Oliver Kwapis: Clock, Lightning Bolt, Volume, I Love You So Much
The last thing I do every night is check my phone. First, I check the clock icon in the upper-right-hand corner of the phone’s home screen: my alarm is set. Next, I look for the lightning bolt over the battery icon: my phone is charging. I press the volume button. A white bar appears on the screen: maximum volume. Last, I look at the photo on my home-screen, a picture of my partner.
I stare at each image intently — the clock, the lightning bolt, the volume bar, then my partner — and recite the corresponding words: clock, lightning bolt, volume, I love you so much. I repeat this litany many times with many variations. Clock, lightning bolt, volume, volume, I love you so much, so much, so much. I continue until I feel that I’ve performed the ritual correctly, then fall asleep.
I am glad to report that this routine is just a vestige of an obsessive-compulsive disorder that cropped up in my teens. I’ve gotten a handle on my compulsions and even though they lurk just off-stage, I’ve begun to appreciate their absurdity.
Clock, Lightning Bolt, Volume, I Love You So Much is a performance of my nighttime ritual. The piece is an abstract representation of my dual experience of how these rituals can hold me in their grip. It’s ironic to experience something while standing outside of that experience — of being in something, but not of it. It is painful, strange, quirky, and even funny, to say the least.