We didn’t start with Nothing. Nothing was six months ahead when we started. We weren’t even thinking about Nothing. We started in the neighboring dimension to where nothing would be, a window universe. We started, to be truthful, when we were born. In another way, we started a year and a half ago when we were thinking just ‘what would be so cool.’
After we had discovered ‘what would be so cool,’ the first gear spun. The bones were added to the cauldron: “Preproduction.” This stage lasted a while, but was generally considered to be far too short. This is where we would talk and draw on napkins and stand up from tables at night to illustrate with our arms. This is probably when it felt most complete, even though we weren’t quite sure what was going to happen.
This is the stage that anyone can live in. It’s window shopping, it’s daydreaming, it’s just messing around. It’s a safe place to be and tossing ideas around is just improvisational acting for some. It’s something we loved to do recreationally all the time. We had made a game out of this stage, that’s how great it is. We could play revolutionary all day.
This stage was the honeymoon. We had many more with us in this stage than we do now. At the end it was more of a “We few, we happy few” than “We the people,” but that’s how it goes. There’s no more bitterness there than there is when the sun sets. It was just easier to include everyone who wanted to have a say, the more the merrier.
Then we realized that we had to get to work on Nothing. Just to get existence out of the way so we could really start laying down some work. It was like jumping off a cliff and not knowing whether we had landed or not, but Nothing was there, and we could walk around at least.
There was a lull during this period. Sometimes we got witted down to just me, and that was truly frightening. All of the joy from before had to put on its tie and go to its job to pay the rent. Every once and a while there would be a moment of excitement, of discovering something new in what was Nothing. For the most part, it was the slow ponderous start.
That stage didn’t last too long, and soon we were back in our swing. We started laying down bricks, making flowers, writing scripts. The scripts were really the hardest part, but also what gave the whole thing life. We started at a crawling pace, stepping into the pool one toe at a time, and we left everything to crunch days right before deadline. Thank God we had deadlines.
This is the period during which we would dream about our project at night, after lying awake in bed thinking about it for hours. The biggest question on our mind was ‘How are we going to seriously pull this off?” Sometimes what we needed to pull off was making the sunlight look exactly right, sometimes it was making sure that running caused the world to move under the player’s feet just right, and that the world never stopped turning. Most of the time, though, it was just a general anxiety.
Then it got progressively more real. Each day the big deadline came closer. It loomed over the entire space silently, we never had to mention it. It would suggest things like taking out all the scaffolding, making a door that other people could use, and general polishing and spit shining all around. This was particularly daunting as most of us would be standing on said scaffolding while these ideas occurred to us. Vertigo is the closest description of what this feels like.
At the same time, we were doing what we loved every hour of every day. We would be in our space, our once Nothing space, talking and arranging and directing actors and teaching flies how to fly. Every day we had a new challenge of making this space and time experience feel exactly right to whoever found their way in. It’s an undescribable feeling, seeing it all come together. It’s kind of like watching a forest coming out of winter and crawling to life.
This love hate pull went on forever and then came to an abrupt halt. The moments before the deadline… I can scarcely remember them. We were firing white hot on all cylinders. Shaving corners off rectangles, trimming the grass, packaging and wrapping, putting away all of our tools. The deadline became a concrete entity about a week before it arrived, and it pushed us all into and through the crunch.
The crunch! We live and die for the crunch. The twilight rush, the cram, overtime, whatever you call it, it is incredibly painful. It’s somewhere between giving birth and speed solving a Rubiks cube at the World Rubiks Cube Solving Competition finals. It was all in anticipation of that final moment, lifting my hands from the very last object we had to put in, and boarding up the door that only we could use so that we could open the gates that everyone else would use. It’s hard to even look back on doing that.
Technically, our work was done, but that thought had never nor will never cross our minds. We are never done with anything. That is the heaviest price to pay, to only have the ability to get things to be good enough rather than complete. Technically speaking, though, we rest in the fact that it is complete.
The first night’s sleep after the last day is the best sleep we ever had. The sleep was our celebration, and it was the best party we had ever been to. It’s like that every time. It was empty, dreamless sleep that lasted well into the afternoon, for me at least. It felt relieving to have emptiness again, just for a moment.
I won’t talk about what happened to our Something after we were done. It’s out there, somewhere and God bless those who find our work and savor it. Aside from that, it is just a memory for us.
The period of that peaceful sleep only lasts so long, though. Sooner or later, we’re going to progress our science. New methods and lenses and procedures will have been invented for examining ‘what is so cool. We will likely reinvent the definition at least twice. ‘ ‘What is so cool’ may not even be recognizable from last year’s model.
And then, at some point during another new game of invention, we will all hear a single cog latch on to its brother, and we will all know what must be done.