The Disappearing Day: A User’s Guide

I know days like this.

I live in days like this one, loosely strung together like glimmering beads. Lost days. Days that don’t mean anything to anyone, and consequently are completely my own. Days where I don’t pick up the phone. I don’t know that all people, or even many people, offer themselves the luxury of a day like this unless something very bad has happened to them, in which case it’s not a pleasure, but a necessity.

What those inexperienced with a disappearing day won’t realize at first – and may have to learn the hard way – is that a day like this must be filled with something. The easiest thing is television and junk food, or to stay in bed all day reading. If you were having a good dream when you woke up, you can close your eyes and return to it. You can play with it, try to shape and change it. You can do this until it’s dark outside your windows, and you will have made the day disappear.

The key is to forget that you have a past or a future. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to do, but it’s not easy. Wandering aimlessly or going to an art gallery may seem like good disappearing day activities, but they actually represent incredibly advanced levels of disappearing difficulty. There is too much room in an art gallery for the contents of last night, for every mistake you’ve ever made and never been able to forget, or for the knowledge that Monday exists. There’s also the chance that you might run into an acquaintance at the art gallery, in which case you’d be forced to undertake the painful effort of becoming invisible. Acquaintances are anathema to disappearing days.

If you’ve ignored my advice and have skipped straight ahead to something complex, like going to a cafe that plays soft music, rather than starting with the much simpler task of staying at home and seeing how much popcorn you can fit into your mouth at once, if your disappearing day threatens to be derailed by memory or thought, it can be useful to focus on a thought adjacent to the one that has actually surfaced, or a memory that isn’t properly your own.

Last night, I saw an ex-girlfriend of a friend. She had become the antagonist of many stories, so it was startling when she was warm and sweet, when she remembered my name and offered me a cigarette. It’s funny that people keep existing after your memories of them have ossified.

Disappearing days can be shared with another person, but only if you carefully, silently, but completely mutually agree to disappear. You can order pizza together, and you can laugh at the same parts of a movie, but nothing more weighty than this. Certainly there is no falling in love to be done on a disappearing day – nothing that would contribute to the continuity of events. You can lie in bed next to someone for hours, but if you look into their eyes for too long even once, you have created an entirely different kind of day.

I once had a friend who couldn’t believe that I spent entire days without leaving the house. I couldn’t believe that she didn’t. There are a lot of days in a life, and while the approach of many people is to fill each one with as much activity as possible, I would argue that each day becomes a chapter that you carry with you; I would much rather be left standing with a set of treasured volumes than with an encyclopedia dragging behind me. So I disappear today. I’m sorry I didn’t answer your call.

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