She orders a taxi. Before, the mundane act would require her to pick up some kind of a handset, to physically dial a number, to talk to an operator, perhaps even to get a call back before waiting for her pickup to arrive. Now, at an instant, the vehicle is requested, ordered, confirmed and traced as it makes its way, inch-by-inch, toward her position on the map. She orders a luggage service that will seamlessly take the burden off her shifting suitcases around the city before hopping onto her next flight. She orders food delivery, she orders clothes, she orders, she orders, she orders. Every click, a minuscule dot that is added to the matrix that reweaves the city into a grid whose apparent chaos crystallizes into a new kind of order that forms up in dazzling speed. It’s not just her order: this new universe is also soon-to-be complete.
To loiter or to move around aimlessly has always been out-of-place in cities, these human settlements quintessentially built on the very idea of maximised efficiency through discipline and density, through accurately combined numbers. The wandering body leaves no useful trace, it moves toward no achievable goal, it serves no purpose other than to satisfy its owner’s own curiosity, to entertain her own craving for the pleasure of the encounter―or even the lack thereof.
It is New Year’s Day. A few hours in. At its moment of calculatedly joyful eruption, the efficient world tires her. She drives up a steep hill nested in the cramped city’s haven. She anticipates a spectacular view of a kind or another, disappointingly realising the place is little more than a fenced cul-de-sac, or perhaps a parking lot for a bowling place bizarrely positioned on top of the hill. She spots an older man she hadn’t quite noticed the first time round. He might be homeless. They exchange wishes for the infantile year they both now inhabit. A brisk walk around, a quick realisation that seeking any satisfying view is futile, and she walks back toward her car. And then it hits her: all of this time, the old man has been standing next to a limousine perhaps ten, twelve meters long―a vehicle so out-of-place it is not even offensive; it merely makes for a surreal backdrop. She greets the man again, more awkwardly this time, and she is about to puzzledly set off, only to realise she is now standing next to some kind of stacked up sculpture park. There is an alligator here, a giraffe too, and a sculpture of an ancient Greek god holding a smaller statue of another god in their hand. The new year is here: fragmented, dark and confusing.
In some way the encounter leaves her with a soothing aftertaste, a warm feeling not of familiarity but of being able to interact with the unfamiliar without much of a repercussion. In its darkest hour, just before dawn, the city is the most accommodating―a seamless, swift carpet-like backdrop that facilitates her moving around between those dismantling last night’s set and those assigned with putting together what the morning requires to happen. In this in-between, the order of the city goes into its lulling mode―it is still here, of course, but it now exists in a humming hibernation. The new day is here and, in the brief moment of its arrival, it is order itself that is now fragmented, dark, and confused._