Interview No. 6: Starting Out
By Dermot Cory
Cory: So just to start out, can you give me a brief description of how you actually got here?
Baby: The bus. [laughs] No, well, frankly, I can’t. You know how people don’t remember the impact of a car accident? Well, it’s kinda like that. There are just little flashes, it just looks like headlights and hands, and then—oh, yeah, I do remember this—I remember falling asleep and there was softness all around and I don’t remember really what it looked like, it’s just like a deep red that comes to mind. And I was falling asleep and I was so mindlessly tired, just feeling that softness all around. That moment I remember pretty well, but beyond that it was just flashes and panic.
Cory: What’s the next thing you remember after that? When you woke up?
Baby: Well, that’s the thing. At this point nothing’s really linear. It’s just kind of impressions and sparks, so memory isn’t really my strong suit yet. I mean, don’t get me wrong, things stay with me, but not in a straightforward way, y’see. I heard someone describe it once—not that I exactly remember this, of course, it just exists in me—that memory is like skin. It’s there and it’s always been there as far as you know, and it’s intricate. There’s rarely recognition of how any of these pores and freckles and red marks started, they just exist with you. And you don’t even know it, but they’re changing constantly and the skin is falling off and there’s something new there and you think it’s the same but it’s not. There are no lessons being learned, just new skin that you feel like you understand better, even if you really don’t. Does that make any sense?
Cory: Sort of. Memory is still like that in some ways for everyone, though. I guess for you it’s more like discovering your skin, right?
Baby: No, that’s the point. You don’t really discover anything. It’s just there and it changes without you noticing, and it feels the same but it’s not. It’s bulkier, heavier, something like that.
Cory: Okay, let’s move on. So I guess can you describe to me what existence feels like on a daily basis for you?
Baby: Sure, sure. Well, I can start with just my eyes. I really don’t understand my eyes yet, of course. I don’t even really understand that they exist, but there’s this thing in me, this little uncomfortable thing, where I’m figuring out to look at other people’s eyes. Again, I don’t understand that they’re eyes, you know, it’s like—well, it’s like you’ve been drawing freehand, then you suddenly find the edge of a ruler and it feels so good just to drag the pencil along it. It feels really good to look into eyes like that, even though I don’t know why. It’s just like a cog falls into place when I make eye contact and something’s right where it wasn’t before.
Cory: So can you —
Baby: Wait, wait, wait! [laughs] I haven’t even gotten to sight yet!
Cory: Oh, I’ll let you get there. I’m just wondering if you feel uncomfortable when there aren’t gazes to meet?
Baby: Oh no, no definitely not. My eyes don’t even want to focus on anything. I’m just as entertained by a blank wall as I am by other people. Entertained. That’s not the right word. Confounded, shocked, baptized. Baptized, that’s the word. I’m baptized by every moment. Existence exists! The air exists and it consumes me. Y’know how people say they’re one with everything? Hell, I’ll probably say it sometime in my stoner phase. [laughs] But right now, I really am one with everything! No ego, man, no ego. I’m just existing and don’t know myself from the car seat or the sky or the bottle.
Cory: So, is it bliss?
Baby: No…no definitely not. It’s just stress-free confusion. No neuroses, just feeling and seeing and smelling. I shouldn’t say stress-free. It’s stressful as fuck! Can I say that? Can I say fuck here?
Cory: Yeah, my producers don’t give a shit anymore.
Baby: Okay, then it’s stressful as fuck. It’s just not mental stress. Not even really emotional stress. It’s more like trying to pull a bungee cord really tight, but you’re not using your arms. I don’t know what you’re using. Something behind your sternum and in front of your heart.
Cory: Your soul?
Baby: I dunno, I dunno. Maybe your soul. I definitely don’t understand souls yet.
Cory: What’s the most comforting thing you’ve found in existence so far?
Baby: That’s easy: Mom. The arms, the hands, the facial features that I only comprehend in individual segments, the tits. Oh yeah, tits. I have this love-hate relationship with tits. On the one hand, they nourish me and I can just close my eyes and move my mouth and get full. On the other hand, breast milk is disgusting.
Cory: Well, enjoy it while it lasts. It’ll be a couple decades before you see one of them again in real life.
Baby: A couple decades? What kind of loser were you in high school? [laughs]
Cory: No, I was cool! I mean, I got some…stuff. I had fun.
Baby: Yeah, it really sounds like it. You probably spent most of high school tie-dying and writing freaky collaborative poems with your friends.
Cory: Well, yeah! But people liked that!
Baby: Chicks? Chicks dug that?
Cory: They thought it was cool.
Baby: Yeah, you probably got a lot of action writing “The Chronicles of Spaghetti Man” and drinking beer in the woods with dudes.
Cory: Let’s get back to the subject.
Baby: What is the subject? What are you really getting at?
Cory: I’m just trying to probe into what it is to be you, right here and now, especially considering that you’ll be someone else in just a few years.
Baby: What, I’ll be someone else like you?
Cory: Well, sort of. Yes, actually. Just like me.
Baby: And how am I not like you now?
Cory: Well, my skull is fused. [laughs]
Baby: But, really. How are we that different? You act like I’m an empty shell, just mindless perception, but how are you so full? How are you so complete?
Cory: I’d never call myself complete. I can be a shell at times. I perceive things all the time without thinking about them.
Baby: And what is that like? Can you describe to me a little bit about what it’s like to perceive without reflection?
Cory: Just…I dunno. Passing things on the street. Cars go by, flashes of light, knowing what they are but not really knowing because they’re full of people and those people are full of memories and movement, but it’s just a flash of light to me, just metal whipping by me. The red light in the courtyard of my apartment building, kind of hellish and wonderful and made by molecules electrocuted and exploding, and I just sit there with my whiskey, glances of sidewalk, voices drifting out through screened windows, saying something important but just noise to me, striking my brain and pounding against my skin but not even acknowledged. Cigar butt, trampled and ignored, fingers moving and ignored, stars shining and perceived and ignored.
Baby: That’s good. It’s… less specific for me.
Cory: Hang on, this recorder… [tape hisses]
Baby: [garbled] … better batteries by now.
Cory: You’d think so. Back to the subject?
Baby: Flashes of light, red when eyes closed, bright light when the muscles pull them open. Fingers against scalp, cotton hats, warmth on the head spreading to the feet. Claustrophobia wrapped in blankets lolling toward the mumbling voices, noises of my own, feels good to make noise, white sounds when my body tires. Hands and hands, fingers, clutch them, feels good to clutch them. The noise crackles and it’s too much. The eyes flutter and it’s too much. Open space, blue all above, staring, unfocused, it’s too much. I cry. No tears, just screams. It feels good to make noise, but it’s too much noise. Crackling. I cry. Colors, blobs of color looming closer, fingers. Empty and I need to be full, so I cry. Something in my mouth, something to do, nothing to do, nothing required except to fill. It’s too much. I cry. Darkness but the muscles pull the eyes open. Blue from the clear holes in the wall. Rushing sounds, blood rushing, air rushing. I don’t cry. Eyes open and darkened colors slowly moving above, my arms useless, my legs bundles from my belly, the colors extensions of myself, my blankets are my arms, my arms are my heart and brain, my penis is my legs and my legs are air moving the colors above my head. I don’t cry. It’s not too much, yet. Range, depth, color, pull, loosen on the blanket, tightened blanket, someone’s here, something moves, color, light, then dark.
Cory: …that wasn’t a perfect description.
Baby: It can’t be.
Cory: You’re right.
Baby: Will I really hit that boy in the throat someday because he made me mad?
Cory: Yes. I did, at least.
Baby: Will it be difficult to fall asleep?
Baby: Will I live alone, and smoke sometimes, and drink a lot and throw up sometimes? And waste a lot, lot of time?
Baby: And have friends and miss them? And know that things still exist even when I can’t see them?
Baby: Will I think about health insurance?
Baby: And I’ll try to remember what this time is, just like in five years you’ll try to remember what this time is for you?
Cory: It’ll be easier for me.
Baby: But not much easier.
Cory: Weird, right?
DERMOT CORY is a journalist, poet, and sporadic burglar living in your neighborhood. He’s also an editor at MidwestBeaches.com. He frequents the mountains and deserts of Idaho, living with his dog and birds. His girlfriend lives in his house.