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July 13, 2005
duck feathers and leather. This morning, as I finally woke up out of a haze of refrigerated dreams, I discovered that my head had been changed into a Charles-Eames-Lounge-Chair-seat-cushion. The rounded shape of the headboard of my bed even amplified this feeling. My face felt soft, like a first baseman's mitten and my eyes were like two buttons sewn in deep, pulling my skin oddly into my face. There was that leathery feeling in my throat and the circumference of my head appeared to now have some hight quality, Herman Milleresque, hand applied tubing. "What has happened to me," I thought. This was no dream. My bedroom, the one with the air conditioner and the higher ceiling, lay quietly between its four old walls. The wall behind the headboard was the one with the exposed brick, it was also the one with the rusty nail in it and that little lego person stuck into what for it must have felt like a fancy terrace of a grand apartment complex. The wall on the opposite side had the door in it. The door of which I so often dreamt, the one to that tiny room with all the important stuff in it. On the floor were piles of books, some boxes. To my right was the good old Graflex Camera, now covered with one of my old blue shirts. Some socks also were arranged to loose sets of L and R, there was a t-shirt, some notes, a drawing or two, photographs, the entite scene admired by some quietly breathing domestic dust bunnies. Instead of thinking what will happen to me in this condition, I began to experience some previously unknown anxieties. Where were the back cushions, for example, the twins which could be exchanged so that the one that got softer over time could take the place of the one not yet very used. What happened to the ottoman cushion? Was it there? Was it a part of me as well? Was ist in the apartment? Were we actually relatives? Why did I feel so soft? Who had been sitting on me? What ever happened to the walnut exoskeleton, what happened to the hard rubber shock absorbers, the aluminum support, the turnable base? What ever happened to the pig, the ducks... the tree? My mother called, and I had to pick up the phone, just because I was too far away from the speakerphone for the answering machine, the one placed in the window of the other room. It was as if she were calling me to come in after a night of play in the backyard. I was not a little boy anymore and she was not a tiny mom in the window on the 8th floor of the apartment building in Jastrzebie-Zdrój. She was now small and silver and the writing on her said: "Panasonic." She still called the same name I had when I was four years old though. This time it was not the other kids who heard her shout, this time it was those who still wanted to sleep by their open windows, somewhere between second and third street in Park Slope, in Brooklyn. We spoke about grafting, the living pieces in the size of coins that were cut out of my grandfather's legs, when his skin did not want to grow back after the amputations. We spoke about square metrage of the apartment where her brother still lives and where I spent the first screaming days of my life. She told me how many times she had to wash the glass bricks which the humorous architects used as an extension of the living room in that apartment. It was a sisyphian task, as the city in which I was born was among the most polluted in Europe. Eventually the glass bricks were removed and replaced by a door and a window, slicing off at least a meter and a half of the area of the apartment. Now the metrage of her current house was being reduced by the ever growing collections amassed by my father. What looked like three bedrooms on paper, began to feel like a labyrinth of channels among solidified memories and souvenirs. She managed to throw things out, just to discover that there is some correlation between the way gases behave and the way "stuff" claims space. I did not tell her about how my head felt. It would have probably worried her silly. Everything did though. It felt okay to hang up. It felt okay to take a shower. I did not hate the way I looked in the completely steamed up mirrors of my almost bulging medicine cabinet. I eventually managed to get some food into myself. I avoided two grey stones in my kasha. The plants got some food too. I managed to get myself into the last pair of underwear available in my apartment. I managed to find a clean and sorted pair of socks. I was late as I was putting on another shirt and pants. I was very late by the time I managed to get out the apartment door... I eventually managed to get to the subway station, which today had been put much farther away from the house and also behind the natural miracle of some rather heavy rainfall. It might have been the rain perhaps that shrank my head and made my eyes come slightly forward. Nobody complained about my leathery throat. Nobody seemed worried about that whispery noise right between my ears. The inside of my skull still feels a little soft right now. Almost as if it were filled with some duck feathers. Maybe I am just a version of myself today. Maybe what I am today is somehow the much less experienced version of what I am going to be tomorrow. Maybe today is just the end of the beginning of the next ten years or so. Or at least the next month, or week, or maybe... oh, never mind. Hmm... what will it be like to remember this very moment and to smile at myself as being still not very old and still packed with unfulfilled dreams? I never want to be separated from my ottoman cushion.