The Domino Chain

It might be a kind of addiction. I line ’em up, carefully, in long chains. Straight lines or curves. Sometimes level, but often downhill or even uphill.

The clattering collapse, the final step is almost anti-climatic after the zen hours of preparation.

I always use wood. It has the best feel and perfect acoustics. It’s unlike anything else. It’s nothing like the Cold War and the spread of communism. What a lousy analogy.

No, a domino chain—properly executed—is a thing of beauty. It’s artistry and physics combined. The universe itself is a kind of domino chain, a complex interaction with a certain level of uncertainty and that keeps it fascinating. What seems like should happen is not always what does happen.

Which brings me to the part of my life that is not part of my domino obsession.

I don’t hear imaginary voices in my head but I remember real ones, the sounds of people talking, friends from the past. I hear the voices as clearly and distinctly as the moment the person said those words, even if they were said decades ago. Even if they are now dead.

That’s right. I hear dead people. I have an audiographic memory.

My friend Brad, who is now longer with us, lives in my head. He had this instinct about patterns. During my childhood, he turned me on to domino chains. He said to me: “Lisa, this is the secret of life. We all impact each other and no matter how carefully we plan things, nobody knows the outcome.”

We were in love, I now know, but neither one of us said anything. We were friends first, forever and only. We did stuff together. Saw movies. Read books aloud. Walked around the city and made up stories about passing strangers. We never kissed.

One day, it hit me. I called Brad, arranged to meet him at our usual coffee shop, earlier than normal. I said I had something to tell him, something that was really exciting. I wanted to tell him in person that I loved him.

Brad didn’t know what I was going to say. He couldn’t. But he felt the excitement and he rushed. I pushed the first domino and Brad rushed. He rushed through the intersection and never saw the Buick.

He’s gone but Brad and I still talk inside my head. And I keep setting up dominos, carefully, hoping for a different outcome.