There is a theory going on Reddit- about déjà-vus. I always thought that it was a moment in life, that you already lived, or was significantly important to what was about to come. Like an epiphany, or an omen. But this particular idea blew me away.

Let’s consent that we, as beings, are not truly alone in the Universe. That there exists an infinity of other us, scattered in an infinity of other Universes. I’m talking trippy, quantum shit. With that in mind, this theory states that those out-of-time moments, where nothing feels quite real, are frictions of sorts, between us, and an other-us. Living the exact same moments at the exact same time. Which is crazy, when you come to think about it. Crazier than the thought of living in a multiverse: if an infinity of other-us came across an infinity of choices, influenced by an infinity of signals interpreted by their trillions of neurons… What are the odds of finding yourself in the exact same situation, simultaneously?

“That’s a hell of a story” said Ahmed.

“Yup. Although that would mean that an other-me is stuck in my shitty situation. And it sucks dicks.”

The bartender came back, on his tray three margaritas and a bowl of olives.

“I take it, they refused you” mumbled Sophia.

“Yup. I am not, and never will be a Jean Jacquemond scholarship grantee. Fuck me.”

The bartender wiped the table and placed the margaritas in front of each one of us, the olives in the middle. Sophia asked for an ashtray.

“You can always try again next year, Jonas.” She said.

“Nope. Deadline is 25. I am turning 26 next month. That was my last fucking shot.”

Ahmed picked up an olive.

“You French people are always so grim. No offense mate, but what is stopping you from… I don’t know, writing the fuck anyway?”

I looked at the street on our right. It was past four and parents were bringing their children back from school, tiny humans with their small backpacks full of crayons and marbles. The sun was far from setting down on the city, and yet was already illuminating the top of the Hausmannian buildings. The Golden Hour, that’s what the instagram kids call it.

“You don’t get it. That was my last chance of making it.”

“The fuck are you talking about, mate?”

“That scholarship was going to pay for me to go to England. To attend courses, to live there and meet agents. To get out of my stupid Paris apartment. I can’t fucking bear it anymore. I’m like a rat in a cage, sharing my sewer-city with millions of other rats just like I. And to afford to live that rat-life, I’ll have to take up a job next month. That’s gonna cost me writing time, I’ll come home tired and morose, and yes, even grimmer than I used to be. Pay the bills, make the parents happy. That’s it. The end of my writing non-career, and the beginning of the nine-to-five until I die.”

A pause.

The bartender brought the ashtray and Sophia lit a cig.

“You’re such a crybaby.”

“Excuse me?”

“Come on man. Look at you! Yes Paris is, let’s face the facts, a decaying city. And yes, you have a shitty apartment, but guess what? It’s still a roof over your head.”

I sighted.

“Some people never had it so good, heh?”

“You’re feeling down right now and honestly we get it. But come on, man.”

She’s right. I knew I was pushing it a little bit. But I could not help but taste bitter.

“What were your pieces about?” Asked Ahmed.

“The non-fiction was about the way alien stories reflect on how a society views outsiders.”

A pause.

Yeah, I ought to explain it further.

“Take E.T. Released in 1982. Post-hippies, Reagan in the office, US getting involved in all sorts of wars. So of course, the outsider is cute and innocent and friendly, and of course the military are the bad guys. Fast forward to, let’s say, Edge Of Tomorrow, 2014. Post-911, Iraqi and Gaza war, the US has its boots all over the world, supported by the media. The whole movie is hyper-militarized, cowards get sent to modern-time pandemonium, and we deal with notions such as time relativity and mind-reading. Of course the aliens are the bad guys. And we, well… We are the heroes, duh.”

A pause.

“And then, my favorite one. Arrival, 2016. Not long after, mind you. But this one is, in my opinion, one of a kind. An alien movie, where the non-violent, language researcher wins. Not against aliens, the “other”, but against putting a fucking nuclear bomb in their nostrils or something. This movie is about communication. It marks another step in our “alien evolution”, if you will. Aliens become: not our friends, not our enemies… But whole beings with their wants, and needs, and fears. That we learn to understand, and thus, to evolve as a species, thanks to them.”

Another pause. A kid runs past our table and makes it shake, like a comet against the atmosphere.

“That’s a fucking winner, if you ask me”, said Ahmed.

“Yeah, well. Here we are.”

Sophia lit another cigarette.

“How is it that every time we’re together, it always comes down to Gods, cults or aliens?”

“Because it’s so fucking cool!” Answered Ahmed.

It is. It is fucking cool.

“And what was your fiction piece, then?” He asked.

“A story about a girl, living in a shitty neighborhood, she comes across a creature that allows her to read other people’s minds.”

“Interesting!” Exclaimed Sophia.

“Once she eventually understands the power of this creature, she puts a bullet in between its eyes.”

“Yeah, that ought to be right.”

I watched the table next to us, seemingly a post-work gathering of some sorts. One guy telling a story, all the others on their phones. Doubt they were listening.

“How can we have gone to shit like that?” I asked.

“What do you mean?”

“We used to be frightened of a higher power. Whether it be aliens, demons, Gods… Even though we can argue about them being the very same entities.”

“People are tired. Get up, drink your coffee, go to work, come back, eat, sleep. Repeat straight to the grave.” said Ahmed.

“We used to be humble, to worship, to believe so hard in a higher power. It gave us catharsis, it gave us meaning.”

Sophia exhaled smoke.

“We used to be a proper civilisation.”

Ahmed laughed. Me too.

“I’m serious, though. Now, it’s like no one is talking about it.”

Everyone is talking about it. We just need people to speak louder.”

We sat there in silence, for a moment. Margaritas half-empty, ashtray half-full.

“We need people like you, Jonas.”

I looked at her, Sophia. With her nonchalant attitude. And Ahmed, the fucking most loving human I had ever met. Those two people were my pillars. The mitochondria to my cells. I’d have given up on life a long fucking time ago, if it wasn’t for them.

“So what do we do now?” I asked.

Ahmed took another sip of the margarita.

“Well, you’re still living, you piece of shit, and you still have ten damn fingers. I suggest you continue writing. And to hell the nine to five. Be broke, be unemployed for a short period of time. You are too talented to give up. You just can’t. The scholarship didn’t work out. Fuck them fucktards. We’ll do without. We’ll meet here every week, like we’ve always done, and we’ll talk about Gods & cults & aliens, and we’ll smoke and we’ll drink the years away if we have to. It’s like you said: catharsis, meaning, a higher power. It all comes down to one thing: sacrifice. So yeah, it better be painful. And “the artist way” better be long and dreadful, for we are here to stay. Everyone else can eat shit.”

The sun was inundating the place, a small square inside Paris where has been a café, for centuries, called Ultima Thule. The last place on the fucking Earth we could still call home. That was it, that was all there was. I surprised myself praying, with every last cell of my being, that all the other-me could experience this situation at least once in their lifetime. Because it makes everything else fucking worth it.

Perhaps that is one of the answers of the Universe: Aliens & Friends & Margaritas

Some people, indeed, never had it so good.