Life and Liquor

String Theory

You’ve seen the strings for as long as you can remember.

The strings connect people. Friends, family, couples, strangers, they’re all intertwined. This isn’t an unfamiliar concept, that raw community of humanity, the six degrees of separation.

The strings move when people move, stretching and bending with changing distance. Some people are tethered by bright, compact strings while others are drawn together by strings that are stretched and faded.

Some strings hum quietly with complacency, the old couple walking hand-in-hand in the park. Other strings violently pulse with passion, the crying girls collapsed in the hospital waiting room.

At their best the strings burst into color as they cross and flow into a net of rhythm and community at concerts and festivals.

At their worst the strings snap, lashing across the hearts of previously connected people.

Nobody talks about the strings, except one late night at a bar when a friend and former employer is talking about her band’s breakup.

“So even though we were never, you know, romantic, it was still this miserable experience. When you’re part of a band for that long, there’s just all these, these chains, we were all so anchored to each other, so breaking up… it was essentially a divorce. But nobody says that, nobody warns you how long it takes to process all those feelings.”

You see the strings at the places you work, stretched across the offices and through the hallways, a dense bundle perfectly braided among those closest to each other, but sometimes knotted and frayed by everyday frustrations.

You see the strings at the places you drink, tugging strangers together. The strings are thin and calm at first, but when fueled with alcohol and lust, when rattled by the increasing volume of the music, they become technicolor and vibrant.

Over time you learn to manipulate the strings. A nod of the head pulls a handsome Latino your way, a twist of the shoulder steers a gawking stranger away from you, a rub of the neck draws in a charming gentleman.

With a flick of the wrist you can tighten the strings. You learn to lasso others together or guide them away from each other. Sometimes to get what you want, sometimes to do what’s right.

Sometimes those are the same thing.

You don’t do it with words, just the strings.

But seeing the strings means seeing everything.

You see the affairs and the lies and the anger. You see the hurt and the indifference and the obsessions.

You know secrets that nobody’s told you, you have gut feelings that are always right, you have dreams that always come true.

The strings tie you up, pull your arms and legs to the ground, wrap around your neck making it difficult to breathe. It’s crippling.

Sometimes you wish you could cut the strings and live unaware and carefree. But despite all the ways they can be manipulated and pulled and stretched, they will never break. The strings are a part of the human experience.

Slowly, you’re learning to see the hypnotic beauty in the strings, learning to enjoy the ride when they pull and jerk you around.

That means accepting the chaos that comes with them.

Even when the tension hurts.


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