Isolation, Chapter 5
Chapter 1: Here
Chapter 2: Here
Chapter 3: Here
Chapter 4: Here
Josh sipped his tea, not quite cool enough to warrant a bigger drink. “Well, you’ve traveled all this way, the least I could do is tell you a story.” The humor in his voice masked a real sense of obligation Josh had been feeling since the phone call hours earlier. A sense of relief grew from deep within Josh’s stomach as the story began to unfold.
“I grew up in Carlsbad, by the beach, actually,” Josh said. “If you’ve never seen the sun as it sets into the Pacific Ocean, I don’t think you’ve truly lived. I mean, the colors….it’s as if your soul screams silently, and the words and sounds and passions fly from your eyes and are splashed on the largest canvas ever imagined. Sometimes I would sit on the top of my roof at home and watch until the very last hue of color dissolved and black overtook the memory of what I had just seen. And after I came down from the roof, I’d turn my thoughts and feelings into words.”
The reporter could almost see the sunset in Josh’s eyes as he spoke and for a moment, the room seemed to brighten ever so slightly. He thought about asking Josh a question, but decided against it—better to let him continue.
“I can’t tell you how many sunsets I watched from that rooftop. At first, my parents forbad me from the roof, threatening me with all sorts of punishments if I disobeyed, but I found ways around it, and after a few months of rooftop ventures without serious injury or death, they decided I was okay to be left alone with my setting suns.”
Josh continued. “And like marijuana, the sun was like a gateway drug; it made me crave other examples of nature’s miracles. I began looking at flowers, and palm trees, and even bumblebees. I think I actually spent more time just looking at the landscaping in my neighborhood than I did watching TV.”
Again, the reporter suppressed the urge to ask follow up questions. This would be a different kind of interview.
“Now, spending all day looking at nature isn’t the most unusual thing you’ve ever heard of, is it?” The reporter nodded in agreement. “Things went relatively well until I graduated from high school. That’s when the trouble began. You see, I’m a middle child, I have one of each, siblings-wise. My older sister is a successful lawyer working in the film business and my younger brother is a computer programming genius—both very successful. But,” Josh said, he paused, looked up at the reporter and said. “do you know what I wanted to do? Can you guess what the one thing I wanted to do was?”
The reporter was caught off guard by the question. “Uh, I take it not to go to USC and study philosophy?” The reporter researched his subject and knew of his short stint in college.
Josh chuckled. “Nope, he said. “What I really wanted to do was get married.”
The reporter didn’t expect that.
“Married—did you say, married?” he asked.
“Yup!” Josh said confidently. “I wanted to get married, you know, settle down and share everything I loved with someone else. You know the concept of synergy, I trust?” Another nod came from the reporter. “There’s lots of reasons to get married, but I wanted to have that sense of synergy with another person, and by using that synergistic power…well…the thought of what we could feel and experience together still sends a shiver up my spine.”
An awkward pause followed Josh’s confession. The reporter thought Josh might have more to say, but as the time ticked on, it was evident he was waiting for the reporter to speak.
“So, did you get married? Did you have a girlfriend in high school, you know, someone you could marry?”
Josh shook his head. “There’s lots of reasons to get married, but there’s also a lot of reasons not to get married. Not being in love is perhaps the biggest reason not to get married.” The response elicited a slight laugh from the reporter.
“And I wasn’t in love. Not with another person, that is.” Josh stood to stretch his legs and walked to the corner of the small room where a well-organized pile of firewood in the form of a pyramid sat in the corner. Josh picked up the top log and placed it on the dying flames, the coolness of the object momentarily reduced the heat from the fire, but soon, the new fuel emitted warmth for all in the room. Josh sat and continued. “I made the mistake of telling a friend that I really didn’t care about starting college in the fall, or going to a USC vs. Notre Dame football game as a student. When I told him I just wanted to get married and look at sunsets, the look he gave me was telling.”