I’ve been reveling in things I’m not supposed to. Twirling Q-tips deep into my ear canals. Eating food that sits out overnight. Digging little ruptures in my skin. Staying awake all night for nothing.
Yesterday, I fell in love with the way the couch sagged to adapt to my mass. Normally I would hate the shooting pains through my lumbar spine. I would stretch my back and walk to the cafe and say hello to a stranger. “Hooey,” I would exclaim to the friends I visited, but lately I’ve been trying to reframe things.
Did you know that it is much easier to say you love a thing you hate until you believe it? Like when you’re angry and you force laughter so long it puts you in a good mood again. Like osmosis. Like manifesting. There are so many words for the same thing in the English language, I wonder why we confuse ourselves with complexities.
I take a plate out of the cupboard. I bought these plates when I went to home goods stores just to browse. When I went to the Matador for tapas when tapas was on trend. It was decadent.
I’m twirling the spaghetti on my fork. Plain spaghetti. I am not complex. I’m all for simplicity, and pasta is all that’s left from the last trip my Honda Accord made to Costco. I’m letting go of desires to reach nirvana. Nirvana is a blank space, and that sounds good to me. Just bland enough to not be desirable. Saltine existence, nice and absent. The prongs of the fork scratch the porcelain, squealing in glee. I try to internalize that glee. Maybe I used to squeal like that in the sheets, but no one wants to hear that. So for now, I stay quiet, gulping my skim milk and glee and spaghetti stuck to the walls of my throat.
A truck beeps outside as it pulls the wrong way down the back alley of my apartment building. The alley is narrow and the driver is driving too fast. A man from a nearby building and his leashed corgi I used to make eye contact with is outside. He dodges the truck, just by a little. There’s nothing abnormal about this. The trucks come and go and I stay in this apartment. I think of the beeping as chimes. Wind chimes on a porch clanging in the summer breeze. I have no porch, so this is a comforting idea.
Everything can be music I think, and I imagine a cut scene of the pots and pans in the kitchen clattering down from their collapsing shelves. They all crash harmoniously and the scene breaks out into a musical number. I’m smacking frying pans and pirouetting. I am a trained dancer, did you know? The pots and pans are wide-eyed because everything anthropomorphic has comically large eyes. I read once we feel more affectionate toward large eyes. They remind us of our young.
The music is brass: trombones and trumpets and trombones. Tubas and other instruments I can’t recall the names of. They’re off-screen spurting the noise I’m dancing to. Out the music sputters as my oven concludes its baking. The atomic pressure of the heat completes its cake and I find that to be beautiful. The timer rattles over the stove and the dream is over.
I am careful to enjoy only to the limit of desire. Last time I lusted it was to be free of social obligations, but then I stopped going outside. I decompose. I stop myself at the barrier of desire. I don’t want to get attached to anything that could disappear. Everything can disappear. Time can disappear. Like grains of sand to the ocean. My pores leak ethylene gas and I grow soft as I rot.
I think about the time my family went apple picking in the Asheville autumn. How my brother and sister and I picked and picked until the end when our parents shook their heads and said too many apples. It has always been too many apples. We ate them for months from plywood and wire crates stacked in the garage, and when I sunk my incisors into the yellow freckled grain, a mealworm danced along my tongue. I think about the mealworm being wide-eyed in attempts to make light out of this. It does not help.
I learned in horticulture class that putting fruit in a fridge with cut flowers wilts the whole bunch. Just being around decay causes their beauty to fade. Even one apple can be too many apples. I feel like I’m vibrating when I consider the implications.
So many difficult things are really quite easy, I’ve realized, when you let go of caring about their existence. The sulfurous smell of the garbage disposal. The aphids chewing and sucking at the plants. The plants and their dependencies. This is the way most people live, I realized. Not caring about the cyclical lives of organisms dwelling all around us. There’s a fun sort of fuck it, burn the place down nature to it all. I don’t know if I identify with an attitude as passionate as burn the place down. It seems strong. I don’t want to be strong. My bones crumble and my joints shrivel down into applesauce at last. I exist here in the blank space.
Elizabeth is a queer/non-binary writer and editor based in Denver, Colorado. Their work has been published in Emerge Literary Journal and they are a first reader for Ploughshares. Their debut chapbook, For Love, and for Cruelty was published in January 2020 by WordTech Editions.