I wanted something I couldn’t find in the world, and perhaps that’s because I haven’t looked very far, but a man can spend his whole life looking, and the thought of doing that wasn’t so much depressing, as knowing how much wandering I would need to do, and the randomness, or luck, or divine will weren’t helping a lot of people, and I asked myself what made me special, and I couldn’t answer that, so I was lost in oblivion, not committed to hopelessness, and not committed to faith, just falling, and waiting for a thermal to carry me, or waiting for the ground, or pretty much just waiting. A lot of young people are caught up with life. I realize there’s a whole generation beneath me now, not that there wasn’t one there before, but that a decade and a half has passed since high school, and the routines are like the hands of a clock, going round and round, in the same way, day after day, not really getting anywhere. Mounting an assault or fighting against anything becomes predictable, and I have watched my parents taking in the news, at the end of their lives; they manage to survive, and they’re still asking for one more year. This story is about what happened, when I stopped thinking about myself. I decided to visit my grandmother who has outlived us all.
She does it, even with only one dvd to watch, with the ladies who can’t remember anything, and the staff who make minimum wage. If this is the end of the line, I don’t want to be here.
“How are you grandma?”
“I’m fine, Sonny.”
“Are they taking good care of you?”
“No; but I’ve been taking care of myself for 20 years. You have a girl yet?”
“That’s too bad.”
“What’s for lunch today?”
“Mushrooms. I make my own soup with my hot plate.”
“Is that allowed?”
“No; so, don’t tell anybody.”
“Where do you get your mushrooms?”
“You know a lot of mushrooms are dangerous to eat.”
“Yes; but when you get to the end, things grow on you like fungus, and a few mushrooms won’t hurt.”
She was doing better than the last time I visited two years ago. There was a blue sparkle in her eye.
“Why don’t you make us some soup then?”
“Way ahead of you, Sonny. The winter months are getting cold now. Don’t you have a coat?”
“I don’t need one.”
“You aren’t a teenager anymore. Why don’t you try-on your grandfather’s jacket?”
“Grandma, I mean no disrespect, but I don’t want to wear a dead coat.”
“It’s not dead; it’s alive. Just try it on and see.”
It was black, with green checkered flannel lining. When I put it on, I felt dead and alive at the same time. It’s like feeling bored or completely content, without the need to do anything. Maybe it’s how we’ll feel when we get to heaven. There’s nothing to strive for, and we have eternity to look forward to.
Grandma made the soup and I ate the shrooms. I felt ten years younger.
“Thanks for lunch, grandma.”
“Sure, Sonny. Come back anytime.”
I went out back. There was a graveyard there, and the mushrooms were growing on all the dead people. It was like they were living off the lives that had died. I picked some. Even with the dead jacket and the mushrooms, I felt like there had to be something more. Eternity is waiting, and I didn’t want to wait anymore. I wanted to die or I wanted to live, but waiting was for people who thought life was a contest, where the one who lived the longest won. In this case, I wanted to lose. I guess I wasn’t afraid of anything.