I’ll make the most of all the sadness,
You’ll be a bitch because you can.
You try to hit me just to hurt me
So you leave me feeling dirty
Because you can’t understand.
It was a cold night. The car heat was on full blast. The exceedingly bright city lights beamed me a welcome as I entered what passes to be a metropolis.
Driving through downtown, I took note of the big signs advertising the products in vogue, simulacrums for the venom we’ve come to embrace as consumerism. I gazed at them, disgusted by the commercialized capitalist culture that defines us while hypocritically admitting my desire to indulge in it.
Bright lights a few blocks down. At first I thought it was a bonfire of celebration, but as I neared I realized it was a building on fire, smoke rising and fading into the night sky.
I approached the scene. The flames have just about consumed the building in its entirety. Firefighters watched in vain as the structure slowly crumbled.
I rolled down the window, expecting to hear screams of agony and cries for the lost of loved ones. I heard nothing. Nothing, except for the crackling of the flames and pieces of falling debris. The sirens were muted. They were unnecessary.
Death was in the air. We all felt haunted, but our eyes remained fixated on the fire. What is so fascinating about death? What is death? Is death signified by the stopping of the heart, the identification of a corpse, or the complete disacknowledgement of the person’s existence? The fire victims might have perished, but they left behind ideas, memories, and legacies. Are they ‘dead’?
What about love? The idea of ‘undying love’? Does love remain after a person dies? Or does it eventually burn out like this horrible fire?
On the other side of the road, on the ledge overlooking the bay, stood a man. I watched as he lit a cigarette and stared into the night sky. Something about him told me to keep looking; the gaze was of utter melancholy. Maybe he lost a loved one in the fire? Something told me it’s more. He wore his broken heart on his face, someone that goes beyond losing someone…
Don’t you think we oughta know by now?
Don’t you think we should’ve learned somehow?
*Lyrics by John Mayer