Skycycler

I’m swimming through a polarised blue so deep and featureless that I’m not sure if I’m in a tropical sea or the sky above the Hindu Kush. A slow barrel roll reveals nothing, no features to orient myself by. Coming up from sleep is like this, through layers of consciousness that shift and meld into new, terrifying non-shapes in that moment before your body twitches you sideways through a door into another world. I try and imagine the twitch—or fall, it’s more like a fall I remember—to see if I can trigger it. I think I’m failing. I’ve been failing to fall for a while. How long, I can’t remember.

It’s not quite featureless. If I look ahead I see strange geometric black and white patterns. I used to get these when I rubbed my eyes with my towel after a shower, when I pressed too deep into the orbits. Maybe something is pressing on them from somewhere.

A layer disappears.

It’s clearer now. I can hear something hissing, then glugging. Hiss, glug. Hiss, glug. And I know that, for now, I’m back there, back then, watching the world, watching the twisted frame of my bike spin away like a seed on the wind. There’s a powerful wind stirring the blue, whispering that I don’t belong here, not here and not now.

Hiss. Glug.

Ice in my veins. It’s coming closer, speeding up through my chest, spreading its chill through my back, through my carotid artery to bathe my brain.

Blink.

A nurse in here with me. She’d be moderately attractive if she weren’t so fat. She was here. Last. Month…

Lights coming towards me. Too near, too fast. A sound like thock, horizon spinning, slow, slow fast fast fast, slow. Branches, black and yellow, and blood. Mine, I presume.

Who was I before all this? Am I the same person? Who can say? Why the sudden need for continuity? Much of my skin was transplanted; cut from dead people with surgical precision and placed carefully onto smashed bones, torn sinews. My hair falls into my new corneas from time to time, which means it’s long. Too long. It’s also grey. I’m sure my hair wasn’t grey before. I’ve lost some weight. I understand that I’m almost white now with the salt and pepper beard of an older man sprouting from my—his—chin. I have the heart of an animal. Not an insult, it’s true. I had the valves from a pig’s heart transplanted into my chest to replace my own. The surgeon joked with me, he hoped it wouldn’t offend my religion? Couldn’t you tell, I asked? I laughed along with him. I’m not sure if it would, I said, or what that would mean. What would that mean? I asked. He stared at me when I said that. I stared at a painting over his shoulder, mentally applying thick layers of cerulean paint, like the sky I swim in. Like the sky I cycle in.

No one, apparently, reported me missing. I had no identification on me at the time of my accident. I’d probably just popped out for some milk, or something. Admittedly, that’s an odd thing to be doing in the middle of the night, in the middle of the countryside, in a three-piece-suit. One piece for every year I’ve been away.

Which got me thinking about me. It’s terribly freeing not to be shackled to a particular persona, to a particular history. I think I might like it—the old me, I mean—I think he might have liked it very much. But on the other hand, I can’t make up my mind, shackled, as I am, to indecision. And this is the key.  Life’s residue is a friend to the amnesiac.

But do I need a friend like that? Lets see. Can a person ever miss that which they have never had? Did ‘I’ have an identity before if ‘I’ can’t remember it now? Should I pine for my past when my present might be so much better? What about those who I might have left behind? Should I grieve for them, grieving for me?

Here’s what I know: Life’s too short.

So my ID is at ground zero, ripe for rebuilding. I’m the architect who is about to resolve the nature-nurture debate for myself.

At least I would if it weren’t for my residual self.

Here’s what else I know:

I’m right brained (the painting), left brained (the reasoning), I think, therefore I am (even if I didn’t continue), I live, I breathe, I love and love loving, I’m tidy (the long hair), I have prejudices, I’m going to have some fun.

Here’s what I think I know:  Identity, doesn’t live in the eyes, heart, face, space or race.

And something else: It does too.

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