Part 1 – Untitled
On my way to the airport my mother mentions that a Nigerian man will be coming to live with her. His brother, who is named after a day in the week, is constantly texting her.
“No one has ever said such nice things to me” she says, showing me one of his text messages.
The Nigerian is coming to go to college. “It feels nice to be able to change someone’s life” she says. I wonder why it can’t be her life, or my life, or my autistic brother’s life. She’s given up on us, I suppose.
It is a beautiful July Sunday in Southwest Michigan. The sun beats brilliant down upon the I-94 where the animals know to stay the fuck away.
We arrive at Gerald R. Ford Memorial Airport. An interstate hub. I’m going to visit my Grandmother.
I’m flying with with an airline named Allegiant which I am certain is being run by a couple of computers in a call center basement somewhere in India.
As I arrive to my gate I survey the other passengers. I think of the movie Final Destination but decide to fly anyway. I imagine us all getting sucked out of the pressurized cabin into the air. I think they are all looking around thinking the same thing.
Maybe I’m projecting.
They have the passengers split up into sections. I’m in group three, there is no group one or two, some of group four has window seats but they’re seated last.
I am sat next to an attractive young woman. Potentially younger than 18, although, in my 20s, it is hard now for me to call. She has deep dark red hair and is dressed in a black, laced dress. There’s a seat open still and I say “maybe we’ll get an extra seat, that would be nice.”
She says “yeah.”
A young family of four are to sit near us, a mother and three girls. One of the girls fills the window seat. She looks just like my ex-girlfriend’s younger sister, but thinner. Has the same name: Julie. She wears glasses. She, too, is probably under 18, though I still cannot tell.
Their skin is like porcelain. To my right is the smell of fruit, to my left is the smell of lavendar. I sneak glances at them on occasion, but I never say a word. I imagine fucking them both, and how disappointed we would all be about it; myself, each of them, those I love, damn near everybody. I decide it’s best to not say a word for almost the whole trip.
“The landing is the worst part” I finally say, as we begin to descend.
Part 2 – Let me explain
Florida is much more humid than Michigan. This is the first thing I think as I step off the plane. I arrive in Tampa. My grandmother is waiting in a newly leased Nissan.
Let me explain:
1. I am here to visit and vacation with my grandmother
2. I am here to detoxify my system from a decade of high amounts of consistent marijuana use
3. I am here to remember my grandmother as she is healthy and as I am healthy
I find her amongst the other cars waiting in the impossible arrivals ramp.
Part 3 – We drive deeper into Florida
We drive deeper into Florida.
Part 4 – Skeletons in Sports Cars
I saw skeletons in sports cars draped in newly borrowed skin. I saw cities filled to the brim with the old, adopting a special type of entitled hedonism, vomiting endlessly upon marshlands floating haphazardly close to the water-table. I saw failed entrepeneurial attempts blotching the places in between new and old cities. I saw no land, only property.
I saw the young licking the boots of death, flirting with the reaper. I saw jubilence, denial, childish glee, and an endless sea of chain stores, mini-malls, and pharmacies. I heard the familiar groan of the earth buckling under the weight of overgrown humanity louder than ever. The crux of the weight is here. The epicenter of destruction.
The roads were all smooth blacktop with keenly placed reflectors and brightly colored lane markings. I drove my grandmother’s car with a push button starter, no keys. The car merely sensed that the key fob was near, unlocked, and let us in. I had never owned more than several jalopies. The car was so accomdating, all the cars were like this, and on lease, they would run for hours in the hot Florida sun with the A/C on full blast. They ran so seemlessly one could fall asleep and still arive home safely. They gave rise to delusions of grandeur by the very nature of their cleanly designed interior lines, their smooth ride, their immaculate luxury.
This is the land that was promised to my grandmother’s entire generation. “You work hard” said Raegan “and just before you die I promise you a car that will comfortably steer you to heaven’s gates. I’ll give you a land with every familiar scent from every familiar chain store. I promise you marketing so clever and subtle you may mistake it for your best friend and sit in front of your television all day watching nothing but commercials. I will condition your air. I will put the world at the tip of your phone and you can spend the remainder of your pocket book without a breath in your lungs. I will give you pretty and young faces to fuck, even, if that’s your thing. You give me your youth” he continued “and I will give you the youth of your grandchildren.”
Of course, he didn’t actually say any of that. But he might as well have when they started building Florida out of the alligator infested swampland which nature intended.
I saw many things in Florida. All in the first day, even. I was to be there for 4.
Part 5 – About this bar my grandma takes me to
The bar’s name is a pun. It’s my grandmother’s hangout. There is music on the patio. It is a mixture of sweat, alcohol, and regurgitated youth. I try and sit as far in the back as possible and look unassuming, nonjudgemental, as I witness the local band enact every artist’s nightmare played out note for note.
I am such a sweet, nice grandson. I am at least 50 pounds overweight and the waitresses my age don’t even look at me.
My grandmother’s friends tell me how wonderful she is, I am, the bar is, the bands are, this area is, life is, in general. They live in a fever dream. A hallucination so strongly supported by their minds that if you tried to wake them they would get mad enough to kill.
They sit and smile at the bands and it is best not to tell them to do otherwise.
Part 6 – On: Seaworld
On our way out to the beach where human property ends and the Golf of Mexico begins we discuss how the people in Florida actually care deeply about the wildlife here. I learned long ago not to argue things with my grandmother.
Her version of saving wildlife is a worker on an oil rig cleaning off an oil soaked seagull, naming it, holding it closely and weeping profusely, then letting it go back in to the wild (to die shortly after?). Then go back to work. Maybe the owners of the oil rig donate to the save-the-seagull foundation. Maybe they have calendars with seagulls on them. Maybe that’s how they fundraise their seagull saving efforts: by selling seagull themed calendars. Anyway that’s my grandmother’s version of charity.
She tells me zoos are great because bottling up the animals and selling them in digestible forms helps the general public understand them more, care about them more, and potentially help the few they may come in contact with. She tells me this all while steering a plastic boat across a smooth gravel and blacktop sea.
Part 7 – A young couple on the beach kissing and holding hands
We arrive at the beach and it’s like a prepackaged meditation CD. There are birds, obnoxious children in the distance, the ocean is luke-warm and salty. I lay on my back and spread out my body like I am a plant and require sunlight for photosynthesis. I close my eyes and the inside of my skull echoes a reddish-orange hue.
I sit and think about how great it is to not be thinking about all of the things that I don’t want to think about. I am a 230 pound pile of white lumpy birdshit. I wish the water could have washed me clean. I wish the sun could have melted me away.
I tried one, then the other, then in reverse.
Part 8 – It was probably just my taste buds
On the way back inland I marvel at the idea that someone could not make a decent meal out of freshly caught fish straight from the ocean. Furthermore, price it as if they had shipped it across the country beforehand. In another life I slam the check on the table, walk back to the fucking kitchen, and tell the cooks that I have had better prepared seafood 3 states from the coast in the middle of the winter. That’s a better life, I think.
Part 9 – Exploration
I replace the THC slowly draining from my system with doses of alcohol. I have choked the very last bit of insight from my surroundings.
I am dehydrated, squeezing a wet rag above me with my mouth agape, waiting for something to sustain me.
I am left only with the very last great adventure: the exploration of myself.
Part 10 – Burn Brush
My soul is a mountain. Atop the mountain is a great lightning storm. The bolts reach the ground, light fire, burn brush, then wait for new life to take hold. I am a traveler on this mountain adorned in only a loin cloth. My legs are worn my feet are bloody my eyes are grey. The mountain goes beyond where the clouds begin.
Part 11 – Untitled
I stand now with the wind threatening to whip me down the side of myself.
My face nearly touches the great storm.
I am too scared to scream.
Part 12 – On my way home
I can step forward and disintegrate. That would be noble and great.
I can turn tail and walk back down. That would be shallow and meaningless.