We chase what we can’t have and what we can’t have is indifferent to our asking, demanding, and pleading. It laughs at us and we want more.

I shifted into a dangerous gear and felt more alive in that moment than a thousand epiphanies. I knew what I wanted, regardless of death, and going for it was freeing.

Joy was taking corners on the tall highway like her life didn’t matter and I started to think about my books and coffee and music; maybe giving them up for a woman was madness. And she was gone. A little thinking, some deceleration, and I was back to normal.

Driving with the wind in your hair and the sun on your neck and the power under your feet can’t be replaced by anything. There was the gate to the beach and the bathtub Porsche parked near the dunes. I turned down the lane like all my high-floating thoughts answered to her, instead of me.

And she was walking slowly on the shore, like she expected me to catch up. The wind was blowing her scarf like a flag that didn’t belong to any country and I was going to conquer it.

She knew I was there and she kept walking and when I was about to speak, she turned around, weakening my legs with her brown eyes.

“Are you stalking me?” She teased.

Her clothes were blowing in the wind and mine too, like nature recognized the moment and a big wave came crashing in.

“Look out,” I laughed and we got soaked to our knees.

“Are you finishing out the semester?” I asked.

“Yes; I switched to art classes mostly. I’m trying to paint with my imagination, but it’s difficult. I have no interest in a practical profession, so I’m draining my family’s wealth to find myself.”

“And you didn’t find it in my class?”

“No offense, but Western philosophy was dreamed up by white men who found creative ways to disempower women.”

I could’ve argued with her, but there was no point. My illusions were finding a place in her face; my thoughts were finding a way inside her head. None of it was real, and it would take so much more to break my obsession.

“Did you read Schopenhauer’s essay On Women and get offended?” I asked.

“No; but anyone who writes an essay about a whole gender is ignorant,” Joy said.

“Schopenhauer is one of the foremost minds that ushered in the 20th century.”

“So was Nietzsche, and look where he got us.”

“His ideas were perverted and misunderstood,” I said.

“That can be said about anything.”

It was an argument I couldn’t win; there was no reasoning with her, so I obeyed the compulsion to stop talking and gave her the last word.

I was a rational man, swayed by my feelings. How dangerous they were. Feelings could carry my sturdy mind to destruction, like a violent storm that didn’t empathize or care. The world was waiting out there, telling me of everything I would miss if I didn’t join. It wanted me to be like them; a pawn in a game I couldn’t win. But I wouldn’t tip my crown. It was my own to wear in a mirror of self-respect and pride. Most never find that in themselves. They’re taught not to look. Oh, how wonderful that reflection is; it gives one something to live for.

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