Quarterlife: the Futurist Issue
Letter from the Editors
Future dreamers and future-dwellers,
We send this humble magazine into the world in hopes that it will reach you, tens, hundreds, thousands of years from now. It is a monument to who we are and who we will be; it is a monument to the places we’ve been and the places we’re going; it is a monument to the things we’ve created and that we are yet to create; it is a monument to how much we love our dogs, our TV shows, our romantic partners and lack thereof. We hope that you will love these things too, when you see them printed in these temporary pages.
Hold onto us as long as you can. Look back into this portal through time and think about how silly we must seem with all the knowledge you have now, or how silly you seem to have destroyed all of this, or both. We can only guess about our future. You, however, know our future, our present, and our past.
We hope that you will use what we’ve given you to make things better, dear futurist.
–Best wishes, Megan & Joshua
Tell me I contribute to the darkness:
As my city incessantly expands
I study the sky, and learn to be restless.
I close my eyes and all the world is formless.
On new silver legs, I can hardly stand.
Hold me up, tell me I contribute to the darkness.
I spend hours lying out on my terrace,
I waste time writing metaphors by hand,
seasons pass as I study the sky; I’m restless.
My love is loud, raucous,
and mostly unplanned.
It notices: I contribute to the darkness.
I believe (with uncharacteristic boldness)
that someday—tomorrow?—I will understand
why I can’t stop studying the sky, why I’m so damn restless.
My lungs are airless,
and I settle miles from land.
Up there, I contribute to the darkness
so I stay in the sky, enduringly restless.
here i am / / was
so little, i know
too much, to see what could be.
is a girl
into the sky
dogs riding bikes
nowhere to go, but
Are we there yet?
i am, therefore i
dump my blues down the gulf
jazzed' - surprisingly only one syllable
I'm not so jazzed for
an ambiguous later
without my control
the Blood on Our Hands
Excerpt from 'on Comfort and Temorality'
I stand in a sea of flannel—couples in their thirties, wrapped up against the New England cold, sipping local hazy IPAs, are paired off and standing back to chest with each other, slowly swaying in time with the music. It’s a hipster haven in here, and I was not told the dress code—I’m standing with my friend, wearing a spaghetti strap tank top, glitter slicked on my eyes and a hard-won gin & tonic sweating down my hand.
Every time I jump along to a song, I get strange stares from the couples around me for interrupting their swaying rhythm, and the venue feels like a liminal space: the air crawls over my skin and raises my hair, the music rings through my ears and I can taste it on my tongue. I woke up with laryngitis a couple days before, so my voice is lost in the din of my surroundings.
Maybe the reason this moment is so impactful to me is that I cannot voice what I’m thinking, can’t let my words float off into the air and disappear from my head—I am trapped in my own mind, forced to sit with what is poking at me.
What’s poking at me is what my friend calls The Little Life, that moment when you realize that your home is perfectly cozy, you drink tea every night before bed and fall asleep well before midnight. The Little Life usually comes in your early thirties, once you have a stable job and a dog you picked up from the pound that you dote on more than you should.
Those who live The Little Life only drink a glass of rosé occasionally, probably while they’re sitting curled up on the squishiest couch ever and watching the crackling fire in their hearth light up the room. They might reminisce on the days when they used to drink shitty liquor out of stolen plastic cups and dance under blacklights, but they don’t miss it. I am standing in a sea of people that are living The Little Life.
The people around me shimmer, cast in a striking yellow by the stage lights, and I am jealous of them. I am halfway stuck in the stream of a sole blue light that makes my skin look ghostly and reflective—I am not quite there, not able to scream and make myself known.
The couple next to me laughs together, her ear tilted up to his mouth, engaging in their own secret moment. One couple gets brought on stage to sing along to their wedding song, and people in the crowd cheer them on with vigor: the woman’s voice isn’t very good, but she’s so happy that it is the best rendition of the song I’ve ever heard. I can see my life stretching out in front of me, the possibility that in ten years I could be one of these flannelled tricenarians, having made room in my life for someone else to live it with me.
I want this Little Life that they have so badly I can feel it in my jaw and the furrow of my eyebrows, so instead I ignore the people around me in favor of watching the band play their mandolin-heavy songs.
I wonder if they all managed to make their own Little Lives, if they have kids at home.
"on the final night of Hannukah
When I was five years old
Daddy bought me a bicycle
painted red and gold
I rode it down the block
wind flying through my hair
and ever since that day I rode it everywhere
I rode to school and work and home
rain or shine or snow
there wasn't a single place on Earth that my bike and I wouldn't go
I rode it fast and did cool tricks
to prove my masculinity
and I rode it to my girlfriend's house
when she took my virginity
I rode it to the bank when I ran out of cash
and after the robbery was over I rode it away real fast
I rode it down to court when the bankers tried to sue me
and I rode it back home too when they let me out of juvi
now I'm fifty eight and Earth has gone to shit
we fucked it all up pretty good and now it's time to split
we banned carbon emissions awhile ago
when things began to unravel
so now rollerskating and bicycles are the only way to travel
I'd like to spend my retirement
somewhere smog doesn't block the stars
it's time for me to up and leave
I'm biking to Mars!"
he knows what he saw
Flying saucer taking off
Burning nimbus trails aglow
Gravity it simply scoffs
Leaving grounded things below
Flying saucer moving fast
Silver surface radar-smooth
Pierces clouds and then, at last
Unknown speed, cross space, it moves
Flying saucer went away
Where? I am not understanding
But I will wait here all my days
And watch for flying saucer landing
Hairstyles for futurstic Women
My fingers are braided
My hair is shorn clean
I don't think they know
I'm not from their dreams
A shiver runs down
My metal-linked spine
I don't think they like
What they think is mine
My breathing is labored
It's not there at all
I know they won't realize
Till they take the fall
My steps run short
I've run out of stairs
I lift up my neck
And notice thin air
My face has a look
I think it's a frown
I'm what they designed
But I'm not from this town
They've found how to make
Me do what they cannot
I'm closed in their grasp
But not what they thought
Starchild and Dog
Deep, deep in dewdrop woods where the gentle doe tiptoes under the sweetest starlight, there is a ladder, a ladder to the sky. The rungs stretch high, high above your head as you look into the incoming dawn of pearly clouds and pastel, paint-water skies that bend down to kiss the earth with rose-bud tenderness. Now, imagine with me. If you were to climb that ladder, step after step, rung after rung, exhale after inhale, you would eventually reach a place called Future.
You would tiptoe through the town, reverent of the silence. There are no people in Future. Not yet. There is only Starchild and Dog. Keep walking. You’re barefoot. You reach the home of Starchild and Dog and you stop. You don’t knock yet. You are afraid. Before climbing the ladder, life taught you to be afraid. But Starchild and Dog know that.
They will let you gather your courage and when they answer the door, they will be gentle. They are so very, very gentle. They will serve you cookies with marshmallow stars. They pour you a glass of Milky Way. And they wait. They wait to hear all about you. And then they will walk with you, Starchild leading you gently by the hand and Dog trotting near your ankles. They will show you around Future and you will be in awe.
Future, you see, is a land of the most delicious, sugar-spun wonders, like secrets tucked into pockets and forgotten until a rich, rainy day of spring clearing. Starchild and Dog will whisper something to you. Their words will bounce around your chest for the rest of your days.
Then, they will lead you back to the ladder and you will climb down. Back to the dewdrop woods with the gentle doe. Now it is dusk and lavender clouds blow by like a wish. You look back, but the ladder has disappeared. You will never see it again.
Everyone who visits Future comes back just a little different. Most people spend the rest of their life stumbling around the woods, or sitting silently at a dinner table in a restaurant, just before the rush hour. They listen to the clock ticking on the wall and when the time comes, they pack up their things and leave without a fuss.
Quietly, out the back door. But I think you are different. I think you will stare at the sky and think of Future. And you will build your own ladder. Step by step, rung by rung, exhale and inhale. You will remember what Starchild and Dog told you, the words that entered your ears and, like honey, trickled to your heart and sweetened it. You are Future.
Mapping the Future
Calling all Single Futurists
I am a feat of modern medicine, little do you know
Crossing paths each day with a futurist’s dream girl
You just go
I on the other hand, was paused, redesigned, remodeled
The hands of a man, whose touch I will never remember, makes me go
Blueprints of my immune system play in his dreams every night, each kink and crunch highlighted red
I am a futurist’s dream girl
I am a work of art, in the sense that
I stand, my body indistinguishable from my sister’s, my best friend’s, my x-ray technician’s
Except for now, she gets to stand behind the camera, and I kneel in front
A flash of light and my cover is blown
Metal arches through my legs, I cannot keep up with my sister on walks
Once you start getting surgery somewhere, it is hard to stop
Your bones become addicted to the metal clangs, your veins to the burning of anesthesia
My body is a toy, begging to be reopened, dusted off, used
Nothing more than a problem ready to be solved
Maybe this addiction is how hominids evade extinction
We are the last leg of our phylum, less adaptable than a brick wall
So instead, we morph our world to fit us
Put drugs in sick bodies
Metal in broken ones
Air in those that cannot breathe
We wear jackets when it gets cold, lest we evolve to grow our own thick furry coats
Here, in paleontology, I realize I would be the dodo bird, the blue whale, the gray elephant
Survival of the fittest does not suit girls like me
Here, in my classroom, I kiss the ground
The truest god I could ask for is a gastroenterologist
Here, I thank the futurists for their love of technological feats
One day maybe, when I am more metal than human, a futurist will paint me
One day maybe, when I move my limbs at right angles only, they will propose
One day maybe, I will outrun medicine, leave the doctors in the dust, and go my merry way into oblivion
Here, in my broken body, tears well, and tears fall