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Someone out back had burned a tray of croissants the one gal was saying to the other gal and the buttered smoke was suffocating so we thought twice about staying but then they were scrambling around and eventually chair-propping open the door that had a sign explicitly instructing people not to do that very thing and so we figured that we were in good hands in terms of ventilation and problem solving in the face of petty authority. I sat down at the tiny little table with the tiny little sprig of something jutting out of the tiny little vase that places like this always have and almost immediately knocked it all over onto the people next to me seated there talking about murder podcasts I can only presume. Whatever it is people talk about now. M. went to wait in line to order and I pulled out my phone to help the short few minutes in limbo pass without having to confront a single moment of raw reflection. My bank had texted me again to say my account had been compromised but it was spam again I am fairly sure. I hope that doesn’t ever actually happen because how would I ever believe them at this point? Next I saw a video of a storm in some wind wet city in which a car was pulling up to an intersection and it braked when a tiny little twister passed perpendicularly in front of it as politely as you please the dangling traffic light barely swaying in its wake and as soon as it had made its way the car accelerated and drove on like nothing about it was weird like it was just some kids crossing to go to school. I wondered how long it will be before they have wind funnels on the driving map like they do speed traps and construction and such and I thought if that happened where I was from people would be beeping and cursing at it to get the fuck out of the road. Jumping out of the car to fist fight a tornado. Then on my phone I saw some people arguing about student loan debt forgiveness and how it would only benefit the purple-haired baristas the most powerful political bloc in the country and I looked up and watched M. asking a few questions of the worker at the counter and had like a Leo pointing at the TV screen moment in my head. Some people were just talking about you I thought to say and didn’t. I had this whole fantasy within ten seconds where I went up and wrote in a $20,000 tip on the bill and how ecstatic the barista would be to get it and there’s me smiling and telling everyone instantly what I did and feeling like the world’s singular philanthropist then like ten minutes later going I’m ruined I’m fucking ruined. Why did I do that? Going back to bargain with them to please accept $100 instead. I’m just some guy I’m sorry I made a mistake etc. I’m just some guy whose brain is too dry. Here was my coffee and unburnt croissant now. M. was looking out the window behind me so I turned around and there was a striking white brick building that could have been 50 or 300 years old for all I knew with a giant mural-like splash of ivy stitched horizontally across it that looked like a Phoenix exploding onto the horizon and M. said look at that it’s like a painting and I did look and it was like a painting. I told her I agreed that it was like that. Next door to it was an old red brick school house type building with its own greenery growing upward in this instance instead of sideways looking more like swaying vegetation at the bottom of the ocean reaching up to entangle lost sailors. I glanced up to the roof to check for sirens. I wanted to take a picture of both buildings to show everyone so badly for some reason. I don’t know why this type of contrast of nature and habitat appeals to our collective estimation of architectural beauty although it basically explains the entire aesthetic of fancy colleges I suppose. You would think it would be the opposite of beautiful considering how we really do not want vegetation and its attendant wildlife to encroach into our homes but I guess we want to toe the line where inside meets out in terms of beauty’s threshold. You certainly wouldn’t want ivy or any other kind of plant grasping inside of your house you’d pay a lot of money to prevent that. Some moth larvae had infested our closets recently and it drove M. mad in the process as she selected each garment one by one and inspected it with her Terminator scan until it was determined everything made of cloth in the entire upstairs needed to be sterilized. What is it about unborn insect babies that repulses us more than the mature version like if you saw a couple spiders in your bedroom you'd go ah there's a couple spiders but if it were spider eggs that's something much much worse. Maybe it's to do with the fear of the unknown or the hypothetical always being more alarming than the established present. I wasn’t quite as bothered by the whole moth thing in this case however I figured at worst I’d take a pair of pants out of the drawer one day down the line and some moths would have eaten the dick out of the crotch in big cartoon holes and I’d be like haha. Respecting their work as adversaries. I couldn’t stay to help for too long with the delousing because I had planned this big but entirely unremarkable thing with my parents and sisters where we would have Sunday dinner. Just to have a dinner with my parents and sisters alone the five of us and nothing else no tricks or occasions or anything just to sit in the house we used to all have dinner together in and do that. I could not and cannot remember the last time that happened and as it turns out no one else could either although we certainly tried. I had sort of become enamored with this idea that there was one day we all got together at the table and ate like a family and it was the last time that it happened and none of us knew it was happening and barely registered it as anything at all. Endings are easier to suffer through when you aren't aware they're transpiring. I know it probably seems like nothing to have dinner with your family but it is not nothing in our case. I can't think of the last time I ate a meal prepared for me by my mother outside of a holiday type of situation which is different for reasons I can't quite articulate. I worried on the way down that I might be forcing something here with this little stunt of nostalgic domesticity but it ended up being exactly what I wanted it to be. It’s not like I don’t want their children or our spouses around by the way but it’s a different thing if you understand me when your overlapping familial identities are fractured. One can't fully be a sister when one is also being a mother and so on if that makes sense. My mother took out old photobooks and made us take home ones that each of us were featured in most prominently like she was dealing cards and we laughed and said remember this and remember that and said oh my god look how fat/not fat I was in this one and asked who is this person and who is that person and sometimes they had died in the meantime and sometimes we couldn't even remember their names or much about them at all which is a kind of dying. Then we had prime rib and it was quite rare and my mother was worried it might be too rare and I told her it was not and meant it. Then Tom Brady was losing and me and my dad had that to talk about. Then we all had Brady and Gisele perhaps divorcing to talk about while the last in a long line of a family golden retrievers begged at my heel although begging doesn’t describe it more like pushing its snout into my plate like a commuter shoving onto a packed subway car. I fed it a few scraps of fat off the beast on my plate and then thought to ask after if it was ok to feed it and when they said yes but just a little I gave it a few more scraps and the dog nuzzled my knee and it was the perfect trade me having nothing to offer this dog but gristle and the dog having nothing to offer me but affection and so we were square in that transaction. Our beloved cousin’s husband was in remission so we were happy about that although our beloved uncle was declining into the bad phase of his Parkinson’s and I mourn for him because it is how his father died and that wasn’t pretty. I thought of a photo I saw in the earlier memory shuffling aspect of all of this where the old man was standing so straight and stoic next to a horse that I am sort of just learning that they all had at one point. A bunch of the photos from my mother’s youth we looked through were blackened and fire damaged and my dad joked about that because he wasn’t the man who set that fire and the whole equation about tragedy and time changing perspective made it ok. Now I was in the cafe again watching a video of a bull jogging along the side of the highway in what looked like Wyoming or something like that some place that is none of my business and it had uprooted this entire wooden circular fence enclosure some poor bastard must have worked pretty hard on to keep it inside of. Maybe not hard enough actually. Spitting in that guy’s face with every step and barely even having its stride hamstrung by the weight of the resistance and just ahead of it up the way another wholly unencumbered cow is looking back like come on buddy keep up. Judging his associate like. No idea how impressive a feat it was to be able to carry on like that. Or maybe expressing concern I don't know how to interpret cow body language. Now I was back at my parents house. I proposed this dinner of just the five of us a few months ago and everyone instantly thought I was doing it as like a pretense to come tell them I was dying or was going to kill myself which ok fair that’s not out of the realm of possibility for what a person who knows me would think I might do but it’s certainly out of the realm of possibility of things I would actually do. I still told my mom when I walked in I had cancer which wasn’t funny but she laughed after a few seconds then punched me in the stomach playfully. I would honestly declare it instantly if I were dying. To my family and to all of you I would go I have cancer lol. Or whatever it is I'm going to end up having. That is as far as I’ve planned out ahead as everything after that comes after seems like it sucks too bad to imagine. I’ll do it now anyway: I am dying. Not in any particularly pressing manner to be clear. Not that I know of. I’m just dying in the same way you are. When I left we all posed for a picture and looked at it and said oh my god I look so fat/old etc and we all said this shouldn’t be the last time we ever have dinner together like this but it probably will be. At least now we'll know the exact date.