Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Life as a Zimbabwean


"As suburban children we floated at night in swimming pools the temperature of blood; pools the colour of Earth as seen from outer space. We would skinny-dip, my friends and me - hip-chick Stacey with her long yellow hair and Malibu Barbie body; Mark, our silent strongman; Kristy, our omni-freckled redheaded joke machine; voice-of-reason Julie; with the "statistically average" body; honey-bronze ski bum, Dana, with his non-existent tan line and suspiciuously large amounts or cash, and Todd, the prude, always last to strip, even then peeling off his underwear underneath the water. We would float and be naked - pretending to be embryos, pretending to be fetuses - all of us silent save from the hum of the pool filter. Our minds would be blank and our eyes closed as we floated in warm waters, the distinction between our bodies and our brains reduced to nothing - bathed in chlorine and lit by pure blue lights installed underneath diving boards.

Afterward we towelled off and drove in cars on roads that carved the mountain on which we lived - through the trees, through the subdivisions from pool to pool, from basement to basement, up Cypress Bowl, down to Park Royal and over the Lions Gate Bridge - the act of endless motion itself a substitude for any larger form of thought. The radio would be turned on, full of love songs and rock music; we believed the rock music but I don't think we believed in the love songs, either then, or now. Ours was a life lived in paradise and thus it rendered any discussion of transcendental ideas pointless. Politics, we supposed, existed elsewhere in a televised non-paradise; death was something similar to recycling.

Life was charmed but without politics or religion. It was the life of children of the children of the pioneers - life after God - a life of earthly salvation on the edge of heaven. Perhaps this is the finest thing to which we may aspire, the life of peace, the blurring between dream life and real life - and yet I find myself speaking these words with a sense of doubt.

I think there was a trade-off somewhere along the line. I think the price we paid for our golden life was an inability to fully believe in love; instead we gained an irony that scorched everything it touched. And I wonder if this irony is the price we paid for the loss of God."
- Douglas Coupland (Life After God)

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