Making memories for one another soon became second nature. Every time a hummingbird came to the feeder outside your bedroom window, you’d watch it intently so that later I could marvel at its throbbing little body and blur of wing beats, be enchanted by the beady eyes glistening with sunlight and those metallic-green feathers like finely tasseled scales running down its back. In search of scenery you’d like, I spent an afternoon wandering the island where a gallery was showing Mom’s latest work. With every exchange of memories, we gave each other a new way to be elsewhere and elsewhen—a moment for the mind to slip into whenever the fancy struck. Until we found out that our memories could get mixed up.
Wild confidence is reputed to have a certain ineffable something, but that’s all anecdotal—and quite possibly a placebo effect. What I am sure about is that historically, “naturally” sourcing confidence definitely hasn’t made things better for the wildlife involved. For decades, countless animals were rendered ambivalent and indecisive, unable to maintain their long-standing livelihoods—many a mighty species reduced to relying on the steady supply of food promised to them in exchange for their confidence.
At the water’s edge, I take off my shoes and socks, then step into the cold current and stand on the rocky stream bed in a spot where your shadow can fall fully upon the water’s surface. Leaning over her, I reach my hands through your shadow and jostle the water. Barely a moment later, emotional detritus comes off her as a plume of minuscule grit that brushes past my fingers and palms before flowing away, carried off downstream.
Her sense of self-worth shouldn’t be so debilitated by the success of others. It’s unbecoming and unhealthy. So I make her a social comparison blocker: custom-crafted cognitech packed into a hair clip, an alligator-style barrette that she can easily wear as an unobtrusive accessory to constantly, preemptively inhibit her mind’s habit of benchmarking herself against others.
So I walk over and ask if she’d like to get together sometime, to try the deliciously maddening botanicals I’ve picked out. Her eyes glint all the more beguilingly as she smiles kindly—probably to soften the blow she’s about to verbally deal, having no doubt read the increased blood flow in my facial capillaries.
Earrings here, a bird over there, clouds everywhere. So many lovely things sprinkled throughout this city, lying in wait until I’m close enough for them to effortlessly draw in and hold my gaze then attention with their visual siren songs. So I program my smartglasses to blur anything remotely pretty into sheer indiscernibility.