Quantum states, which represent the state of affairs of a quantum system, change by a different set of rules than classical states.
The topology of this room is trivial – it is where I spend much of my time, a studio apartment in a building of studio apartments. I am distinct, solitary, but I am not quite alone. In this space I am unobserved, free to be or not be. Who thinks of me when they cannot see me? Am I alive to other people when I am on my own?
The spin of a record somewhere in the building vibrates objects here in mine, and I hear a buzz as the cutlery in my one drawer is disturbed, subtly. A piece of mail atop the fridge moves just enough to be audible, if not visible. I perceive this even if I cannot observe it. What is observation? Is it objective? Do I observe what I feel?
The city twirls outside; flashes of light from the street below bounce off my walls, casting moving shadows that seem to contain something unknowable, moving in flicks and flounces, like a cat. Before, I might have mentioned this, spoken aloud, forming my mouth into words someone else might perceive. Words perhaps she’d have perceived. Maybe she’d have smiled, and I’d have observed something like affection. Maybe. I can only perceive her now in a different type of light.
She lives in superposition, everywhere at once. In these shadows, in the lyrics of a song spinning away somewhere else, in the flashes of images behind my eyes as I move through these endless days of study and reflex. Who am I if she does not observe me? Who am I when only I observe me?
And so I move from space to space, from chair to bed to bus to lab, from classrooms to bathrooms to kitchens and liminal spaces, crossing neighbourhoods and laneways in an endless to and fro. In moments, I can feel the observation of others, sometimes fleeting but sometimes heavy, like a lonely man’s gaze on the subway; who am I in these moments? What does he see? It’s a lot to think about.
I observe my topology: stacks of books supporting stacks of mugs, a bag of tea leaves and vegetable scraps in the sink meant for the green bin days ago, a single chair askew at a table with three other chairs that have never moved. If I squint, I can see her backpack on the open chair, her phone alight with notifications on the table. Who else is thinking of her? The uncertainty is unsettling.
She is infinite now, entropy, chaos, a feeling not attuned to a wavelength I am conscious of but that I feel in the vibration of my cells. In this room I am the same, undetectable, spinning, locked in place. To be or not to be is not a binary, it’s life and death and the unknowable middle, and I am in that middle, all the time, all of the time.
Her energy is a wave, magnetic, unyielding but moving away and I feel it in my lungs and I can’t breathe. I am spinning, held in place, holding my breath. I look out the window down at the quiet street below, and no one looks back. I am in the wave, but I don’t know where it begins, or if it ends.
Another car passes, the light twirls across this space again. For a moment, the light drags itself across my eyes, shining across my face. I am visible, if anyone is looking. I am observable, you might perceive me, I am here. I wish we could be here again.