Sidereal

(August 18, 2006; the result of a moment's passionate thought. I'm just glad to have written something after a long dry spell.)
Comment on this story | View comments

I don't remember the first time I noticed that my bathroom mirror held more than one reflection. I don't remember because it just keeps happening: five first times at first, then six, seven, ten. Maybe there will be more; I'm not sure yet, but it's a reasonable assumption. The one that springs to mind most vividly is the memory inside my own head, of course, but it's actually a more recent rendition - you could almost feel the boredom rippling up the chain behind it when it happened. There are only so many remixes a person can hear before the song starts to sound ragged, I suppose; it's the potential for innovation that keeps us listening.

Sorry. I have a tendency to toss out my thoughts in crisscrossing trails when I'm rambling through them like this, and I forget that they're not so easily followed by newcomers' feet. Let's restart with an introduction: I'm Iendo. Yes, my parents consider themselves progressive, and no, it doesn't mean much. I grew up clothed in spartan black dresses and decorated with little red berets perched in my hair at rakish angles, and I lived with an oddly detached feeling of amused disgust. Mind you, it was only once I escaped the unnecessary cartoon of my childhood that the really weird stuff became so clear.

If you passed me on the street on a typical day, we'd end up grinning at each other. I'd reappear in your memory later, changed by time-delay but still distinct, and you wouldn't know why, since it's not as if I look like anything special. (It definitely has nothing to do with the aforementioned clothing, since I don't need to dress up in order to feel peculiar anymore.) I can tell you the reason - it's because I'm a mystery released in multiple volumes, and you want to solve it without knowing that you do, just because of who you are. You can see it in my eyes, I'm told, and nine out of ten home mirrors agree.

Have you ever heard of the word sidereal? It's pronounced sid-ear-ee-ahl, but when I was growing up, I read it phonetically - side real. It was always a comfort to me, better than any stuffed animal. I didn't understand why, but even after I was corrected, I held it in my mind just the way I'd first found it, relishing the idea. My internal version of the word had nothing to do with stars, or at least not in any concrete way; it was a description of concurrency, harmonious twinned coexistence, living constellations, the many of the one spanning across multiple reference points.

I'm Iendo, but I'm also a number of other people who are and are not me. I don't remember most of their names - we were introduced years ago, mostly - so I've given them pseudonyms that suit what I know of their selves. The one who reflects as wolf-blue eyes, that's Cryptic - and as a side note, I'm relatively sure he's where most of the cynicism I felt during my upbringing came from. Mother is a lot warmer, a sort of glazed honey-brown; I don't feel her very often, but she's living a life that's either full of love or painfully lacking in it, judging from the empathy that comes out of her. I have a suspicion that Frat is a raging slut, which makes me think of Dali, but at least she's artistic about her appetites.

Some of them are distinct, while some I'm aware of only because they showed up later in the game and weren't quite familiar enough to blend in. I think that one of the older ones is dead now, but it's hard to tell, since he or she was always quiet. They're not presences in my mind or offshoots of some demented personal creation, so don't bother suggesting a Jungian exorcism. It's surprisingly difficult to psychoanalyze a person's soul, after all, even if you believe it exists.

The situation is a lot like living in a condo that's made entirely of mirrored glass. Most of the time, you can only see the reflection of your own space, but when the light shifts in just the right way, there it is: a glimpse of someone else's. Maybe it's visible for an hour or two, or maybe it blinks out as soon as you realize its presence, but you remember it either way, and over time you begin to get a feeling for the shape of the building around you. The condo is not the entirety of the world, but it is a complete subset of its own, segmented and interconnected. I'm just one side of this reality, and I'm not alone even when I am.

These glimpses are rare, but they provide some insight into the people who are, in a distant way, me. What I'd once thought was a neuropathic condition down my sides is actually a tingle that comes whenever Mother feels safe; she lives for warmth. A barbed remark that doesn't seem like something I'd think up on my own is frequently a sign that Cryptic - or Acerbic, his nastier thought-cousin - is thinking about something particularly deserving of derision. I'm pretty sure that the near-identical jolts I get from Frat and Dali come from strong orgasms and completed sculptures which lead to strong orgasms, respectively. These people aren't as two-dimensional as I make them seem; only the things that hit them hardest seem to reach me, though, so it's hard to flesh them out more. We're just caricatures until we return to Ourself and trade life stories, I suppose. Sometimes I wonder how I feel to them, but I don't think I'm meant to know that. Maybe you can tell me.

In the grand scheme of things, we are a single unit, my soul-siblings and I. We are spread across the world, animating existences that have never come into physical contact with each other, and we spend most of our lives feeling like discrete bits of matter. But there are those moments - always starting with the bathroom mirror, as far as I can tell - that bring us into contact, reminding us of the perspectives beyond our own. When I feel terribly alone and I don't know why, I worry about them; my heart sometimes fills with a rush of joy that corresponds to nothing, and I hope (or feel envious) that one of their lives is going better than mine. I'm relatively certain that Dali and I live on opposite ends of the Earth, because I seem to catch little vignettes of her life in my dreams, detached but gloriously vibrant.

If you can believe in past lives, then why is it any more difficult to put faith in simultaneous ones? Our eternal shapes are limited by neither time nor space, so why would the greater We cripple itself with linearity? Furthermore, what did you think your soulmate would be, anyway? I am one of a handful of different personal viewpoints, participating in the same global events while experiencing innumerable unique nuances. Whatever the scope of your research, more sources is never a bad thing; they can only improve the end result.

So here we are, you staring at me like I'm speaking in tongues and me - well, I'm just trying to be as clear as I can, when all I have to work with is a distracted instant and a few of your errant thoughts. That's fine; you'll see for yourself soon enough, once the strangely external experiences occurring internally start erasing your doubts, and once your existence starts seeming a bit less isolated. Blink a couple of times and you'll be alone again, probably forgetting much of this conversation. But maybe now that you know, you'll catch my eyes in your reflection more often.