These neurons that tease, untangle as I come to consciousness say it’s still early enough. It’s early enough that there are no demands placed upon me except coffee. I’m on the way to coffee--not the coffee I want but the coffee that’s convenient, the one that’s open. Starbucks. Still early enough. Few demands. Still early enough that I could breathe and notice my breathing, but already on my way to interrupting the subtleties.
I went through the parking lot. I went through more than a lot on my way to coffee and back. I thought and observed the thought. I walked while sneezing from the golden pollen thick and soft, a low pile carpet under at least three trees. I rubbed the dog with the shaved tail. Bingo is his name(really). I disturbed the mass of wet leaves under the single Sycamore tree with my boot, felt the little ring of fat that protects me moving with particularity as I do past it, beyond it. My fat mimics me, follows me a round like a doughnut, round like a ball. Not me. ME. Not me. Hey, I’m not fat. Am I? That’s me coming to life but not awake. I’m going to defend myself, but I’m not going to be defensive. Yeah.
That was a thought and then there were things: A red dazzle through a thickness of embossed cloud. Some light thrusting through available spaces in sharply delineated shards as I crossed the street. Chunky plugs of asphalt rocked loose in the dirt. I can see the broken black pavement spread all the way to Florida and I’m thinking; I get scared when I can’t remember everything. And yes, that flick in the sky reminded me of Red dye #2. That was the first consumer safety maneuver I was really aware of. It affected me directly. No more red M&M’S. No red fingers, red-handed candy–eaters.
Day kicked on like an alarm.
I get scared when I’m the wind, with my thoughts caught undirected. Scared of forgetting and of remembering. Scared of getting along, being polite and agreeable when I don’t give a damn about polite and agreeable, scared of aging, making a living, my parents getting old, my dog being dead. I miss my dog. I’m scared of where he went and where I’m going. I’m scared it’s not the same place. I’m scared of this feeling of being between two places. “Between” feels like nowhere in particular. I’m a whiff of unidentifiable recognition. Every movement is part of this leap into the void, the wild fall, sometimes plummet, through the question-mark darkness. Sometimes I don’t want to move at all, just freeze. Freeze mid-air in the tunnel of I don’t know. Freeze like I froze before the sub-pediatric joke-dose meds that made all the difference for me. I couldn’t just white-knuckle it anymore, wiseguys. But they took that off the market. Probably poison.
But there’s this: The dose for today. Look up. The sun is shining. There’s coffee.
What I need in lieu of real change is a prescribed anti-oppressant. It’s the oppression that throttles. Bureaucracy undoes me. Unfairness undoes me. An office undoes me. That’s just the tip of the iceberg growing downward under the lurid fluorescent lights, working for the houndstooth money of corporate sludge. When will someone discover the hazardous effects of those and take them off the market?
I pass the fig tree. It grows out of the cement. Still bears fruit. This is at least my second cousin, I think. Then I’m on to the daydream breakfast; Apple Jacks suck. Captain Crunch eats the roof of my mouth. I want Crispy Critters, Rice Krinkles but they don’t make them anymore. They’re ghosts, delegates at the Red M&M Graveyard, The Annual Incorporated Best Former Products Show. Hullaballoo. Some day I'll dance there.
I’m moving past the bike now, the one that’s spray-painted with a blue and silver camouflage pattern and hung with bags, bags overflowing with pens and pencils and tissue and more bags, a bike with good spokes, wheels, tires that’s been leaning against the bushes as a dusky glow, an uncertainty at the center of the parking lot for weeks now, unlocked and untouched. This bike has got to be home to someone. A someone freshly moved into a prison cell or a hospital ward or onto the next bardo.
When we first moved into our house, I replaced the fluorescent light bulbs. Efficiency is all they’ve got going for them. I took out fourteen from ceiling fixtures alone and the difference it made in my mood, to waste, to steal electricity like I’m doing--it giddied me ludicrous. I don’t have to feel like our home is the school cafeteria, an office or prison. Not me. That’s where I draw the line in my footprint.
I watch my breath curl away toward Cleveland. The coffee tastes like cheap cigarettes. I say yes to more than I can comfortably handle, try not to deny, hope for the happiness of everyone, forget. I ask the following questions: Why? Who am I? and Are thoughts and creativity diseases of the mind?
I embrace my cranium yum yum yam, “The one and only cereal that comes in the shapes of animals”. I know what I mean. Remember. Shadda Doo Wa and Shadda Doo Way. Resolve to compromise, be the bravest coward I know.
Starbucks. Not because it’s good. Because it’s open.