356: “A Thing on Its Way Out” (Becky Chambers)

                “It’s pretty here,” Dex said. […]
                “Yes, it is, Mosscap said, as if making a decision within itself. “It is. Dying things often are.”
                Dex raised an eyebrow. “That’s a little macabre.”
                “Do you think so?” said Mosscap with surprise. “Hmm. I disagree.” It absently touched a soft fern growing nearby, petting the fronds like fur. “I think there’s something beautiful about being lucky enough to witness a thing on its way out.”
                -Becky Chambers, A Psalm for the Wild-Built

                A few weeks ago my partner touched the porch railing, and it sagged away from her fingers, the rotted wood giving way. The railing leaning out. She caught it, leaned it back in place, but it’s all going to come down pretty soon. The wood’s too far gone to hold for long. Which reminds me of the soft place in my kitchen floor, and the crumbling steps in front of my door, and the truth is, I like those things.
                Lately it feels like lots of things are ending. Some of my good friends are finishing their graduate programs and moving away. I’ve lived far away from some of my other friends for a long time now, and over the last tenish years I’ve been accepting that I won’t live close to all of them ever again. I hope I’ll live close to some of them. I’m also finishing my own MFA, of course, and moving away from a lot of what I’ve been studying. Letting go of some of the perspectives and questions I’ve held onto for a long time. Letting go, in some places, of my pretense of certainty. Steps crumbling.
                Wild-Built contrasts a metal building, a construction that can at best stand out of place until it breaks, with presences that decay and give themselves to other things. I like that idea. I hold onto “my ideas” a lot, I’ve learned dreams about immortality going on forever, but I don’t actually feel like I need those. There’s that saying “every ending is a new beginning,” but that shifts the emphasis to beginnings again. The truth is I like endings. The soft wood giving way.

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