The phrase suggests a process contemplated beforehand, taken up and twisted in the hands and made to look finally like some sort of animal. A giraffe, say, without the ungainly spots. It follows the speaker around like his shadow so that people he has never met before comment on it in uncomfortably loud voices and the echoes return from up the street where they have been lingering with others of their kind on the front stoop of an antiques store that will be going out of business within the month. Our personalities congeal around a central axis – a core belief or something traumatic witnessed in youth – and add layers at regular intervals until you can’t see anymore what the edifice stands on, how it keeps from disintegrating in the breeze. This causes those without personalities to chuckle under their breath but they forget almost immediately what they thought what so amusing and revert back to an innocence frequently written about by classical Chinese authors but rarely documented. Before I turned the corner, I didn’t believe anyone could live like that, with their eyeglasses, cracked and filmy, perpetually in their hands, and their minds always turned forward, scanning the horizon in hopes of discovering there some type of illumination you’d otherwise have to pay top dollar to acquire. In books with Latin titles. In seminars where the director is promising to swim to the bottom of the sea on a single breath or climb a ladder using only his left hand (and, of course, both feet). Eulalie makes a great show of her patience, of choosing to behave in ways that would ruin a lesser being, would put them in the hospital because they don’t know where else to go. They can’t imagine a home with actual paintings on the wall, with a furnace that gives off sufficient heat. When I’ve had enough, when the very sight of her reminds me of black and white newsreel footage of American soldiers using flamethrowers on unnamed Pacific islands, I head out into the night with its low and unfamiliar bird calls and its single filament spider webs flung across the road at eye level and I walk until the road turns into another road and the only way you can tell this has happened is by listening to the sound the gravel makes beneath your shoes, taking careful note of the shift in timbre, the telltale rise or drop in tone that announces to anyone in the vicinity who is prepared to listen -- who knows what exactly to listen for -- that you are walking now due south.