After visiting your brother in Ann Arbor, Michigan, you realize you are so happy to be where you are where Stuff Happens. I mean like, important Stuff. Stuff that requires technically incorrect capitalization. A magical swirling Place where there is never a dance without a camera or a party without a quote.
You step off the plane and (after a slight hiccup in the flow of the Green Line during which you narrowly avoid [so the conductor says] a head-on collision with another train) you are ushered into a room of Favorite People who are gathered to say goodbye to Jess, who is moving to New York. Of course there are cameras and there are quotes.
The photos are voyeuristic and celebratory, candid upskirt shots of human connections. Once they are on the Internet, they will exist forever, stamping our youth and beauty in eternity.
You missed the big Dance this weekend, but don't worry, there are photobooth pictures of the hipsters out strutting in full peacock regalia. It's like you were there but didn't have to squeeze into the leggings or apply the eyeliner or do the drugs. In the pictures your friends are so beautiful.
Soon another going away. Sharyn reads at the Cantab for the last time and you are there watching her while your roommate makes out with his girlfriend and Ryk and Simone lurk and all of this in pixels to code this moment into the database of Time.
At some point you realize that Here, they all live for the quotes and the cameras. That in the absence of religion in the cradle of media culture and celebrity, all these colorful people have turned to photos and quips as a means of Carrying On, of Existing, of Mattering.
When you realize you don't recognize the people on the covers of magazines in the grocery aisle, but know the sexual and chemical proclivities of some heart-eyed DJ you've danced beside, but never spoken to, you realize you almost believe it.