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All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Philosopher's Stone

The mythologized Philosopher's Stone would be able turn base metals such as lead and iron into the noble metals, silver and gold. Alchemists around the world spent hundreds of years looking for it and while they did, they wrote and wrote and wrote. Procedures, observations, and hopes, all detailed with footnotes and appendices. Illuminations, plates.

I have been given both vague and specific advice about how long I should mourn the transformation of my most recent passionate affair into the quiet, kindness between neighbors it has become. It's one of those losses I'm expected to swallow more easily, since I have not simply lost a lover, but also gained a friend. And it's true, there's a bit of sugar with the medicine. A bit. Didn't I have a friend before, too, though?

This isn't another breakup song.

We are, every one of us, awash in a sea of expectations. Mine are mostly my own. I'm difficult, even still, I'm harder on myself than I ever am on anyone else.

There are days when I can clearly see a path, but the place it's heading changes all the time. Artist. Clerk. Manager. Executive. Cigarette girl. Writer. Teacher. Turns out it's just a road away from right here. What's so awful about right here that I can only ever dream about the next place?

Alchemy paved the way for chemistry. In their misled desires, those proto-scientists documented a few methods of trial and record that are still used today. I wonder what they would think-- if we could dig one up and ask him, how would he feel knowing that for all we can do: space travel, heart transplants, towering skyscrapers, and combat drones, we still can't turn lead into gold?

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