I am in an unusual position. Music or history: the choice is up to me.

* * *

I find my new line of work stressful, so I call Tara to complain.

"You think YOU have it bad," she says. "I don't even LIKE my job."

I realize she has a point.

* * *

Pros and Cons of Music: a partial list.

PRO: It makes time pass pleasantly.

PRO: It can make a difficult situation bearable.

CON: It can make a difficult situation bearable.

I sit back and regard the list on the bright white screen.

* * *

Tara takes me out to dinner. "You look tired," she says. I play with my fork. "It's just this job," I say. "I can't stop thinking about it."

"Tell me about it," she sighs.

And then later:

"Do you think you'll ever get married?"

"I don't know," I say. "How could I know? There are millions of women who could make me happy, if only I could find one, and get along. But marriage? I don't know. I'm tired of making choices."

"You look tired," she says.

* * *

3:03 in the morning and I wake up with an idea: history is stepping out of time to understand time; music is stepping in time to lose time. Excited, I get out of bed to write this, but come morning it looks sad and flat as a the clean white page.

* * *

Pros and Cons of History: a partial list.

PRO: It connects us to the past.

PRO: It connects us to the future.

CON: To exist, it must be recorded.

CON: It requires work.

I print out the list, and throw it away.

* * *

Tara and I are in bed. "You have a beautiful body," I tell her. I can feel her smile in the dark. "My body likes your hands," she says, so I let them wander across her skin, like little animals wandering the woods. "I am lost," I say. "Tell me where to go." She takes my hands with hers and pushes them down. "You are on the right track," she says. In my mind's eye I am seeing stars. I am imagining the movement of heavenly bodies, and the history of an orderly, rational universe like the one Newton imagined, or Locke. In my heart I say it again: "I am lost." Tara is moaning. In the dark, it sounds like: me-too, me-too...


"What did you want to be when you were younger?"

"Not this."

"What, then?"

"I don't know. Important, I guess. Like how I feel when I'm having a dream."

* * *

It is late and the white screen is full of black lines. I am trying to express the relative strengths and weakness of history versus music in a narrative to submit to my supervisor. I have come to a conclusion, but am afraid: will he approve? what will become of me if he does not? what will become of history? of music?

Carefully I print and seal the pages in manilla envelope. On the outside, I write URGENT!, and drop it in the mail. Then I light a cigarette, and turn on some Beethoven.

I regard the smoke thoughtfully.

* * *

Several weeks pass. Finally I receive a letter in the mail: my supervisor received the letter. He wants to know: am I willing to take an another assignment? I look up from the letter. Tara needs a vacation, and I promised I would take her away for a while. I remove the check from the envelope. "Dreams or Security?" the letter says.

I sigh, and reach for the phone.

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