Hello, my name is Jacob Germain. I live at 1505 Dumaine street in the Treme neighborhood in New Orleans. I have always lived here, or presumptively I just moved here. I can’t tell which. I live in a small but roomy apartment with a woman I love very very much. I am very happy to be here. I can’t recall having been anywhere else, and I cannot envision being anywhere else again.
My mind tells me, my memory tells me, the people I know tell me, and my bank tells me that I once lived somewhere else. I know this conceptually, and I can envision the place I lived and think of the smells, the sounds, the feeling of being there. I have every reason to believe I was there, but I am not, and I cannot say for certain I ever was there. I’m twenty years old. Today I talked to a woman who was eighty-six, who told me she doesn’t feel like she’s that old. I don’t feel like I’m twenty, I just feel like myself, whoever that is. My age is irrelevant to my person, excepting when it becomes a license to receive gifts. I have moved here, or perhaps I have moved here, except I feel like I’ve stayed perfectly still. Today I met a famous trombonist. I will probably see him again next Wednesday. I look forward to it, as only I can look forward to what will happen in the inevitable future.
I am naked, right now, sitting on the couch writing. It’s very humid here, so wherever my skin meets my skin sweat has formed, and I am only truly surviving through the virtue of generous air-conditioning. The air-conditioning in this apartment consists of two air conditioners, one for the bedroom, one for the living room. They are likely the newest things in this apartment, which is old, wood floored, poorly insulated, a bit uneven and bumpy, the bathroom is tilted, and it’s totally amazing. I can recall once not being here, but I cannot recall why I would have made that choice, or if I ever did. I live here has become a familiar refrain, spoken in tones of awe and surprise and occasional dismay. It’s not me who says it, or rather it’s some part of me and some part of a self I may have been once, or simply met and exchanged recipes and video game tips with. I am white, I understand, and essentially all of the faces I have seen as of yet far have been black, but I do not feel white and I do not worry about this sort of thing. I find myself worrying far more that other people will misunderstand my whiteness as an identity and not simply a result of the causality that brought me here. Most often, I don’t worry at all, excepting that I may receive a wicked sunburn and develop skin cancer and die painfully. So far so good. I am informed that there are bugs here, bugs that bite and cause problems, but I have not seen these bugs, and can only assume the most logical answer: they’re invisible bugs.
I live here now, 1800 miles from the place that was. I live here because I chose to and my choice was made. I live here because of a series of unlikely events that ultimately lead me to the choice I made. I live here because I’m in love and because I want to die. I live here because I can’t handle anything and I want to take on the world. I live here because of all the places in the world, only this one has a piece of myself in it. I live here because I have always lived here, and anywhere else is incomprehensible to me.
I moved, which is to say I packed up a certain part of my self (threw most of it away) and transformed it through a trial of noise and sleeplessness and uncomfortable seats and a demonstration of my immense Sudoku skill until the self that came through is virtually unrecognizable to the self that was before. I am still me, ostensibly, but I am not me who was before. I was never the me that was before, and I will never be that me again.
Today is the third day I have been here, but it is not a start or a beginning, only a continuation of the inexorable, the events beyond my control, beyond my comprehension, beyond my reality leading up the very moment between now and the next word I type. This is life, a series of inexplicable events, marching towards the only path they can march towards. Everything is pre-determined, except that the determination occurs every moment. Random is simply another word for incomprehensible. Chaos is another word for unfathomable. Free will is perplexities disguised as control.
My reality has never felt real, except in sensation. Sensation has never felt true, as it is merely an extension of my belief. Ultimately everything is surreal, even the most basic portions of living. I am trapped in a place in my head, but that is the only place that exists, or at least perceptually exists for me. I guess my dense and overly mystical point is that I do not feel that my life is real, and very little changes that. I spend my time thinking, “Ahoy! This is what happens next to me!” rather than “argh, this keeps happening to me.” People often ask (actually, they never ask, but I wish they did) “Jake why are you so chill?” if people asked me that instead of not asking me that, I would respond “because nothing is real. There is no point in wasting time with regret, as everything that is ever done by anyone is the only thing they could have done in any of those situations. There is no reason in anxiety, because events will always play out exactly as they should. There is no purpose in sorrow, for life is what it is and is well beyond our control and understanding. All we do is who we are, and who we are is all we can do. I embrace that and it gives me the strength and ability not to allow myself those negative feelings as I understand their ultimate uselessness as emotions. You may in time learn to embrace this too, and you will find all manner of provocations sliding off of you as water slides off of a majestic statue.” And then I might be hung as a heretic.
My name is Jacob Germain, though I feel that I’ve never been Jacob Germain, though I am informed that I am the only one. I’ve always been me except when I was some other me and not that me. I’ve always lived here except when I didn’t live here and I lived somewhere else.