“But without a name, things get lost.”
“Remember: The rules, like streets, can only take you to known places. Underneath the grid is a field—it was always there—where to be lost is never to be wrong, but simply more.
As a rule, be more.”
-Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
Lately I’ve been struggling with Uproar. I don’t know what to write. I look at old drafts, old streets, and they go around the water instead of into it. I love how Vuong acknowledges the importance of names: without them, “things get lost.” I love how Vuong highlights the danger of rules: with them, we’re headed toward “known places.” Instead we can get lost. Be lost. Stay lost.
It’s refreshing. Like waking up, if you’ve been dozing; like falling asleep if you’ve been on your feet too long. I had a passing daydream that all houses had holes in the middle, that next to our kitchens or our living rooms we left gaps where we could reach down and sink our hands into the earth of the field. “It was always there.” I would like to live in a house like that. I suppose, in a way, I’ve seen some: in India my friend lived in a house shaped like a doughnut, it’s central space open to the rain and sky.
Staying in so much for these last months, my walls, my streets, having started feeling very stable. I’m so often near here: so often, and in such a way, that I’ve started making the mistake of thinking I know here. But I only know the rules, the streets, the paths I take from breakfast (muesli!) to work (writing!) to finding ways to connect with friends (parks!). But I’m not just trying to go where I’ve known. Race Street was not always Race Street: it won’t be Race Street forever. It also isn’t: isn’t the line I expect, the path I walk. It also is: earth, and the heat inside, birds, and the murmur of voices with the wind. I think there must be a way to keep using our words, our names, so we’re not always lost—and to get lost like waking up. Like falling asleep. Like going in.
Here we are. It isn’t harder. It isn’t easier. It’s more. It’s simple. It’s simply more than I had named.