mornings. I stare at the sky and wish for those moments back. I wish to hold onto those fleeting moments forever.
I think about one Monday morning.
I shake my head. I stare at the sky. At the infinity of the universe. Memories strewn together. A finely-knit cloth. Hold it close. Keep it near. Thrill me.
In these fleeting moments, in these billions of years of the universe’s existence, one such creature has collided with another. The sands of time will not chronicle all that had led those two to that one place, at that one time, to that moment.
Neither songs nor books nor poetry nor craft will chronicle the mystery of collision between those who were non-existent to each other until recently.
But I will.
How two things that were once non-existent now feel inextricable I do not know. It is one of the grandest, most beautiful mysteries of life.
The perpetuity of time dispassionately propels me forward like a raging river, and I am powerless against its current.
I step into museums - The National Art Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. A promise fulfilled. Stories I hope to share.
I am back in Courthouse, sitting on a patio under a cloud-dotted sky. All around me is infinity.
I do not know what compels me, but I open my phone. I scroll through the photos on my Instagram history.
Lo and behold a post from August 19, 2021.
A picture shows my copy of The Book of Eels next to a record of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. I read my prompt from that day. I read the lyrics to Astral Weeks.
If I ventured in the slipstream / Between the viaducts of your dream / Where immobile steel rims crack / And the ditch in the back roads stop / Could you find me?
I think of that book. Memories recalled. Moments shared. Hopes yet to be realised.
I am irretrievably sad.
A moment in time floats into the forefront of my consciousness. I grab hold of it.
I look back on that memory and I smile.
Fitzie’s track of the day: Sugar Magnolia/Sunshine Daydream (8/27/72), by the Grateful Dead
And now for your links:
Antonio Conte speaks on his family after the personal trauma experienced this season
Want to know what Joe Rodon and the other Spurs loanees are up to? Look no further
The BBC writes on the ‘skinny-dipping maverick’ making waves in the Bundesliga
Did you know that there have been 14 managerial changes in the EFL Championship have changed managers this season?