There's this book that I love. It neither holds revelations about our existence nor engages in a discussion about the state of the world. It’s not extraordinarily smart nor is it brilliantly creative. Nonetheless, I hold it in very high regard.
This book is Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I’ve only recently discovered it, embarrassingly enough, but it’s had a cult following since its publication in 1999.
It’s not Pulitzer Prize material. It’s no Ayn Rand or Dostoevsky either. Its words, after all, are innocuous; its style, simplistic. Still, I love this book because for a person like me who lived a difficult life at a young age, it’s almost like an empathetic reflection of my past.
I also love this book because of this one particular passage from the first chapter. It reads:
When we hit the tunnel, all the sound got scooped up into a vacuum, and it was replaced by a song on the tape player. A beautiful song called “Landslide.” When we got out of the tunnel, Sam screamed this really fun scream, and there it was. Downtown. Lights on buildings and everything that makes you wonder. Sam sat down and started laughing. Patrick started laughing. I started laughing.
And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.
“We were infinite.”
These words hit me with such force. They were the perfect words to describe this feeling you experience when you’re living in a moment, any random moment, and that moment makes you feel so alive that you never want it to end.
I didn’t know if it was because the innocence of youth, even a troubled one, was the only thing powerful enough to conjure this feeling of being infinite and I had lost that or if it was because the experience of age and maturity — and the real world problems that come with it — proved too much of a distraction to actually live in a single moment and that was all I had but I hadn’t felt “infinite” in so long. It had been so long, in fact, that I had almost forgotten how it felt.
But when I read that passage in the book, the good memories from when I was young came flooding back and I was reminded. Then, I was slammed with this realization of what I’ve been missing in my life.
So, I searched. I searched for it in the city, in the high places and low. I searched for it on land, in the streams, in the sea. I searched for it in the streets. I searched for it so I could feel it again.
And in my searching, I found it. And I felt it again.
In a way though, it wasn’t the same. I don’t know. I guess maybe it was different because feeling infinite when you’re privy to the realities of adulthood is very different to feeling infinite when you’re still in the throes of youth. But it wasn’t such a huge thing.
What matters is that I did, however simulated or short or different, again feel like I was infinite.
All photographs taken in LA by Michelle Rae. She lives, breathes, and haunts in the City of Angeles.